U.S.-India partnership draws Dept. of Education official to campus

Eduardo Ochoa, assistant secretary for postsecondary education, will meet with students and present a speech at the College of William & Mary on March 29, 4 p.m., at the School of Education. The speech will be offered in the Holly Room, and is free and open to the public.

Ochoa, who was named to the post by President Barack Obama on Feb. 23, 2010 and confirmed by the United States Senate four months later, will speak on “Strengthening the position of the U.S. as a destination for international students and scholars.”

Ochoa’s visit here is tied to the College’s participation in the United States-India partnership, funded by the U.S. Department of Education for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education.

Last spring, William & Mary was one of 10 colleges and universities chosen for a new pilot program on educational partnerships between the United States and India. In fall 2010, Ochoa was part of a delegation that included William & Mary Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs Kate Slevin and college representatives from across the country who traveled to India for meetings with representatives from the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Education, the Indian Ministry of Education, and the Fulbright Commission. The delegation also made site visits to prestigious academic institutions in Bangalore, Mumbai, and New Delhi.

In addition, the College’s delegation met independently with the leaders of three institutions chosen by William & Mary faculty: The National Law School of India at India University, the nation’s top-rated law school; St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, and St. Stephen’s College in New Delhi, India’s oldest college.

An outgrowth of that trip was the establishment of a pair of two-week, one-credit courses that began on Sunday, March 20, and are being taught by acclaimed international professors Karen Gabriel of St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, and S. Japhet of the National Law School of India University. This is envisioned as a first step in what eventually will become a regular exchange program between William & Mary students and faculty and their counterparts from several Indian colleges and universities.

Ochoa will meet with the students enrolled in the classes being taught by Gabriel and Japhet.

Gabriel’s course is entitled “Gender, Sexuality and Nation in Contemporary Mainstream Bombay Cinema.” Japhet, who also directs the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy at the National Law School of India University, is teaching “Law, Equality and Social Exclusion in Contemporary India.”

In his post, Ochoa serves as the Secretary of Education's chief advisor on higher-education issues and administers more than 60 programs, totaling nearly $3 billion annually, that are designed to provide financial assistance to eligible students enrolled in postsecondary institutions.

Prior to joining the Department, Ochoa served for seven years as the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Sonoma State University in California.