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University of Central Missouri
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Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
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panama visit

Panamanian Delegation Explores Education Opportunities at UCM

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (June 22, 2010) – Three visitors from Panama recently spent a day at the University of Central Missouri learning more about specific programs as part of a tour that took them to eight Missouri higher education institutions where they hope to establish collaborative relationships.

The Panamanian delegation was led by Sonia de Luzcando, director general of the Institute for the Development and Training of Human Resources, known in Panama as the Instituto para la Formación y Aprovechamiento de  Recursos Humanos (IFARHU).  Other IFARHU representatives who journeyed to UCM were Eusebia Moran, secretary general, and Etilvia Arjona, special assistant to the director general.

Trying out the cockpit of a new Boeing 737NG flight simulator are Panamanian visitors to the University of Central Missouri, Sonia de Luzcando, left, director general of the Institute for the Development and Training of Human Resources, and Eusebia Moran, secretary general IFARHU.

According to Diana Duvall, UCM director of international programs, IFARHU is a government-run organization that among other duties manages domestic and international scholarships and financial aid packages awarded to Panamanian students who are studying at home and abroad.

She said the tour was a continuation of an effort that was announced on the UCM campus in February 2010 by Robert Stein, Missouri commissioner of higher education. He brought higher education leaders and Missouri legislators together to discuss with a United Nations Development Program consultant from Panama different ways Missouri can help that country meet its technical and higher education needs at a time of economic and social growth. A task force of 27 people representing 10 Missouri institutions of higher education traveled to Panama in November 2009 to explore opportunities for education relationships, including student exchanges, new academic programs for students, and faculty research opportunities that benefit Panama and Missouri.

While at UCM June 11, the Panamanian delegation visited with Dirk Nelson, chair of the Department of Kinesiology, to learn more about academic opportunities such as the Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and the B.S. in Athletic Training. He said the exchange of information was mutually beneficial.

“We’re always interested in ways we can showcase our programs to a broader range of students,” Nelson said. “They are looking for professionals who can serve as athletic trainers and help student athletes who have been injured. They also need professionals who can better prepare athletes for competition.”

The delegation was interested in opportunities provided through the UCM Department of Aviation. While on campus, they met with Bill Rankin, department chair, and Rick Martinez, assistant professor of aviation. In addition to touring the Max B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport, they had an opportunity to climb into the cockpit of the new Boeing 737NG flight simulator which simulated a flight over Panama, and take a scenic airplane ride over Warrensburg in the university’s aviation training fleet. Rankin noted that in Panama most of the pilot training is provided by private companies.

“They were specifically interested in professional pilot training and cost,” Rankin said. “Now they have a good idea of what an academic institution can provide versus a private training company.”

Other opportunities at UCM included participation in a noon luncheon that introduced them to university professionals in areas such as special education, criminal justice and teaching English as a second language.

Joy Stevenson, director of the UCM International Center, expressed her appreciation to those who contributed to making the UCM visit meaningful for the Panamanian delegation.

“International visitors such as the Panamanians with IFARHU are always impressed by UCM facilities, the hospitality of our faculty and staff, the enthusiasm of our international alumni and the potential for developing partnerships,” she said.

Prior to visiting campus, members of the IFARHU joined more than 7,000 people who attended the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Conference in Kansas City. From June 4-11, the delegation visited UCM, University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of Missouri-Columbia, Lindenwood University in
St. Louis, Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, and Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau.