Image courtesy of The Houston Chronicle.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon is currently in talks for a post-presidency stint with several U.S. universities, including the University of Texas at Austin. How likely it is that he will take the job, though, remains in question.
President of Mexico Felipe Calderón is in talks for a post-presidency stint with several U.S. universities, including the University of Texas at Austin.
Calderón, whose six-year term has been shaped by his war on drug cartels, has met twice with UT President William Powers Jr. but he has also had similar talks with Harvard, Georgetown and Stanford.
A position in academia is not unheard of for an ex-president. If Calderón decides to pursue academia when his presidency ends this December, he will be following the footsteps of another former Mexican president — Ernesto Zedillo. Zedillo, whose term lasted from 1994 to 2000, left Mexico when his presidency ended and returned to his alma mater, Yale University, where he is still a faculty member and director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.
What Calderón will decide, however, remains unclear. Articles published regarding his post-presidency stint in academia have mostly quoted unnamed sources, and neither UT nor Calderón’s administration have been willing to disclose any information on the potential hire.
The only thing Calderón has been clear about is his desire to work on regional trade, education and environmental issues. Focusing on these areas could help Calderón's image even more. In an interview with the Mexico Bureau of The Associated Press, Rafael Fernández de Castro, chairman of the Department of International Studies at the Mexico Autonomous Institute of Technology, said history will be kind on Calderón.
"Calderón is a very young president and will be a young former president," Fernández said. "History will be benevolent to him, and he will be remembered as someone who did a lot of good for Mexico and who can still do a lot of good for Mexico."
Fernández, a former adviser to the president on international issues, is a 1986 graduate of UT's LBJ School of Public Affairs. In the AP interview, Fernández said he couldn't talk about the leader's negotiations with UT because he had no knowledge of them. However, he shared his ideas on what Calderón's presence would mean for UT.
"As a UT Longhorn, I can say that the community of UT would be blessed to have someone of Calderón's intellectual, moral and leadership stature. It would be a blessing for UT because I'm convinced Calderón will go into the books as a great president," he said.
While some focus on the positive, one UT faculty mentioned there might be some dangers involved. According to Mercedes de Uriarte, associate professor in the School of Journalism, who also teaches interdisciplinary courses in American Studies and Latin American Studies, the war on drugs could follow the head of state.
"Given the fact that Austin is now a distribution center for drugs and sex slavery, and since Calderon mounted military against those activities, he'll need a lot of personal security," de Uriarte said.
The end of the year should bring a final decision and more information. It remains to be seen how Mexico's mix of economic growth and crime, including kidnapping, home robbery, and extortion affect Calderón's decision and the way he is perceived by U.S. universities.