Former Ambassador Named New Dean Of UF’s International Center
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida is poised to take national leadership in the explosion of commerce with rapidly developing Latin America, said Dennis Jett, the former U.S. ambassador to Peru who today was named dean of the University of Florida’s International Center.
After 28 years with the U.S. Foreign Service in embassies in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, Jett comes to UF as director in mid-August. He currently is a diplomat in residence and senior adviser on Africa at the Carter Center in Atlanta.
UF’s International Center promotes the studies of international students in the United States and American students abroad and the international exchange of research and scholarship.
“By the year 2010, we will have more trade with Latin America than we have with Asia and Europe combined,” Jett said. “I think Florida as a state and UF as an institution are well-positioned to take advantage of that growth.”
Commerce with Latin America has expanded two to three times faster than any other part of the world and will grow even more when a free trade zone, agreed upon at the Summit of the Americas in Miami, goes into effect throughout the Americas by 2005, he said.
An estimated one in five jobs in the United States is dependent upon international trade, and that figure is probably even higher for Florida, he said.
Although opportunities for UF’s International Center to serve as a resource exist worldwide, they may be greatest in Latin America because of the region’s proximity to Florida and the phenomenal increase in trade between the U.S. and Latin America, Jett said.
He added that attention should also be given to other regions, such as Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East since they are all important in their own right academically and economically.
“We are very fortunate to have hired Ambassador Jett as dean of the International Center,” said David Colburn, UF’s interim provost. “He brings a wealth of experience to this position as former ambassador to Peru and Mozambique, and his experiences fit extraordinarily well with our international academic strengths in Latin American and African studies.”
As ambassador to Peru for three years, Jett managed 800 employees and economic development, counter-narcotics and democracy support programs totaling more than $200 million.
From 1993 to 1996 he served as ambassador to Mozambique, where he directed one of the largest aid programs in Africa and helped to bring about a successful conclusion of the UN’s third largest peacekeeping operation, the country’s first democratic elections and economic reform. Before that, he directed U.S. policy toward Africa for the first six months of the Clinton administration as special assistant to the President and senior director for African affairs with the National Security Council.
Jett, 54, worked in Miami for a year in the mid 80s as project director of the International Center of Florida.
As director of UF’s International Center, Jett said he would like to see more opportunities abroad for students to study and faculty to take sabbaticals. “I know education is expensive and many times study abroad might be precluded by cost, but if we can bring the cost down, we may be able to reduce or eliminate that as an obstacle,” he said.
Establishing contacts with the private sector is another priority Jett identified. “UF has a tremendous community of scholars who can help business as they go abroad and look for more new markets and ways to sell their products,” he said.
Cathy Keen, email@example.com, (352) 392-0186