Blazing New Paths for Catholic Higher Education in the Spanish-Speaking World
“This new agreement is groundbreaking, launching the first academic collaboration between American and Mexican universities in which the academic focus is on master’s degrees taught entirely in Spanish,” Associate Vice President for International Relations & Engagement Dr. Hans Stockton said.
In the latest success for Greater Things Strategic Vision 2030, the University of St. Thomas-Houston penned a new partnership agreement for international cooperation with the Pontifical University of Mexico (UPM) on Oct. 6, blazing new paths in Catholic higher education.
Formally declared at a signing ceremony in Mexico City, UST President Dr. Richard Ludwick co-signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UPM Rector Rev. Dr. Alberto Anguiano. UPM’s leadership, community leaders and officials from Mexico’s Ministry of Education attended. In addition to the MOU, both institutions signed the Protocol Act, a document announcing the collaboration filed with the Vatican.
During his remarks to the assembly, Dr. Ludwick drew from the Great Commission’s inspiration to go into the world to teach and evangelize. He further noted, “Some might say that language and culture keep us separate. We show that our common Catholic culture brings us together. UST is delighted to be in partnership with UPM to promote common cause.”
Groundbreaking multi-pronged collaboration
“This new agreement is groundbreaking because it launches the first academic collaboration between American and Mexican universities in which the academic focus is on master’s degrees taught entirely in Spanish,” Associate Vice President for International Relations & Engagement Dr. Hans Stockton said.
“Furthermore, the planned projects allow the UPM to offer non-pontifical classes and degree programs for the first time.”
These documents trigger the next phase of a planned multi-pronged collaboration for graduate degrees taught in Spanish and pontifical diploma pathways, shared instruction and curriculum, and various physical and virtual student mobilities through UST’s Semillero Center. The Semillero Center is a graduate studies program in pastoral and biblical studies theology at the UST School of Humanities offered 100% online and in Spanish.
About the First Phase
As part of the first phase, graduates from the Center Semillero programs will be granted special access to an Ecclesiastical Diploma in Pastoral Theology from UPM with a “Nihil Obstat” from the Pontifical Dicastery of Education, thus further enhancing their education, formation and career opportunities serving the Church.
Under the leadership of Fr. Dempsey Rosales Acosta, the Center Semillero offers two master’s degrees in Biblical Studies Theology and Pastoral Studies taught in Spanish. These are the first such programs in the United States and serve Spanish-speaking populations worldwide. The new relationship with UPM attaches a strategic stamp of recognition by Mexico’s only Pontifical University and Mexico’s Ministry of Education.
This collaboration resulted from a year-long conversation between Rev. Dr. Anguiano, Rector of UPM, and Fr. Dempsey. “God has brought us together to assess our circumstances, our mission in Ecclesiastical Education, and our objectives as Catholic universities,” Fr. Rosales Acosta said. “Accordingly, we have been able to embark on new projects and collaborations because of the strong bond between UST and UPM. UST and UPM serve as a providential cultural laboratory for the mission of Catholic education, as stated in Veritatis Gaudium, n. 3.”
Looking to the Future
The next phase of this collaboration involves scholarly and instructional collaboration between the highly specialized faculty of the Center Semillero and UPM with the goal of providing students with a more expansive selection of classes, pedagogies, and degree opportunities. Ultimately, this project seeks to create a two-way flow of students that benefit from both civil and pontifical programs of study.
The Greater Things strategic vision continues to inspire and empower UST’s efforts to encounter and dialogue with academic institutions and learners throughout the world. UST faculty are encouraged to contact Dr. Stockton for more information about how to engage with strategic international partnerships at firstname.lastname@example.org.