Emory Report
May 18, 2009
Volume 61, Number 31

Vicente Fox giving the Commencenment keynote address.


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May 18
, 2009
Mexican leader and Emory are scholarly partners

By Kirsten Tagami

As president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006, Vicente Fox, who delivered the keynote address and received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at Emory’s 164th Commencement, made immigration a priority. It was one of the first issues he brought up with President George W. Bush, and he boldly called for open borders with the U.S. and protection of the rights of undocumented Mexican workers.

Although he’s no longer in office, immigration remains near to Fox’s heart. It’s one of the main areas of scholarly collaboration planned between Emory and Centro Fox, the presidential library and research center modeled loosely on The Carter Center.

Faculty from Emory’s history and sociology departments, the School of Law, and the Rollins School of Public Health have been working on a research agenda with colleagues from Centro Fox, said Sita Ranchod-Nilsson, director of Emory’s Institute for Developing Nations, who has been instrumental in the ongoing discussions.

The Emory professors are interested in studying transnational communities created by migration in the southeastern U.S., she said. Last year, the former Mexican president agreed that Centro Fox would collaborate with Emory to research migration, to expand the Global Health Institute’s field partner sites in Mexico and to host academic exchanges at Centro Fox, which Ranchod-Nilsson described as a “state-of-the-art” facility on Fox’s family ranch.

On May 10, Fox was honored for his outstanding leadership with Goizueta Business School’s Global Innovation Award. He also received The Halle Institute’s Head of State Award for his pioneering contributions to democracy.

Fox’s great-grandparents were German immigrants to the U.S. and his grandfather later moved to Mexico.
“President Fox never loses sight of the fact that immigration involves real human beings,” said Ranchod-Nilsson. “He knows that immigration is a complex issue that involves national security and labor markets. But he never forgets that there are real people trying to improve their lives in the midst of broader debates.”