US Minister at the University 23. Apr. 2024

Diego Morales, who has made it his mission in life to give young people as many opportunities as possible, came to the University of Debrecen with his wife, Sidonia Nicolae, who is Hungary's Honorary Consul in Indiana, and Béla Kocsy, an agricultural and environmental diplomat from Washington, D.C. Indiana's first foreign minister of Latin American descent arrived in the country  from Guatemala as a legal immigrant at the age of 14. He studied as a scholarship holder  at Indiana University and Purdue University and later at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. He served in the United States Army before entering politics. Since November 2022, he has worked as the 63rd elected Secretary of State of Indiana.

The American delegation was received by Rector Zoltán Szilvássy and Endre Harsányi, Vice Rector for Sector Development, responsible for the development of agricultural and food science. During the meeting, Diego Morales offered his personal intervention in the development of partnerships between the University of Debrecen and Indiana State's higher education institutions, and called for the launch of academic collaborations and student mobility programmes. He also added that as a result of Béla Kocsy1s work, Hungary is becoming increasingly widely known in Indiana for its higher education potential.

Presenting the university's research and development strategies, Rector Zoltán Szilvássy stressed that the institution has not only faculties covering different disciplines, but also sectoral cabinets based on strategic objectives and accredited clusters, in line with the four-helix innovation structure. Leading foreign companies that have recently settled in Debrecen cooperate with the institution in a number of areas, and these partnerships have made the University of Debrecen the only Hungarian higher education institution to become a member of prestigious international networks. 

Several opportunities for scientific cooperation were also discussed, including in the fields of agricultural, medical and pharmaceutical sciences, and their interface in the development of functional foods. In order to establish concrete contacts, Diego Morales invited UD leaders to visit Indiana and its leading universities, with which he is also promoting student exchange programmes. The outstanding potential of mobility for Debrecen agricultural students was also emphasised by Vice Rector Endre Harsányi, who said that Purdue University is ranked among the top five agricultural universities in the world.
As part of the university programme, the American guests also met with students at the Faculty of Agriculture, Food Science and Environmental Management. The Foreign Minister shared his life story with students in the Bachelor of Agricultural Engineering and Precision Agricultural Engineering programmes, as well as with students in vocational colleges and PhDs, in order to encourage more young people to seize opportunities by sharing his experiences.

Press Centre – TH