Due to security concerns in specific international regions, The University of Texas System today announced that its nine academic and six health institutions will immediately review and potentially suspend university-sponsored programs in foreign countries and territories consistent with current travel warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State, pending a careful and thorough risk assessment by individual campus review committees.
The escalating violence in Mexico caused The University of Texas System to direct its institutions to recall students, faculty and staff participating in university-sponsored programs within seven Mexican states, effective immediately. The recall applies to the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Baja California, and Durango. The recall applies to these states because they include cities and regions that are specifically identified in the U.S. Department of State Travel Warning as areas that have had a recent increase in violence.
"The University of Texas System and its institutions value their close association with Mexico. That said, the safety of University of Texas System students, faculty and staff is of the utmost importance and we feel these actions with regard to study abroad programs and other university-sponsored international activities are prudent given the unfortunate escalation in violence in these regions," UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., said.
For students, faculty and staff involved in mission-critical programs, each University of Texas institution president may make an exception to the recall only after institutional review committees conduct a comprehensive review of the risks and the benefits of allowing personnel to remain in Mexico.
In response to the violence in Mexico, Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, president of The University of Texas-Pan American, issued a memo in early March, prior to the start of Spring Break, to the UTPA community, which stated "Due to the recent violence and unstable situation across the border, only 'essential travel' for UTPA employees and students is permitted. UTPA sponsored classes or trips should be postponed until further notice. Exceptional academic circumstances or other cases need to be approved by the Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs or the appropriate Vice President."
In addition, the UTPA Office of the President is forming an international oversight committee as mandated by the UT System to review programs and requests for travel in areas where the U.S. Department of State has issued travel alerts. The committee will be tasked with reviewing the risks and safety concerns of each case that would require travel into the areas affected by the increased violence.
University of Texas institutions will review and possibly suspend activity in other areas of Mexico and foreign countries and territories consistent with current travel warnings issued by the State Department, pending review of the potential risks and nature of the activity by the institutional review committees. The UT System administration and institutions will continue to closely monitor the security situation in these countries.