The ties between Mexico and Yale are nearly as old as Yale’s status as an international university. The origins lie in the first Mexicans to come to Yale. Julio Alberto Rice of Parral graduated in 1860 from the Sheffield Scientific School (a school of Yale College) and Ignacio M. Megia of Oaxaca graduated from the same school in 1863. Three years later, Zalarios Rojas de Molina graduated with an M.D. from the Yale School of Medicine, and began his illustrious career in Veracruz. There, he served as a Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences. Not long thereafter he joined the Mexican Army, where he served thirty-five years; he retired with rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and received the decoration of the Star and Cross. His distinguished service led him to become the delegate of Mexican Army Medical Corps to Kansas City in 1898 and to Washington in 1902.
By 1904, only Canada, Japan, and England housed more Yale graduates than Mexico. Stewart Johnson ’02 graduated as a resident of Diaz, Mexico, and served as the general manager of the Mexican International Railroad Company before joining the US Department of State. Ultimately, Johnson became the Deputy Chief of the Latin American Division, and was able to play a strong role in Mexican-American relations, as well as Mexican-Yale relations. In recent years, the return of former President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo to his alma mater as the head of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization has created a strong nucleus around which Yale has built a significant partnership with Mexico.
Yale’s relationship to Mexico is not limited to its remarkable body of Mexican Yale graduates, but also has ramifications in the programs of study at the University. Academically, Yale has made Latin America a priority. Courses in Spanish have been offered at Yale since 1826. Since 1925, students at Yale have been able to major in Spanish and since 1946 they have been able to major in Latin American studies.
Yale has also developed a number of collaborative programs in Latin America, and in Mexico in particular. In 1995, the Yale Law School introduced the Seminario en Latinoamérica de Teoría Constitucional y Política (SELA) program, in which scholars from Yale, Mexico and all across Latin America (including Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico and Mexico’s Supreme Court) present and discuss papers. SELA has since become one of the most prestigious international legal university exchange programs.
Yale is involved in a number of other collaborative programs in Mexico. The Howard R. Lamar Center for the Study of Frontiers and Borders was established in 2000 to further historical and comparative explorations of the frontier experience in North America and throughout the world. The Center sponsors annual conferences and lectures by distinguished scholars from other institutions. The Bonampak Documentation Project, which was undertaken by Professor Mary Miller, completed a 50 percent life-size reconstruction of all three rooms of the ancient Maya murals at Bonampak, Chiapas.
In the last 10 years, Yale has built a strong partnership with Tecnológico de Monterrey (Tec). It began in 2005 with the Tec Summer Program at Yale University, which brought outstanding Mexican college students to study at Yale. This initial collaboration expanded to include Open Yale Courses added to Tec’s Knowledge Hub, joint programming during Yale Week in Mexico, an International Bulldogs in Monterrey internship program, a representative from Tec residing at Yale, educational programs, alumni events, and more. The partnership gave life to the Yale Visiting International Student Program in 2011, which brings a small cohort of top foreign students from partner institutions to Yale College for a one-year honors program. It has also impacted business students at Yale and in Mexico, who can participate in the Global Network for Advanced Management founded by Yale SOM.
Yale University is proud of its many collaborations and projects in Mexico, and especially of the extraordinary work of its graduates and affiliates in the region.