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Cablegate: Education Secretary Spellings, Eca Das Farrell And

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSG #1404/01 2392121
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 272121Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2055
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF EDUCATION WASHDC

UNCLAS SANTIAGO 001404

SIPDIS

INFO AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
AMEMBASSY LIMA
AMEMBASSY QUITO

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR ECA DAS THOMAS FARRELL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OEXC PGOV PREL KPAO SCUL SOCI CI
SUBJECT: EDUCATION SECRETARY SPELLINGS, ECA DAS FARRELL AND
UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS ENGAGE WITH RECTORS, STUDENTS, ALUMNI,
BUSINESS LEADERS IN HIGH-PROFILE VISIT TO CHILE

REF: A) SANTIAGO 1396, B) SANTIAGO 1392, C) SANTIAGO 1391, D)
SANTIAGO 1383, E) SANTIAGO 1368

1. SUMMARY: During their August 18-21 program in Chile, Secretary
of Education Spellings and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for
Academic Programs Farrell, with eight U.S. university presidents,
met with Chile's top university administrators, students, business
and industry leaders, and alumni of USG exchange programs. The U.S.
delegation stressed the value of educational exchanges, the
outstanding opportunities for study and research at a wide variety
of U.S. institutions of higher education, and the U.S. desire to
welcome scholars from Chile and other countries. At every stop, the
delegation highlighted the new U.S.-Chile "Equal Opportunities"
Scholarship Program, signed into existence by Secretary Rice and
Chilean Foreign Minister Foxley on August 8. This program will send
up to 100 Chileans to pursue graduate study at U.S. universities,
and will offer intensive pre-academic English language instruction
as preparation. This unique feature will open the doors to Chile's
non-traditional elite to pursue overseas study. This cable presents
brief summaries of the non-governmental events. End Summary.

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CHILE - U.S. PARTNERSHIPS HIGHLIGHTED AT RECTORS SUMMIT
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2. Secretary Spellings was flanked by the rectors (presidents) of
Chile's two leading universities -- the University of Chile (UC) and
the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (PUC) -- when she
addressed an impressive assembly of rectors from throughout the
country. She cited education as the key to a better life, noted
that outstanding scholars can be found everywhere, and pointed to
diversity as a strength of the U.S. higher education system. DAS
Farrell emphasized the readiness of U.S. institutions of higher
education (IHEs) to work in collaboration with Chilean counterparts
through the new Equal Opportunities Scholarship Program (EOSP), as
well as through exchanges of teachers, English language fellows,
scientists and others.

3. Two U.S. university leaders also addressed the group. President
John Hennessy of Stanford observed that nearly half of the graduate
students in scientific and technological fields at his institution
are from foreign countries, and cited the importance of U.S.
students going abroad as part of their higher education. He noted
that there are programs of excellence at IHEs throughout the U.S.
Dr. Hennessy pointed to energy and environmental studies as areas of
particular interest to both the U.S. and Chile in meeting global
challenges. Chancellor Sean O'Keefe of Louisiana State University
(LSU) characterized the university summit and other aspects of the
visit as a "remarkable opportunity to overcome insularity." He
called attention to the U.S. higher education system's ability to
meet individual needs -- "There is no one size fits all university."
University research spurs innovation and helps address real-life
problems, said Chancellor O'Keefe, recalling that as Administrator
of NASA, he relied heavily on cooperation with universities.

4. UC Rector Victor Perez and PUC Rector Pedro Pablo Rosso, who
co-chaired the meeting, offered explanations of Chile's complex,
rapidly-expanding university system. They underlined the value of
exchanges with U.S. IHEs, and commended the EOSP as a significant
step toward educational equity in Chile. Most of the 16 other
rectors present spoke of their universities' experiences with
academic exchanges, linkages with U.S. institutions, and the
challenges in today's open-market university environment where most
students are the first in their families to attain postsecondary
education. All expressed appreciation for the U.S. delegation's
visit. One rector saw the visit as marking a new, welcome openness
on the part of the USG, following a period when "it seemed the U.S.
was closing its borders." Several rectors called for further
accords on exchanges of undergraduate students, scientists,
teachers, and other groups. The forum of rectors represented a
diverse group of public/private, new/traditional, and urban/rural
institutions with widely different political and social orientations
-- in itself noteworthy.

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MEETING WITH BUSINESS LEADERS CENTERS ON ACADEMIC-PRIVATE SECTOR
COOPERATION
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5. Secretary Spellings and DAS Farrell addressed a luncheon
gathering of the influential National Manufacturers Association
(SOFOFA), an association of 2500 companies who collectively account


for nearly 80 percent of Chile's industrial output and 30 percent of
GNP. SOFOFA president Bruno Philippi, a Stanford alumnus who has
urged the private sector to become more engaged in education issues,
opened the program by commending the innovation and quality of U.S.
universities, which have contributed notably to economic and
personal development in Chile. Chancellor Mark Wrighton of
Washington University in St. Louis noted that the U.S. private
sector depends on universities to prepare the next generation of
human talent. Wrighton cited a research/development linkage between
his university and the Monsanto Corporation, which has resulted in
many biotech innovations. President Gregory Geoffroy of Iowa State
University pointed to breakthroughs in research on human-computer
interactions, virtual reality, renewable biofuels and other fields
made possible largely by corporate support.

6. The Secretary cited the diversity of U.S. higher education --
major research universities, vocational and technical training
centers, community colleges and other institutions -- which prepare
skilled workers and creative problem-solvers. She noted that the
business community has contributed many ideas on how the U.S.
education system can be reformed to meet current challenges and
needs. A question and answer session followed, with Secretary
Spellings responding to queries on government financing of applied
research; approaches to training teachers; and whether it is more
effective for the private sector to invest in education or in
infrastructure projects.

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DELEGATION ENGAGES WITH UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AND ALUMNI - - - - - -
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7. This visit to Chile afforded several opportunities for Secretary
Spellings, DAS Farrell and the university presidents to interact
with Chilean university students and recent alumni of USG-supported
exchange programs.

8. At an informal dinner, ten undergraduate students from public
and private universities discussed their study and professional
plans, and learned more about opportunities at U.S. IHEs. The
university presidents shared information about programs at their
institutions. Students also offered their perceptions of the state
of higher education in Chile, citing the system's strengths and
weaknesses.

9. The delegation had an animated discussion at the Santiago
Binational Center with 25 alumni of USG-funded study programs,
mainly those who had completed Fulbright master's and doctoral
programs within the past five years. There was general agreement
on the need to broaden the range of U.S. and Chilean universities
participating in academic exchanges, involving Chile's regional
universities more extensively as sources of grantees and as hosts
for U.S. students. As University of Nebraska President J.B.
Milliken pointed out, Chilean students would do well to explore the
many outstanding academic opportunities at U.S. universities located
outside of major East and West Coast cities. Alumni cited the value
of having more U.S. teachers of English in universities throughout
Chile. Discussion also focused on the need for universities to be
active in applied research that can have practical as well as
scholarly benefits. LSU Chancellor O'Keefe noted that many
departments at his university have become heavily involved in
research to address the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana.
Several alumni observed that studying/living in the U.S. had made
them more tolerant and flexible. To many nodding heads, one UC
Berkeley alumnus said the cultural diversity he experienced in
California was a marked contrast from Chile's "stratified society."

10. Secretary Spellings' visit coincided with the award of
scholarships for graduate study abroad through Chile's "President of
the Republic" Scholarship Program. At the invitation of Foreign
Minister Alejandro Foxley, she offered congratulatory remarks to 150
awardees and their families. Many of the winners plan to study in
the U.S. Minister Foxley, Education Minister Yasna Provoste, and
Minister of Planning Clarisa Hardy, also took part in the event.
After the ceremony, nine scholarship recipients who will attend
universities in the U.S. visited the Embassy for a lively, informal
discussion with the university presidents.

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CONCLUSION
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11. The U.S. Higher Education Delegation's program generated


substantial interest at the highest levels of government and
academia. U.S. universities and training centers have been the
primary destination for Chileans who study abroad. But, the
delegation's messages -- increasing partnerships and cooperation
with Chilean universities, and emphasizing the full range of
outstanding educational programs available at institutions
throughout the U.S., the well-known as well as those that are not
household names -- were well-received.

12. The Equal Opportunities Scholarship Program -- properly
implemented -- will add an important element of access and
inclusiveness to the Chilean higher education system via U.S.
universities. FM Foxley has hailed it as "a new phase in a more
mature U.S.-Chile bilateral relationship." The fact that Secretary
Spellings, DAS Farrell, and eight articulate U.S. university
presidents came to Chile to launch it resulted in wide, positive
coverage in the print and broadcast media (refs D, E). The
delegation's active engagement clearly conveyed the commitment of
the USG and the higher education community to expanding educational
exchanges as an important element in U.S.-Chile relations.

YAMAUCHI

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