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Salinas to Speak at Graduation

By Jeremy Hylton
Contributing Editor

The "education president" will be the Institute's next commencement speaker. No, not soon-to-be-former President Bush, but President Carlos Salinas de Gortari of Mexico.

Though Salinas has been widely praised for economic and social reforms in Mexico, Sergio Covarrubias G, a Mexican citizen, thinks one of Salinas's most important reforms has come in the field of education. Covarrubias credits Salinas with revitalizing a fellowship program that provides low-interest loans for Mexican students studying in Mexico and abroad. "There have been a lot of students coming to study in the States," he said. "[Salinas] is taking care of education and people are willing to go back and repay our country for what it did for them."

The Institute announced this morning that Salinas, a Harvard University-educated economist in the third year of his six-year term, will speak at commencement ceremonies on May 28.

"As a world leader, and as president of our great neighboring nation to the south, his experiences and views on issues that will be of critical concern to the generation of professionals just beginning their careers are most suitable for this occasion," said MIT President Charles M. Vest.

It is likely that Salinas's speech will not focus on education, but on his efforts to reform the Mexican government and liberalize and modernize Mexico's economy. He has played a key role in negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement linking Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

Covarrubias, who may graduate in May, said, "What he has done for the country has been good. ... He made some very tough decisions."

The 44-year-old Salinas began both his educational and political careers in the late Sixties. He studied at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and became a militant member of the youth movement of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has ruled Mexico for over 100 years.

Salinas's career as a public servant began in 1974 in the Mexican Secretariat of Finance. He spent five years in the Secretariat in various positions, before becoming General Director of Economic and Social Policy at the Programming and Budget Secretariat. He became Secretary of that office in 1982.

In 1972, Salinas received a master's degree in public administration at Harvard. Two years later, he received a second master's degree in political economy and government. He received a PhD from Harvard in 1978.