The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA’s) Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations of Seton Hall University (SHU) have agreed to pursue cooperation that will help strengthen their respective institutions.
FSI and SHU signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on October 24 to formalize their cooperation agreement in a ceremony held at the SHU campus in New Jersey, United States of America (USA).
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. signed on behalf of FSI while Dr. A. Gabriel Esteban, the first Filipino American President of SHU, and Whitehead School Dean Ambassador John Menzies, signed for SHU.
Consul General Mario De Leon, Jr. of the Philippine Consulate General in New York also signed as witness.
Under the MOU, FSI and the SHU will exchange publications and information regarding courses in international relations and diplomacy; establish contacts between their respective libraries; and develop projects in areas of mutual interest, particularly in research projects and the organization of conferences, seminars, and workshops in the field of diplomacy and global concerns.
In his remarks at the signing ceremony, Ambassador Menzies said he looked forward to implementing the areas of cooperation under the MOU. He also underscored the close relations that SHU was having with the Philippines in general, as a result of the presidency of Dr. Esteban, an alumnus of the University of the Philippines (UP). He mentioned SHU’s other cooperation agreements with UP and the College of St. Benilde-De La Salle University.
In his response, Ambassador Cuisia, emphasized the very important role the FSI plays in training the DFA Home Office and Foreign Service personnel, in serving as the center for the development and professionalization of the career Foreign Service corps, and in conducting researches relating to international issues and foreign policies.
“A strong FSI will be good for the DFA, the Philippine Foreign Service and, ultimately, for our country. That is why FSI is constantly looking for partners that will help increase its capability for research, strategic thinking, training and development. FSI also believes that it has valuable experience and knowledge to share with its partners. FSI is a witness to the evolution of Philippine diplomacy and can provide an Asian perspective to important international issues,” Ambassador Cuisia remarked.
Founded in 1856, SHU is one of the major Catholic universities in the US with a population of nearly 10,000 students across eight schools and over 150 degree programs. The Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, established in 1997, has the distinction of being the first school of international relations to be established after the Cold War. It has hosted prominent world leaders and heads of state, such as former Prime Minister Tony Blair of UK, UN Secretaries-Generaland Ban Ki-moon, and Philippine President Fidel Ramos.
After the signing ceremony, Ambassador Cuisia delivered a lecture to about 200 people, composed mostly of Whitehead School students. In his presentation entitled “The Philippines: Charting the Course to Growth and Security,” he gave the audience a brief profile of the Philippines before dwelling on the encouraging economic developments in the country in recent years. He discussed the Aquino Administration’s Social Contract with the Filipino People and the government’s five priority areas for economic development and job generation.
Ambassador Cuisia also talked about the recently signed Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). He then gave an overview of the Philippine-US bilateral relations, including their political, security and trade aspects. At the end of his lecture, Ambassador Cuisia made a pitch for “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” tourism campaign.
After his presentation, Ambassador Cuisia answered some questions raised by the audience.
Before the formal event started, SHU President Esteban and Ambassador Menzies hosted a luncheon in honor of Ambassador Cuisia and his wife, Vicky. The 40 guests in attendance included SHU Provost, Monsignor John Radano (former Papal Chaplain), Filipino-American Deputy Mayor Zal Velez of West Orange, New Jersey, Consul Zaldy Patron, officers of the UP Alumni Association of New Jersey, and other SHU faculty members, officials and students.