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International Focus

Spring 2010

inside this edition Loftin Named 24th University President China-US Conference Brazos Valley Worldfest


Dr. R. Bowen Loftin Confirmed as 24th President of Texas A&M University

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r. R. Bowen Loftin was formally named the 24th president of Texas A&M University today (Friday, Feb.12.) He was selected as the sole finalist for the position last month after an extensive nationwide search and had served as interim president of the flagship university for more than six months. The nine-member Board of Regents of The Texas A&M University System unanimously approved Loftin’s selection during a special telephonic meeting after the statemandated 21-day period to officially name him president of the nation’s seventh-largest university. “The extensive and inclusive search process that we conducted to find the very best individual to lead the flagship institution of the A&M System resulted in the conclusion that we already had the right person in place. Today we have confirmed and formalized that decision,” said Board of Regents Chairman Morris E. Foster. “As the university deals with the realities of uncertain economic times, I can think of no better person to lead Texas A&M as we work tirelessly to maintain our firm commitment to ensure that students continue to receive a top-

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quality education at an affordable price,” Foster continued. “Dr. Loftin has a proven record as a visionary leader, and I believe that under his continued leadership, Texas A&M will not only remain a strong and resilient university, but will become even greater.” Loftin previously served for four years as a vice president and chief executive officer of Texas A&M University at Galveston, the institution’s marine-oriented branch campus, where he also is professor of maritime systems engineering. He was widely applauded for his leadership during Hurricane Ike, which resulted in moving the entire Galveston campus operation to the main campus in College Station – an effort believed to be unprecedented in higher education. “I am humbled and deeply honored to lead Texas A&M , my alma mater, and truly one of the top universities in the nation,” Loftin said. “I am extremely grateful for the extraordinary support of the Board of Regents, Chancellor McKinney and the entire Aggie family during my tenure as interim president, and I pledge to continue to do my very best to ensure that Texas A&M remains a great university.

“Of utmost importance as we move forward is that we must not waver from our firm commitment to our core mission of teaching, research and service, despite budget constraints facing universities around the nation, including Texas A&M,” Loftin continued. “Our efforts to maintain a culture of excellence as outlined in Vision 2020 remain our highest priority and will play an integral role in enhancing our national reputation. “This is an exciting time for Texas A&M — with record student enrollment, enhancement of our infrastructure with construction of several new buildings and major improvements to many others, and the significant contributions to our state, nation and world have never been greater. We will continue to attract many of the best faculty anywhere to teach our students and conduct important research and scholarship intended to help improve the lives and the economic vitality of Texas and the rest of the nation,” Loftin concluded. As a 1970 physics graduate of Texas A&M, Loftin joins the ranks of a select few individuals chosen to lead his alma mater. He also holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from Rice Uni-

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This is an exciting time for Texas A&M — with record student enrollment, enhancement of our infrastructure with construction of several new building and major improvements to many others, and the significant contributions to our state, nation and world have never been greater

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versity, earned in 1973 and 1975, respectively, both also in physics. Born in Hearne, Loftin grew up in Navasota, located about 20 miles south of the Texas A&M campus. Texas A&M System Chancellor Michael D. McKinney joined in applauding Loftin’s confirmation. “Dr. Loftin was an exceptional leader during the period in which he served as interim president, just as he was in leading Texas A&M University at Galveston. He guided the Galveston campus to record growth and the response and recovery from one of the largest natural disasters in our country’s history. Texas A&M is certainly stronger as a result of Dr. Loftin’s inspired and highly effective leadership.” Prior to assuming leadership of Texas A&M at Galveston, Loftin served at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, as professor of electrical and computer engineering and professor of computer science. Additionally, he was Old Dominion’s director of simulation programs and had responsibility for the institution’s graduate programs in modeling and simulation. He also served as executive director of the

Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center. Earlier in his career, Loftin was a professor in and chair of the Department of Computer Science and director of the NASA Virtual Environments Research Institute at the University of Houston. Loftin has frequently served as a consultant–to both industry and government—in the areas of modeling and simulation, advanced training technologies, and scientific/engineering data visualization. He is the author or co-author of more than 100 technical publications. He serves on numerous advisory committees and panels sponsored by governmental and professional organizations. His numerous citations and honors include the American Association of Artificial Intelligence Award for an innovative application of artificial intelligence; NASA’s Space Act Award; the NASA Public Service Medal; the 1995 NASA Invention of the Year Award, and the University of Houston-Downtown Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Service.

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Castles, Crepes and Co-ops

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he curriculum offers castles, crêpes, and cooperatives; not your typical Aggie fare. Each weekday, after a café latté and a croissant in the homes of their host families, Texas A&M students walk along 55 rue Rabelais to the Ecole Supérieure d’ Agriculture d’Angers. The Ecole Supérieure d’Agriculture, the equivalent to an American college of agriculture, is located in the Loire Valley outside of Paris. Located in Angers (pronounced on-jay), the Ecole Supérieure hosts Texas A&M University undergraduates and a visiting professor from the College of Agriculture, as well as groups from other American universities. Like everything in France, the school’s origin is embedded in history. After the French Revolution, Napoleon wanted to rebuild French infrastructure. He established the écoles or public schools, known for their practical training. Le Groupe ESA is a unique program offered by the Ecole Supérieure. The purpose is to introduce students to the French way of life and the rich heritage of French culture with concentrated looks at agriculture, agribusiness, viticulture, rural tourism and gastronomy. In return, Ecole Supérieure students attend Texas A&M during the year. “With the exchange arrangements, this program offers students the lowest cost opportunity to study abroad,” says Pascale Parker, program coordinator in the Study Abroad Programs Office of Texas A&M University. With 10, these Aggies make up the largest contingent of the several American universities in Le Groupe ESA. The curriculum is a combination of classes and field trips. In the mornings, students take a variety of courses, learning about agriculture policies in Europe or conversational French. Instruction is in English, but learning rudimentary French is encouraged so that students can embrace daily life and communicate with their host families. At midday, it is on to the bus for the tours. On the field trips, the Aggies hear, see, smell, touch and taste the specialties of French agriculture. These field trips give students an experience in France to compare and contrast their American-based knowledge of agriculture. “Our program shows students different ways of producing, creating, possibilities and niches. By seeing this they start to think creatively,” says Gaël Roul of Le Groupe ESA. In the next 48 hours, the students will tour a pig farm, an organic vegetable farm, a salt marsh, a distillery, and a chocolatier, and finally enjoy an exquisite meal. Christy Wick ’10, a double major in agribusiness and poultry science, is from Hallettsville, a Texas cattle town. On Wednesday, she stands in a wood-paneled salon of the Chateau La Poterie admiring its chandeliers. Christy notes that castles and chateaux, while impressive on the outside, are cold on the inside. So far this is her favorite, a comfortable temperature inside and it seems “almost livable.” Since arriving in France, she has satisfied a girlhood admiration for white fairy tale castles which speckle the Loire Valley and has developed a new fondness for crêpes, the French fast food. “I am glad my mother, a flight attendant who did lots of traveling, encouraged me to make this trip,” she says. After a ham and butter sandwich in the chateau park, it is on to Roland Reaute, an artisan chocolate-maker, for a demonstration of molding and production, and purchasing the delicacies at the company store. On the way, Christy offers an observation on French life, inspired by an outdoor market around the corner from her host family that offers de-feathered poultry with heads still attached. “I wonder how food could be fresher in America. Maybe not that fresh, but something better than what’s in the average American convenience store.” The observation is just beginning to expand her thinking and will develop into a final paper comparing French and American small markets and food distribution. “I never thought about it before France, but now I am even open to working internationally,” Christy reveals with a pretty smile.

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the intense orange flavor. At the museum displaying the century of international advertising campaigns used to market the Cointreau classic rectangular bottle, it’s serious business: No pictures allowed. At 11:30 a.m., the tour finishes at the reception area bar, where the students are offered a colorful “Cointreapolitan.” Returning to the école’s front gate, an announcement is made about the optional afternoon pig farm tour. The students joke about finally seeing the origin of their ham On Thursday in Guérande by the coast, the bus sandwiches. Conversation turns quickly to plans for dinner. pulls into the parking lot of Terre de Sel, a salt marsh. “Are you going?” Jimmy asks the students and professors. The full lot is proof that agriculture tourism thrives in Tonight several will gather at Le Savre D’Anne, a France. The visitors are here to see how sea salt is handrestaurant in Angers. Jimmy describes it as “a restaurant harvested. American students, raised on industrially you absolutely cannot miss if you are anywhere nearby.” The cost will be about 85 euros, or more than a $100 per student, produced, salt may have never but despite the price, several imagined flavor or an ancient are going. The reservation is process like this. During the late by American standards tour, the Paludier (salt maker) but is typical in France. explains a particular detail: At 9 p.m., with light Grey salt is used for cooking, still pouring over the whitewhile the fleur de sel (salt walled, blue-doored Angers, flower) is used for flavoring the students begin to arrive on at the table. “So depending foot. Le Savre is located in a on what you are cooking, the limestone Angers house with a exact salt or particular blend black slate roof. Instead of the could bring out the flavor?” -Paludier (Salt Maker) typical dark blue front door, asks student Jimmy Tran ’09. Le Savre greets the students Guerande, France Jimmy, enthusiastic with lime green entry. and driven, is a self-described When it is time to order, each student decides “super senior” from Houston. Upon his return, he will how many courses he would like. Christy selects seven graduate from the College of Architecture with a degree in and Jimmy, who wants to try them all, orders 13. As the global arts planning, design and construction. His focus is first course of lobster is brought to the students, the words to take this experience and infuse it into his career, which traditionally offered in France before a meal are then spoken he says “will definitely involve food.” For Jimmy, the study by all: “Bon Appétit.” of French agricultural practices and production will refine his career, seasoning it with knowledge. The Paludier offers this closing remark to the American students: “I hope your visit will open your mind and your way of thinking, providing a bit of diversity, new ideas, new approaches.” After a requisite ham sandwich, the bus heads for the agricultural cooperative. The students hear about the business model of the organic cooperative, where members pay for the food in advance, guaranteeing them weekly products and giving the growers money and customers up front. The evening ends down a winding road as a vegetable farmer shows off organic production techniques. Jimmy is still paying close attention. After class, Friday’s first tour is the Cointreau (pronounced quan-tro) factory. This one has the students excited to visit. Since 1875, the Cointreau factory has distilled liquor that Texans know as an ingredient in the topshelf margarita. The tour guide tells how distillation yields

“ ” I hope your visit will open your mind and your way of thinking, providing a bit of diversity, new ideas, new approaches.

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National Science Foundation names Texas A&M member of Top 20 Research Performers

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exas A&M University excels in many areas, including outstanding student programs, national championship sports teams, and great engineering and business programs. The University also excels in academic research, as proven by the National Science Foundation’s ranking on the annual Top 20 Academic Research Performers in the U.S.

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The foundation is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity and welfare and to secure the national defense.” The federal government is the largest source of university research and development funding in science and engineering, and the foundation is no exception with an annual budget of about $6.06 billion. It funds about 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. Each year, the National Science Foundation surveys 690 U.S. institutions and ranks them according to research and development expenditures in science and engineering. Texas A&M University replaced Washington University in St. Louis at the number 20 spot in Fiscal Year 2008 with expenditures totaling $582 million. Our school’s rank is joined by other prestigious institutions such as John Hopkins University, Duke University, Stanford University, MIT and University of California at Berkeley but is the only Texas institution to rank in the foundation’s Top 20 for 2009. Dr. Jeffrey R. Seemann, vice president for research at A&M, said “it means that we have some of the best faculty in the world (nearly 3,000 of them) doing research that is vitally important in a whole variety of arenas. We are

making gains all over the place, our environmental sciences program has shown enormous leaps and bounds, and engineering of course we have one of the most spectacular sets of engineering programs in the country, in addition to our social sciences, agriculture, geo sciences and architecture arenas. We really have a lot to be proud of here.” “By joining the NSF Top 20, Texas A&M takes a significant step toward its goal of ranking among the Top 10 research universities in the United States,” Seemann said. “For A&M to continue moving up on the list we can’t let off on all of the important things that we are doing. Texas is doing a lot investing in higher education, so we must continue to hire great faculty and continue to give them the resources that they need to do cutting-edge research. We need to find new ways to bring everyone together around big concerns and issues, to attract those next big expenditures. And we need to continue to invest in this University in order to advance ourselves in this competitive environment.” In addition, the University has opened the Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Building, a $100 million facility that will enable researchers to make what could be world-changing discoveries. With more than 30 lab facilities, the new building located next to Simpson Drill Field will be available to world-class scientists who are striving to make a difference through research. International Focus


Hispanic Business Names Cepeda-Benito One Of “Top 100 Influentials”

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This recognition may speak more of the high reputation of Texas A&M University than on my own achievements

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ispanic Business magazine has named Antonio CepedaBenito, dean of faculties and associate provost at Texas A&M University, to the publication’s 2009/2010 list of the nation’s 100 “most influential” Hispanics. The list also includes Hispanic leaders selected from the halls of power in Washington, the corporate world, information technology professionals, the health care sector, education, the media and other areas. “Obviously I’m honored and very happy with the recognition, as it is a nice feather on my hat and gives my kids some bragging rights and motivates them to feel proud of their ‘papá,’” Cepeda-Benito says about being recognized by “Hispanic Business.” “However, I’m mindful that this recognition may speak more of the high reputation and caliber of Texas A&M University than of my own achievements.” Cepeda-Benito, a member of the Texas A&M faculty for the past 15 years, holds the rank of professor of psychology and has served as associate dean of faculties and faculty ombudsperson since 2006. He was named dean of faculties in May and succeeds Karan Watson, who was recently promoted to vice provost and currently serves as interim provost and executive vice president for academics. “I feel fortunate to have been given the opportunity to serve this great university by assuming an important leadership role. I also

feel indebted to the many friends and colleagues who have supported and mentored me throughout the years,” Cepeda-Benito adds. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has a Ph.D. in psychology from Purdue University. His research connects the disciplines of behavioral neuroscience and clinical psychology to investigate drug addiction and eating disorders. He has published extensively and his research has been supported by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Texas Department of Health and the Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology. He has served almost exclusively Spanish-speaking individuals and supervised students who also work with low-income, Spanish-speaking clients. Cepeda-Benito has received numerous awards while at Texas A&M, including Psychology Teacher of the Year, the Academic Inspiration Award and various diversity service awards. He has received two National Awards of Excellence from the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse (NHSN), one for contributions in Public Service (2006) and the other for mentoring (2008). He is a founding member of the steering committee of the RED LatinoAmerica (REDLA) on drug addiction and the founding chair of the International Research Collaboration Subcommittee of the NHSN.

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Brazos Valley Worldfest 2009

Investing in a future of cultural understanding U

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nder the golden rays of the November sunrise, volunteers and participants began the early morning set up for the third annual Brazos Valley Worldfest. Hundreds of green volunteer shirts could be seen flocking to Wolf Pen Creek Park, which provided a beautiful backdrop for the brightly colored booths and cultural attire that filled the festival. The work and dedication of the volunteers was necessary for such a large undertaking. Kelley Nease, volunteer coordinator for the festival marveled at the efforts of students, families and citizens eager to volunteer, “Each year the volunteers have been the backbone of the festival.

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Every smile they give, every craft they make, or every banner they hang--they are there because they want to serve this community and show people that the Brazos Valley is welcoming and excited about the unique variety of backgrounds, traditions and cultures of the families that live here.� By mid morning, the sidewalks were lined with booths and vendors and filled with attendees of all ages enjoying the atmosphere. Worldfest commemorated international appreciation with cultural displays, demonstrations, international cuisine, performances, children’s crafts, educational competitions, camels and many other activities. The event presented more than 45 cultural displays this year in addition International Focus


to the other festivities. The Confucius Institute/Chinese Students and Scholars Association won this year’s cultural display award with their brightly colored booth, followed by the Bolivian and Malaysian Student Associations. Stopping by the Ecuadorian cultural booth, attendees learned about the geography and animal life of the four main regions of Ecuador while getting a taste of its traditional clothing associated with the culture. Petroleum engineering graduate student Ruth Fernandez represented her native country as she excitedly welcomed attendees into her booth. “I am out here today to show what Ecuador is all about,” Fernandez said. “I so greatly enjoy Texas culture, and this is an opportunity for Texas to enjoy the culture of Ecuador.” Fernandez has participated in every Worldfest since its foundation and said she is amazed at the amount of growth the event has experienced. Since the festival’s inception in 2007, it has seen many changes, including the location, the participants and vendors, but its goals remain the same. Festival Coordinator Kim Fox said she believes breaking down cultural barriers and ridding the world of preconceived cultural notions is the main purpose of Worldfest. “International awareness is at the heart of Brazos Valley Worldfest,” Fox said. “As students understand world cultures, they break down cultural assumptions and develop understanding. Teachers, parents and students are together investing in a future of cross-cultural acceptance.” Brazos Valley Worldfest strongly embraces this mantra as it seeks to educate the entire community through activities, performances and more importantly

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interaction with international participants. The event served as a great environment for fostering community among Texas A&M international students, said aerospace engineering graduate student Reema Padia. “There are so many cultures here that I have never seen or learned about before,” Padia said. “This event is just as much of a learning opportunity for us as it is for American visitors.” The performances as well as the cultural booths provided an educational experience, as audiences watched Flamenco, Czech, Mexican dances and many more. New to the stage was the Kaminari Taiko, a group from Houston performing a Japanese dance accompanied by “large drums?” who left the audience breathless with their intense movements and beats. Also a newcomer to the stage was the Discovery School’s international fashion show which featured the traditional dress of women and men from all over the globe. This sparked interest from the audience as the history and purpose of each garment was highlighted. The participants exited the stage to find many words of appreciation and questions about their culture and life adjustments in Bryan-College Station. By the end of the festival, participants and performers alike shared in learning about others’ cultures and Texas A&M University and the city of College Station, organizers of the festival, enjoyed the success of the festival before beginning the plans for next year’s Brazos Valley Worldfest.

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