KU News Release

March 11, 2011
Contact: Jack Martin, University Communications, 785-864-7100

Chancellor to meet with Colombian president

More Information

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little will pay an official visit to Colombian president and KU graduate Juan Manuel Santos and meet with several prominent KU graduates during a three-day trip to the South American country.

Santos, who graduated from KU in 1973 with degrees in economics and business, was elected president of the Republic of Colombia in June. Before that, he was defense minister for three years.

“Colombia is a vibrant country that has emerged from challenging times to become a growing, democratic nation,” said Gray-Little. “I plan to talk with President Santos and our other prominent alumni about how we can expand the university’s relationship with Colombia and the region as a whole.”

“I will also invite the president to speak at KU at his earliest convenience, as our community would benefit from hearing about his career and his vision for Colombia,” she said.

The chancellor, who will be in Bogota from March 17 to 19, also plans to meet with other distinguished KU graduates, including Juan Mario Acevedo, president of Correcol Colombianos de Seguros S.A.; J. Guimer Dominguez, president of Occidental Petroleum of Columbia; and Rafael Santos Calderon, cousin of the president and co-publisher of the family’s newspaper, El Tiempo.

Correcol is the nation’s largest insurance brokerage company representing more than 60 of the 100 largest brokerage firms in the world. Acevedo earned bachelor’s degrees in economics and business administration from KU in 1979.

Dominguez earned a master’s degree in petroleum engineering in 1975 and a doctorate in chemical engineering in 1977 from KU. He has led his company in Colombia, a subsidiary of the Occidental Petroleum Corp., since 1998. Occidental owns a 1.4 million-acre position in the Hugoton field spanning southwest Kansas and the Oklahoma panhandle.

Santos’ great uncle was president from 1938 to 1942 and the former vice president, Francisco Santos, is his cousin. He also studied at KU, attending classes from 1979 to 1981. The Santos family founded El Tiempo, Colombia’s most influential newspaper, where President Santos worked as an editor before serving as foreign trade and treasury minister in previous administrations.

Colombia, in the northwestern corner of South America, has a population of more than 45 million people.

All expenses for the chancellor’s trip will be paid with private funds.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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