Mexican university faculty being trained at Wayland in special grant program

July 29, 2011

SAN ANTONIO -- Faculty members from six Mexican universities are wrapping up a three-week orientation and the first class in a master's degree program that will prepare them to better train the factory workers in their country and ultimately increase productivity.

A partnership between Wayland Baptist University -- specifically its San Antonio campus -- and Alamo Colleges resulted in a Master of Arts in Management program specifically designed to benefit the maquiladora in Mexico, factories on the northern Mexico border that have grown exponentially since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was put into place. The factories in Mexico export manufactured materials back into the U.S. with special tariff and duty treatments under the agreement.

The partnership will help better prepare the faculty members to train the workers in the Mexican factories, many of which are owned by American companies. The majority of the faculty members have bachelor's degrees only.

"They came to us and asked us to build a program for them," explained Dr. Jim Antenen, executive director of the San Antonio campus of Wayland. "They wanted a practical program, which is what our M.A.M. is, with a lot of ethics training infused into it. We thought it might also be good to have some homeland security exposure and international business as well. The resulting degree is pretty unique to this group."

Antenen said the unique degree pulls together coursework from Wayland's online Master of Public Administration degree as well as the School of Business, and he credits business dean Dr. Otto B. Schacht with putting together the degree proposal. A government grant called TIES -- Training, Internships, Exchanges and Scholarships -- is covering the cost of the entire program because it mutually benefits both American and Mexican commerce. The interest for the program began several years ago but the funding was not in place to make it come to fruition.

The group of 12 faculty arrived in San Antonio on July 11 to begin their first session, an ethics class, and the orientation into the program, which included training in Blackboard, the online learning platform Wayland uses. Alamo Colleges is providing the English as a Second Language training for the participants.

The 12 participants were selected by the Mexican factories and went through the same admissions process as other students seeking enrollment at Wayland would. Antenen said while many already speak fluent English, some may need some help from Alamo along the way.

After their on-site training is completed, the faculty will return to Mexico and complete the next 30 hours of the degree online through Wayland's Virtual Campus. The final six hours will be completed at the San Antonio campus through another intensive face-to-face session including a strategic management class and the capstone for the program, which wraps all the coursework together.

Antenen said Wayland is excited about the partnership and affirmed in its mission, which is what drew the Mexican factories to the university.

"I think they were looking for a faith-based institution with a good reputation for teaching ethics, and we have that reputation out there," Antenen said. "The fact that we were able to work with them in a flexible fashion was also very appealing to them, and they were able to do it all within the confines of the grant."

Antenen said the affordability of the program and the Wayland campus format of four 11-week terms annually made the program easier and faster to complete for the faculty members. The group represents six schools in Mexico: Universidad Tecnológica de Coahuila, Universidad Tecnológica de Juarez, Universidad Tecnológica de Matamoros, Universidad Tecnológica De Nuevo Laredo, Universidad Tecnológica de Tamaulipas Norte and Universidad Tecnológica Norte de Coahuila.

More than one million Mexicans work in more than 3,000 maquiladora manufacturing or export assembly plants in northern Mexico, producing parts and products for the U.S.