University of Vermont

University Communications

President Sullivan Attends Summit of the Americas Meeting in Panama City

Tom Sullivan, UVM president
Tom Sullivan, UVM president (Photo: Sally McCay)

Last week’s seventh Summit of the Americas meeting in Panama City generated even more international news coverage than usual, marking the first time in more than five decades the presidents of both the United States and Cuba attended the biannual meeting of chiefs of state from countries in North, Central and South America.

UVM president Tom Sullivan had a close-up view of the momentous developments, participating with 50 other university presidents from the U.S. in a higher education meeting on research and economic development that ran concurrently with the summit.

Sullivan also was invited to attend -- with a few other university presidents -- speeches by the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela and several other Latin American presidents and to the session where President Obama gave a much-reported-on speech.

The discussion topic for the academic presidents in their concurrent session was “Prosperity and education: the challenge of cooperation in the Americas.” 

“Given our international focus in recruitment and research, it was very valuable to exchange information and insights with other U.S. and Latin and South American universities who share that interest and with higher education and political leaders in the Americas, where UVM is active,” Sullivan said. 

Since its inception, the Summit of the Americas process has encouraged the participation of non-governmental groups. At previous summits, heads of state and government have recognized the contributions made by these groups and helped them formulate and implement development policies and programs.

The meeting of university presidents was conceived by Juan Carlos Varela, president of the Republic of Panama. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was a featured speaker at the academic presidents’ concurrent session. Specific areas of focus for the higher education meeting included:

  • Academic mobility.
  • Technology and innovation. Leveraging technology and innovation to improve university education and research in the region.
  • Sustainable economic development. University-based research for enterprise and sustainable economic development. 

The event was organized jointly by the Ministry of Education of Panama, the Technological University of Panama, Georgia Institute of Technology, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Organization of American States.