Mexico’s Monterrey Institute of Technology is making a push for global prominence, outlining a strategy to hire 100 elite scholars from first-world institutions in more than a dozen academic fields.
The five-year plan is predicated on hopes for substantial new philanthropic support at the private 30-campus operation and animated by a long-term desire to draw greater academic talent into the developing world.
Its initial eight hires for the $100 million Faculty of Excellence initiative include experts in nanotechnology, ethical capitalism, entrepreneurialism and urban design, mostly from the U.S.
“What we’re focusing on,” said Juan Pablo Murra, rector for higher education at Tec, “is attracting talented students and talented faculty and doing high-quality research that helps solve the challenges that we have in Mexico and in the world.”
Tec is already one of the top-ranked universities in Latin America, with about 2,000 full-time academics and 6,000 adjuncts in 20 cities across Mexico. It has about 60,000 undergraduates and 8,000 graduate students.
One of Tec’s first Faculty of Excellence recruits is Raj Sisodia, professor of global business at Babson College who is now serving as professor of conscious enterprise at Tec. Sisodia, a native of India, is the creator—along with John Mackey, a co-founder of the Whole Foods Market grocery chain—of an endeavor known as conscious capitalism, which aims to help corporate leaders understand that their operations will run better if they treat their employees better.
He saw great potential for the initiative at Tec, which has 500,000 alumni and 500 trustees, many of whom are business leaders committed to the conscious capitalism ideals. About 100 other Tec professors have said that they are willing to take part, with plans that include creating a conscious business minor, he said.
Others who have joined the institution include Marc Madou of the University of California, Irvine, as professor of nanoengineering at Tec, and Cipriano Santos, a private sector expert in applying mathematics to business challenges.
Most of the other initial hires are taking visiting professor positions.
From the outside, the overall initiative looks ambitious, said one expert, Gerardo Blanco, a native of Mexico who is now associate professor of higher education at Boston College. Chief challenges to the Faculty of Excellence venture, Blanco said, will include sustaining the funding levels necessary to keep world-class scholars and overcoming Mexico’s reputation for violence connected to organized crime and drug cartels.
Because of those hurdles, Blanco said, many new recruits might leave after only a short time at Tec, or they might just use Tec’s offer to extract higher pay from their current institution. “When you attract somebody who is very high-profile,” he said, “you need to keep them for a while to get some return on investment.”
Sisodia, however, was giving every indication that Tec was a long-term partner. He is in the middle of a two-year leave of absence from Babson and will face a decision at the end whether to stay for his full five-year offer at Tec, which requires him to spend only about 10 weeks a year in Mexico.
“The odds are that I will be staying,” Sisodia said. “Their commitment to being at the cutting edge of business education, and integrating societal and planetary perspectives into that education, is far stronger than I had seen anywhere else.”