BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo President John B. Simpson
will lead a UB delegation that will travel to Havana, Cuba, to
attend ceremonies marking the fourth graduation of the Master of
Humanities (MAH) Program in Caribbean Cultural Studies jointly
operated by UB and the University of Havana.
The program in Caribbean cultural studies is the only joint
graduate program ever established between a university in the
United States and a Cuban university. Of the seven academic
programs offered by American universities in Cuba today by such
schools as Harvard University and American University, two are
operated by UB -- the MAH program and a semester-abroad program for
During the visit from June 3-7, Simpson and UH Rector
Rubén Zardoya Loureda will sign a new agreement for
scholarly exchange and collaboration between the two
Also that week, faculty from both universities will present the
second Caribbean Cultural Studies Symposium at which papers on
Caribbean culture will be presented in French, Spanish and English
-- the languages of the Caribbean. Simpson will make opening
remarks at the symposium. He also will attend a thesis presentation
by the graduating students and a presentation by leading UH
scientists on their current research in the natural sciences and
The graduation ceremony on June 6 also will mark the fifth
anniversary of the establishment of the MAH program, which is
designed for American and Cuban students who are fully bilingual in
Spanish and English. This year also is the 10th anniversary of UB's
academic programs in Cuba in which 268 students have participated
since the university launched its first summer abroad program there
Simpson said that UB's "unique and evolving partnership with the
University of Havana is an example of a new and innovative
interdisciplinary approach to research and teaching, and an
exciting and sustainable model for international cooperation in
He added: "As UB implements the ambitious vision of UB 2020, and
UH sets out to celebrate its 280th anniversary under the banner of
"A new university for a new world," I have the strong sense that
our institutions share a vision of what the university of the
future can look like."
Stephen C. Dunnett, Ph.D., UB vice provost for international
education, noted, "In the recent period, no other U.S. university
has had such an extensive and enduring presence in Cuba as UB.
"In light of the transition now underway in Cuba, it is a
particularly propitious time for our president to visit the country
in order to reaffirm our longstanding relationship to the
University of Havana and our joint program in Caribbean
In addition to Dunnett, Simpson will be accompanied on the trip
by his wife, Katherine G. Simpson; Jose Buscaglia, Ph.D., founder
and director of the collaborative programs; and members of the MAH
Program faculty from UB. They are Jorge Guitart, Ph.D., professor
of Romance Languages and Literatures, Shaun Irlam, Ph.D., professor
and chair of the Department of Comparative Literature, and David E.
Johnson, associate professor, Department of Comparative
Buscaglia describes the Masters of Humanities (MAH) Program in
Caribbean Cultural Studies as one in which participants have the
opportunity to study the Caribbean on its own terms.
"They gain first-hand knowledge of the complex cultures and
traditions of the region through on-site investigations and direct
participation in the processes that shape everyday life," he
explains. "The program offers them the opportunity to spend up to
three semesters studying and living in the Caribbean, starting with
an initial first semester of studies in Cuba."
One of this year's MAH graduates is Reynier
Perez-Hernández, a Cuban national, and five are Americans of
Cuban descent: Kyle James Mittlefehldt, Sugey C. Palomares, Amanda
M. Phelps, Meghan Dorothea Hern-Steed and Melissa Ventura.
Graduation speakers will include Perez-Hernández and Jose
Antonio Baujín, dean of the UH Faculty of Arts and
Upon their arrival in Havana, the UB delegation will attend a
dinner with UH Vice Rector Cristina Díaz, Dean José
Antonio Baujín and Rogelio Rodríguez Coronel,
Margarita Mateo Palmer and Yolanda Woods Pujols, UH professors who
teach in the MAH program and are adjunct professors at UB.
During the visit the delegation will take a walking tour of Old
Havana and spend time at Ernest Hemingway's Cuban home, El
Vigía, in San Francisco de Paula, now a museum dedicated to
It also will visit the town of Viñales, Pinar del Rio
Province, and attend the workshop "Casa taller Pedro Pablo Oliva"
as guests of the artist Pedro Pablo Oliva, one of the masters of
the first generation of artists produced by the Cuban
UB will host a banquet at Havana's Hotel Sevilla in honor of the
graduating MAH students and in celebration of the 10th anniversary
of UB programs in Cuba.
Simpson will have an opportunity to visit the Convento de Santa
Clara, where UB students and program faculty reside during the
academic semester, and pay a courtesy call on the director of the
National Center for Conservation, Restoration and Museum
The UB-UH MAH Program in Caribbean Cultural Studies is the only
joint graduate program ever established between a U.S. and a Cuban
university. It so far has graduated 28 students, and 13 more have
been accepted for the Fall 2007 semester.
Another 223 students participated in UB's Summer Abroad Program
in Cuba from 1997 until it was shut down in 2004 by a White House
prohibition against academic travel to Cuba for periods of less
than 10 weeks, which eliminated more than 300 programs offered
there by U.S. universities.
UB replaced the summer program with an undergraduate semester
abroad program in Spanish language, Cuban and Caribbean culture.
Designed as an undergraduate counterpart to the MAH Program in
Caribbean Cultural Studies, it has had 13 participants to date and
five more are scheduled to participate in the fall semester.
In the fall of 2006, UB began to offer its Ph.D. students a fall
semester abroad program in Cuba. They conduct research and take
courses offered through the MAH program. One doctoral student
completed the program last year and two more have been accepted for
the fall semester.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the
State University of New York. UB's more than 27,000 students pursue
their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate,
graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the
University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American