April 12, 2016
DALLAS (SMU) – SMU will expand its study of the important relationship between Texas and its cross-border neighbor by establishing the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center. The center will be part of the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies in Dedman College and will work in collaboration with the Cox School of Business.
Texas and Mexico Share Common
Bonds and Challenges
DALLAS (SMU) — Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Claudia Ruiz Massieu, was keynote speaker at SMU’s April 7 opening event of the two-day Jonathan E. Owens Memorial Foundation Conference, “The Political Economy of Texas-Mexico: Common Bonds, Shared Challenges,” co-sponsored by SMU’s John G. Tower Center for Political Affairs and the Federal Reserve of Dallas.
Massieu opened her talk by asking if anyone knew when Mexico last “invaded” the U.S.
“No, it wasn’t 1846,” she said. “It was 2005, when Mexican troops crossed the U.S border to … help provide more than 170,000 meals [and other supplies] to people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.” Ruiz then outlined Mexicans’ significant economic contributions to Texas and America.
Joining Massieu at the event, which also introduced SMU’s new Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center, was GRUMA-Mission Foods Chairman of the Board and CEO Juan Antonio González Moreno, Mexico’s Consul General Jose Octavio Tripp, SMU President R. Gerald Turner, SMU Vice President for Development and External Affairs Brad Cheves, and Tower Center Director James Hollifield.
“Today we are building bridges, not walls,” Moreno said of the new research and training center, to be overseen by SMU’s Tower Center in Dedman College in collaboration with the Cox School of Business. “Working together is the best way to find solutions to common challenges,” he added.
The center is made possible by a total commitment of $4 million from GRUMA-Mission Foods, a Mexican corporation based in Dallas. The corporation made a commitment of $1 million in September 2015 toward the establishment of the unique initiative, first called “The Texas-Mexico Program,” to begin researching and promoting policy-based discussion on the economic, political and social ties between Mexico and Texas.
An additional $3 million from GRUMA-Mission Foods will support the expanded reach of the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center, whose research programs will focus on such issues as trade, investment, dynamic economic sectors, government and political relations, human capital and security.
The additional gift was announced at an April 7 SMU conference featuring an address by Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. She noted that the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center will be pivotal to strengthening the links between industry and the academy, and called the effort a “public-private success story.”
"We share more in common than what divides us," Ruiz Massieu said. "That's why this program is so important. America is a beacon of liberty that represents a bridge of understanding, one not built by divisive rhetoric.”
“I’m sure the late Sen. John Tower would be pleased to know that the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center will be rooted in the academic center at SMU that carries his name,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Being able to partner with the Cox School, particularly through its Texas Economic Freedom Project, creates a strategic opportunity for improving relations between Texas and Mexico whose benefits can’t be overstated.”
GRUMA Chairman of the Board and CEO Juan Antonio González Moreno drew sustained applause from conference attendees when, in announcing the financial commitment, he said, “Today we are building bridges, not walls. Working together is the best way to find solutions to common challenges.”
The center will make public policy recommendations based on discussion and research on Mexico-U.S. economic, historic, political, social, and border issues through:
- Production of original research, reports, and white papers
- Binational, bilingual annual conferences
- Academic seminars and public forums
Research conducted through the center will help to shape the growing economic relationship between North Texas and Mexico, between Texas and Mexico, and between the United States and Mexico. The research is expected to stimulate economic dialogue and integration among regions and states in Mexico and the U.S.
The expanded funding will enable SMU to recruit a recognized leader to direct the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center. The executive director will travel regularly to Mexico to collaborate with partnering institutions and to present findings from center research projects.
Mexico's Consul General Octavio Tripp noted the appropriate timing of the announcement, occurring during a presidential election season that includes debate on issues of immigration and border security. “This event is like a dream come true ... especially at such a relevant time,” Tripp said. "The Center will allow for understanding in a systematic, holistic way."
SMU and Dallas are at the geographic crossroads of the increasingly integrated market amplified by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Mexico and Canada. The city also is home to the greatest concentration of Fortune 100 companies in the United States outside of New York City. Texas exported to Mexico goods valued at more than $102 billion in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, and imported from Mexico goods valued at over $90 billion for the same period.
“Clearly, the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center has the potential to significantly improve relations between neighbors who depend on each other,” said
Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs. “We are grateful for the opportunity to make a real difference in international relations.”
Scenes from the conference:
GRUMA Chairman of the Board and CEO Juan Antonio González Moreno, Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Claudia Ruiz Massieu and SMU President R. Gerald Turner announcing the new academic center.
Officials from Mexico, GRUMA-Mission Foods and SMU at the signing ceremony creating the Mission-Foods Texas-Mexico Center.
GRUMA Chairman of the Board and CEO Juan Antonio González Moreno shakes President Turner’s hand after signing the agreement creating the Mission-Foods Texas-Mexico Center.
SMU President R. Gerald Turner and Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, at Jno.E. Owens Memorial Foundation Conference at SMU.
ABOUT THE TOWER CENTER
In the spirit of John Tower‘s commitment to educate and inspire a new generation of thoughtful leaders, the Tower Center seeks to bridge the gap between the world of ideas, scholarship and teaching, and the practice of politics. The primary mission of the Tower Center is to promote the study of politics and international affairs and to stimulate an interest in ethical public service among undergraduates. The Tower Center is an academic center where all parties and views are heard in a marketplace of ideas, and the Center will pursue its mission in a non-partisan manner.
SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls approximately 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.