search button
newscenter logo
Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Follow SDSU Follow SDSU on Twitter Follow SDSU on Facebook SDSU RSS Feed

SDSU's Ramona Perez (second from right) and Maria Keckler (right) are photographed during the 2022 International Tribute Awards. SDSU's Ramona Perez (second from right) and Maria Keckler (right) are photographed during the 2022 International Tribute Awards.

Chamber of Commerce Award Recognizes SDSU’s Leadership in Fostering Binational Collaboration

SDSU has been recognized for its commitment and ongoing contribution to cross-border collaboration.
By SDSU News Team

San Diego State University last week was recognized at the 2022 International Tribute Awards for its commitment and ongoing contribution to cross-border collaboration. Presented by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the awards honor outstanding leaders who have championed efforts to develop and strengthen diplomatic economic, cultural, educational and community ties between the U.S. and Mexico.


Ramona Pérez, director of the Center for Latin American Studies and professor of anthropology, and Maria Keckler, director of International Affairs Strategy and Communications and lead architect of the RE:BORDER Binational Conference, received the Cross-Border Collaboration Award on December 7. Both were honored for their roles in leading collaboration with a variety of stakeholders across the border that resulted in the inauguration of the SDSU Oaxaca Center for Mesoamerican Studies in Oaxaca and four years of RE:BORDER annual conferences, which take place on both sides of the border. 


“Each of the awardees represents a success story of what we can accomplish when we work together as a unified, binational community,” said Kenia Zamarripa, executive director of International Business Affairs at the Chamber. “We are excited to honor this year’s international champions and their contribution to expanding bilateral ties as we celebrate 200 years of the U.S.-Mexico diplomatic relationship.” 


Through their work, Pérez and Keckler helped connect SDSU’s faculty and students as well as local community and industry leaders with partners in Mexico. 


Pérez, who has conducted research in Oaxaca for more than 25 years, was integral to the opening of the SDSU Oaxaca Center for Mesoamerican Studies in May. The center expands SDSU’s linkage to institutions in Mexico and demonstrates the university’s commitment to being a partner in addressing global issues. It will also boost the university’s goal of achieving R1 status as a top-tier, premier Hispanic-Serving Institution.


RELATED: SDSU Opens Mesoamerican Center in Oaxaca 


Keckler has led the organization of the RE:BORDER Binational Conference since its inception in 2019. This year’s conference took place Nov. 14-16 and was hosted by SDSU and SDSU Imperial Valley in partnership with Universidad Autónoma de Baja California (UABC) in Tijuana and Mexicali and El Colegio de la Frontera Norte. RE:BORDER aims to foster and facilitate transborder diplomacy, cross-disciplinary relationships and binational collaboration among researchers, public policy experts and community stakeholders to address the shared challenges facing the Cali-Baja transborder region. 


This year’s conference theme was innovation and sustainability. Previous conferences have explored issues surrounding water quality, mobility and migration, and public health and mental health in the transborder region.


SDSU’s strategic plan outlines how deeply we embrace our leadership role in the transborder region and responsibility as a Hispanic-Serving Institution,” said SDSU President Adela de la Torre during the inauguration of the RE:BORDER 2022 conference. “It is more critical than ever to understand that education, health, commerce and culture are inextricably linked — and we can only create a better future when we address them together as researchers, students, community members, policymakers and business leaders.


“Together, we have the power to tackle challenges, seize opportunities and create meaningful change.”


Additional participants included state Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, who in keynote remarks said “California is lucky to be the state that has the most favorable view of immigrants … we can work on projects that reduce border crossing wait times, increase trade, (and) help invite immigrants and their new ideas into our economy to help.” 


UABC Secretary General Luis Enrique Palafox said RE:BORDER has become an occasion for academics, students, and members of different sectors “to address, reflect on, and propose new ideas related to their respective topics of expertise from the US-Mexico border.


“We are proud to be part of the binational team organizing one of the most important events in the CaliBaja region,” he said.


And Cristina Alfaro, SDSU associate vice president for international affairssaid the event promotes trusting relationships that foster diplomacy and productive dialogue.


“The Chamber’s recognition of the impact of SDSU’s RE:BORDER Conference and collaboration across the border with Oaxaca communities,” she said, “is a powerful acknowledgement that SDSU is delivering on its promise to galvanize and provide leadership … positively impacting innovation, collaboration, and research in the border region.”