CWU News

CWU to Forge Higher Education Ties With Cuba

“There’s a whole new set of relationships developing with Cuba,” says Ann Radwan, executive director of Central Washington University’s International Studies and Programs. “The networks that we will develop will be fantastic. It’s exciting.”

CWU was selected as one of just 12 institutions nationwide to participate in the 2015 International Academic Partnership Program. 


This year’s program, which began last week, forges new relationships between colleges and universities in the United States and Cuba.

The selection is particularly significant in a new era of mutual collaboration initiated by the two countries with the resumption of diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies in Washington, DC, and Havana on Monday, July 20.

Stella Moreno, director for CWU’s Center for Latino and Latin American Studies, points out, “Cuba has more than 60 universities that offer undergraduate and graduate programs in the sciences, the arts and humanities, technology, education, and medicine. The combination of USA and Cuban talents will prove alluring for the development of cultural and academic exchanges, and venues of discovery and progress in both countries. There is so much to learn and no time to lose.”

The Institute of International Education (IIE), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting international education and access to education worldwide, administers the partnership program. Its most well-known endeavor is the Fulbright Program.

Radwan, who has had interactions with the organization for several years, notes, “The people at IIE are really quite expert at developing the architecture to support university partnerships. It’s then up to us to develop the partnerships.”

CWU’s Office of International Studies and Programs faculty, students, and administrators will participate in a range of training opportunities this year pertaining to implementation, as the university embarks on creating sustainable educational partnerships with Cuba.

In addition, the university will establish a campus steering committee to work on partnership development. Mark Auslander, anthropology and museum studies professor and director of the Museum of Culture and Environment, will chair the group, which is scheduled to begin by the end of July.

“Many faculty at Central are delighted at the prospect of partnering closely with Cuban educational and cultural institutions,” Auslander states. “Our students are fascinated by Cuban literature and the arts, Cuban history, and the complex challenges of democratization and economic reform in the new era.”

The committee is charged with creating a strategic plan for CWU’s new ventures in Cuba, which could lead to increased diversity among international students coming to Ellensburg.

Radwan predicts, “I think there will be a huge increase in US government support for Cuban students to study in the United States. This university has a lot to offer.”

Ken Cohen, director of the International Sustainable Development Institute; Elvin Delgado, director of the Institute for Integrated Energy Studies; and Auslander have been tapped to represent CWU on a trip to the island nation in October. The three faculty members work collaboratively with the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies.

“I wanted a diverse group of people going and they have very different interests and backgrounds,” says Radwan about those selections. “They’ve already worked in both Central and South America, so it seemed natural.”

Auslander adds, “We’re eager to learn from our Cuban colleagues and develop opportunities for collaborative learning for our students and [Cuban] students on the island.”

Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of Content Development, 509-963-1487,

July 24, 2015