In fall 2011, a Transylvania team facilitated by Eduardo Nino-Moreno, former director of diversity and inclusion, traveled to the Republic of Panama to meet with leaders and students from several top-level high schools as well as with leaders of the Smithsonian Institution Tropical Research Institute, which is headquartered in Panama. Team members included William Pollard, English professor and formerly vice-president and dean of the college; Kathleen Jagger, biology professor and formerly interim vice president and dean of the college; and Ingrid Allen, associate director of admissions and international recruitment coordinator.
"Before I came to Transylvania I had traveled to Panama, and while I was there I went to visit some high schools," says Nino-Moreno, who for many years lived and worked in Panama as a United Nations representative. One of the schools Nino-Moreno visited was the Balboa Academy, a SACS-accredited school that has many expatriate children as students. "I met with the principal and some others at the school," he says. "I hadn't started working for Transylvania yet, but I told them that I had visited and that I loved the place."
Nino-Moreno's contacts at the Balboa Academy said they had read about Transylvania University on its website, and based on what Nino-Moreno told them, they would be willing to invite some people to visit. So, after he began working for Transylvania, Nino-Moreno accompanied the Transylvania delegation back to the Central American nation just after Thanksgiving. "The reception was excellent, the interest amazing," Nino-Moreno said.
Along the Panama City pier.
After the trip, Transylvania and the Balboa Academy began discussions on forming a more formal partnership between the two institutions. The Transylvania admissions office has already received applications for admission from Balboa Academy students, and the university's education program is arranging for three Transylvania students to conduct their student teaching at the academy.
The meetings were all part of the university's larger goal of promoting recruitment opportunities as well as research possibilities for Transylvania students and faculty. "If we develop this relationship in Panama, quite frankly the sky's the limit," says Nino-Moreno.
Nino-Moreno is discussing similar missions in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Costa Rica in the near future. "If we can develop a niche with one or two countries, the word will spread," he says.
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