CSU Stanislaus -- September 15, 2003

Azores Meeting Paves Way For CSU Stanislaus Exchange Program

California State University, Stanislaus students and faculty may soon be participating in an exchange program with the University of the Azores in Portugal.

Linda Bunney-Sarhad, Director of the Office of Global Affairs, represented CSU Stanislaus at an August meeting held in Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel Island in the Azores, to discuss plans for research and educational and cultural exchanges that would involve five universities.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agriculture Service provided funds for the meeting involving five American university representatives, five governmental and Congressional staff members, and Azorean government and education leaders. The other American universities include Auburn University, University of Hawaii, Mississippi State University, and Stephen F. Austin University in Texas.

A historic treaty agreement between the United States and Portugal that was renewed in 1995 to allow for use of Lajes airbase on the mid-Atlantic Azorean island of Terceira included a provision to promote economic and social development in the islands. That development is to be accomplished through cooperative research, education, and cultural activities with the Azores.

Because more than 750,000 people of Azorean heritage call the United States home, research collaborations and education programs developed in conjunction with institutions in the Azores are expected to be beneficial to both countries. The three counties surrounding CSU Stanislaus (Merced, Stanislaus, San Joaquin) have an Azorean population of around 32,200.

To help carry out that economic and social development mission, the group of American universities that include CSU Stanislaus have teamed with the University of the Azores to form the Azores Collaborative Research Education Group (ACREG). The coalition is expected to strengthen the cultural ties between Portugal and the Portuguese-American community in the U.S. through the exchange of students and faculty who can carry out educational activities and scientific research.

"The Portuguese community has been very supportive of and interested in our efforts to strengthen ties with the Azores," Bunney-Sarhad said. "The ACREG project will seek both to assist the development of the Azores and to enhance our students' knowledge about this strategic region."

Bunney-Sarhad said CSU Stanislaus faculty will have the opportunity to join research teams from other colleges and universities and to participate in teacher exchanges. She said preliminary indications are that the Foreign Agricultural Service will fund the program so that exchange programs can get started within the next two years.

Contact: Don Hansen (209) 667-3997

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