• UCLA Chancellor Gene Block (left) with the other speakers at the "UCLA Celebration in Mexico City" event: alumnus Jorge Ancona (UCLA 1993), UCLA senior Ariadna Guerrero and Interim Dean of Social Sciences Abel Valenzuela, Jr. (Photo courtesy of UCLA Alumni Association.)

  • Interim Dean Valenzuela with attendees of the "UCLA Celebration in Mexico City." (Photo courtesy of UCLA Alumni Association.)

  • Tour of the newly opened Bank of Mexico Museum. (Photo: UCLA.)

  • Tour of the newly opened Bank of Mexico Museum. (Photo: UCLA.)

  • Dinner with UCLA alumni who work at the Bank of Mexico. (Photo: UCLA.)

  • Visit to the La Escuela Superior de Música on the CENART campus. (Photo: UCLA.)

  • In front of the Multimedia Center (Ricardo Legorreta, architect) on the CENART campus. (Photo: UCLA.)

  • Visit to a music studio on the CENART campus. (Photo: UCLA.)

UCLA delegation visits Mexico

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By Peggy McInerny, Director of Communications

A UCLA delegation made a recent trip to Mexico City to meet with alumni and re-invigorate campus relationships with institutions with whom UCLA has ongoing collaborative relationships.

UCLA International Institute, April 13, 2023 — A UCLA delegation visited Mexico City on March 21–22 for a long-deferred Alumni Association event and meetings with local alumni and institutional partners. UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, Vice Provost for International Studies and Global Engagement Cindy Fan, Interim Dean of Social Sciences Abel Valenzuela, Jr. and Professor Steven Loza of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music comprised the delegation.

The principal event, a “UCLA Celebration in Mexico City” organized by the UCLA Alumni Association, brought together Bruin alumni, parents, students and friends of UCLA at the Sofitel Mexico City Reforma on the evening of March 22.

After Chancellor Block provided a campus update to the assembled Bruins, short remarks were offered by Interim Dean Valenzuela, senior Ariadna Guerrero (UCLA 2023, geography) and alumnus Jorge Ancona (UCLA 1993), who is assistant vice chancellor for alumni and constituent relations at University of California Riverside. The joyous event enabled alumni to catch up with one another, meet current students and their families and, of course, participate in a rousing UCLA Eight Clap.

Chancellor Block and Vice Provost Fan participated in three additional notable visits, including a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, which recently celebrated the bicentennial of the U.S.-Mexico diplomatic relations.

At an event organized by Pau Messeguer Gally (UCLA M.A. 2017, economics) and Marco Antonio Martínez Heurta (UCLA M.A. 2020, economics), Chancellor Block and Vice Provost Fan also met with a group of UCLA alumni who work at the Bank of Mexico, which offers an internal funding program that enables employees to complete advanced degrees abroad. They had earned advanced degrees in economics, international law and business administration at UCLA.

After a tour of the newly opened Museum of the Bank of Mexico, the visit concluded with a dinner at the Club be Banqueros de Mexico, an historic treasure that was restored and remodeled by celebrated Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta. (The latter designed UCLA’s Bradley Hall and several buildings in downtown Los Angeles.)

Two nuggets of history stood out from the museum tour. Banco de México, a highly regarded institution today, was already a pre-eminent financial institution in the Americas during the colonial period. And the term “dollar” was borrowed by early U.S. governments from the Mexican government. The enjoyable visit enabled the UCLA leaders to engage with two generations of alumni living in Mexico City, discover their interests and learn how best UCLA can engage with alumni there and throughout Mexico.

“UCLA has been characterized by training high-quality human capital from Mexico within its classrooms, who have returned to relevant positions in the country, either in the public sector or in the private sector,” said Martínez Heurta. “Gathering all of us together for the celebration and listening to their stories of success and contributions to the community was an amazing and unique experience.”

Professor Steven Loza, an ethnomusicologist who chairs the global jazz studies program at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, arranged a memorable visit to the Centro Nacional de las Artes (CENART). An artistic training center located in Mexico City, CENART houses five schools of visual, film, performing and fine arts, together with four arts research centers, an arts library and a media arts center.

Professor Loza, Chancellor Block and Vice Provost Fan met with past and present leaders of the Escuela Superior de Música and the National Music Research Center, and toured the campus of striking modern Mexican architecture (including Legoretta’s tower — the symbol of CENART).

The UCLA ethnomusicologist, whose grandparents on both sides of the family immigrated to the U.S. during the Mexican Revolution, gave a touching speech about 40 years of UCLA-CENART collaborations facilitated by himself and Jose Antonio Robles Cahero of the National Music Research Center.

That collaboration, which continues apace, has spanned short-term music student exchanges; major music and arts festivals in both countries; performances by UCLA ensembles at CENART, together with lectures and workshops led by UCLA music faculty; performances at UCLA by CENART students, Mexican musicians, the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico and the Mexico City Philharmonic Orchestra — to name but a few. Regular student exchanges between the interdisciplinary Global Jazz Studies program and the Escuela Superior de Música are, said Loza, “transforming the sociocultural outlook of all participating students in both nations.”

In particular, Loza noted that UCLA scholars’ research on and recordings of Mexican music since the 1950s have been a “form of cultural and intellectual diplomacy [that] has, to many, represented more progress and understanding between the two nations than the multiple attempts to nurture binational relations in politics, economic and science.”

All in all, a short but essential personal visit to re-invigorate UCLA’s relationships with alumni and institutions in our region’s most important neighbor.