Kansas University and the University of Costa Rica next week will mark the 40th anniversary of an exchange program between the two schools.
A Kansas University delegation will travel to Costa Rica next week to sign an extension on one of the most longstanding cultural and educational university exchange programs between the United States and Latin America.
``This is one of our biggest programs,'' said Hodgie Bricke, assistant director of international programs. ``It's also one of the oldest in the United States with Latin America.''
KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway and three other KU officials will leave for Costa Rica on Sunday to sign a five-year extension of the exchange program between KU and the University of Costa Rica.
The program, established in 1958, is marking its 40th anniversary.
``It's a pretty nifty relationship,'' said Anita Herzfeld, KU professor of Latin American studies and linguistics.
About 1,200 KU students have taken classes at UCR and about 700 UCR students have taken classes at KU since the program began.
There also have been many faculty exchanges in almost every area of study, including education, biology, literature, urban planning and medicine, officials said.
``There's a significant number of the faculty at the University of Costa Rica who have received their degrees from KU,'' Bricke said.
``I think because there's been so many student participants in the program, it's really helped focus Kansas students on Central America,'' she said.
``It has certainly contributed to KU's strengths in Latin American studies,'' Bricke said.
She said that while KU has older ties with universities in Switzerland and Germany, the KU-UCR program is one of the most active.
KU has about 50 exchange programs with international schools.
Maria Bozzoli, who was a Costa Rican student attending KU in the 1950s, was present when the original UCR agreement was signed.
This spring, Bozzoli taught at KU as the Hall distinguished professor of anthropology.
She said that one of the reasons the program has thrived for 40 years -- while other U.S.-Latin American university relationships have withered -- is Costa Rica's stability.
``I think it's because Costa Rica has been such a steady democracy,'' she said.
And for Latin America, that's unusual, Herzfeld said.
Bozzoli said the relationship has led to strong ties among scholars and families at the two universities.
``I think the effect on KU was that it did away with the University of Kansas being a landlocked university,'' Herzfeld said.
UCR, located in the capital, San Jose, has about 27,500 students, a slightly larger enrollment than KU.
Hemenway and other KU officials will return from Costa Rica on May 28.
-- Mike Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is email@example.com.