Leaders from Middle Tennessee State University and the Universidad Andina Del Cusco, a private university in Peru, agreed in principle Sunday (March 22) to forge a partnership between the two institutions.
It will become the 39th international partnership in 18 countries for MTSU and only the second such tie with an institution in South America.
UAC, known best for its programs in tourism, accounting and nursing, is located near the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, described by National Geographic as one of the world's most important archeological sites.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Alejandro Paul Pletickosich Picon, UAC's director of social responsibility and university extension, initiated talks Saturday while touring the Inca Empire ruins at Machu Picchu. Picon and other UAC officials then hosted McPhee on its campus Sunday.
"The Cusco region of Peru provides unique enrichment opportunities for MTSU students," McPhee said. "This relationship will expand our current education options near this important cultural site and at this vibrant destination."
The partnership will allow officials from both universities to explore ways to make it easier for MTSU students to study at UAC, as well as students from Cusco to come to the Murfreesboro campus. It could also produce ways for MTSU and UAC to collaborate on education and experiential programs.
"We already have a partnership with Harvard," Picon said. "We welcome a partnership with your university as well."
UAC has an enrollment of about 15,000 students and features schools in Administrative and Financial Resources; Social Sciences and Education; Law and Political Science; Engineering; and Health Sciences.
MTSU recently designated Cusco as a recommended option for its Global Studies students, through its current relationship with International Studies Abroad (ISA), a U.S.-based consortium. Six students from MTSU so far have spent a semester studying through ISA's Cusco program.
"This Latin American location is a valued resource for Global Studies majors and minors -- not only to achieve their educational goals, but to enhance their global awareness," said Douglas Heffington, director of MTSU's Global Studies and Cultural Geography program.
Mark Byrnes, dean of MTSU's College of Liberal Arts, described Cusco as "a great option for our students, particularly those in Global Studies, Political Science and Spanish."
McPhee, who was in Peru as part of a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation team, extended his stay in South America to tour ISA's Cusco facilities, as well as explore additional education partnerships in the city.
On Thursday, McPhee spoke to ISA students in their classrooms, received a briefing on ISA's curriculum and visited with a family who is hosting ISA students. The president also linked up with ISA students on Saturday in Machu Picchu.
"Location, course options in English and Spanish, the home-stay experience and service-learning opportunities here make ISA's Cusco program an exceptional choice for our students," McPhee said.
David Schmidt, MTSU's vice provost for international affairs, said 162 students from the Murfreesboro campus have participated in ISA programs since the university joined the consortium in 2009.