May 19, 1998

Education

COSTA RICA PROFESSOR RECALLS KU EXCHANGE PROGRAM

LAWRENCE -- Forty-five years ago, Maria Eugenia Bozzoli came to the University of Kansas as a Costa Rican student on scholarship to study archaeology. This spring, Bozzoli returned to KU's campus to teach as the Hall distinguished visiting professor of anthropology.

In 1958, Bozzoli and her husband, Alvaro Wille, whom she met and married as an undergraduate at KU, were among the guests attending the formal signing of what has become the oldest cultural exchange agreement between a North American and a Latin American university.

KU Chancellor Franklin Murphy and University of Costa Rica Rector Rodrigo Facio invited Costa Rican students enrolled at KU in 1958 to witness the formal signing of an exchange agreement between the two schools, Bozzoli said.

Meeting Facio was especially memorable, Bozzoli recalled. Facio learned Bozzoli's husband was an entomologist specializing in wild tropical bees and offered him a job in research at the University of Costa Rica.

On May 24, KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway and a small group of KU faculty and administrators will go to San Jose, Costa Rica, for the 40th signing of an extension of the cultural exchange.

Academic symposiums are planned at KU in 1999 and at the University of Costa Rica in 2000 to observe the program's success, longevity and future.

Forty years ago, KU was one of several U.S. universities establishing programs to promote cultural exchanges with universities in Latin American countries with a U.S. State Department grant, Anita Herzfeld, KU professor of Latin American studies and linguistics, said.

"KU's is the only one that remains. Our success is due to a number of complex factors," said Herzfeld, who has served as director of KU's exchange program in Costa Rica. She was director of study aboard at KU during the 1970s and early 1980s.

KU's program had active administrative support from Murphy and George Waggoner, who was then dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and from the Kansas Board of Regents, which authorized a student exchange program, Herzfeld said. Costa Rica's political stability also contributed to the program's success.

Bozzoli and Herzfeld will both be in San Jose to attend some of the ceremonies connected with the 40th signing of the agreement. One of those ceremonies includes a reunion of faculty and students from Costa Rica who have studied at KU and a meeting with KU students studying in Costa Rica.

Before this spring, Bozzoli had returned to KU twice -- in 1981 when her daughter Leticia Wille Bozzoli enrolled at KU through the university's exchange program with the University of Costa Rica and again in 1984 when she delivered a lecture on agricultural expansion in Costa Rica for KU's Center of Latin American Studies. In 1981, Bozzoli also taught at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge on a Fulbright fellowship.

Bozzoli remembers thinking of KU and Lawrence as home after spending six years here in the 1950s. Although the campus and Lawrence have changed, she said it "feels as if very little time has lapsed. I feel at home in both Costa Rica and here."

Bozzoli earned bachelor's and master's degrees in archaeology at KU. She completed a doctorate in anthropology at the University of Georgia, Athens, in 1975. Her husband, whose health did not permit him to travel to KU with his wife this year, earned a doctorate in entomology at KU in 1959.

Bozzoli also has two brothers and a sister who are KU alumni. Ricardo Bozzoli has a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and Fernando Bozzoli, a bachelor's in social work. Her sister, Virginia Bozzoli, studied two years at KU's School of Education.

Story by Mary Jane Dunlap, (913) 864-8853

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