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President Berkey Gets Keys to Panama City

The strength and dedication of WPI alumni in Panama City, Panama, were showcased Nov. 13 as the vice mayor of the District of Panama presented President Berkey with the keys to the city "as a meritorious and noteworthy recognition for his significant contributions for the enrichment and development of mathematics."

Vice Mayor Ivan Arrocha declared Dr. Berkey a distinguished citizen of the Republic of Panama before awarding him the honor, granted on behalf of Mayor Juan Carlos Navarro.

The keys to the city recognition was enacted by law to recognize distinguished citizens of Panama, as well as international officials who have made contributions to Panamanian society. More than 30 Panamanians, mostly engineers, have graduated from WPI since 1980. This strong group of alumni now occupies various leadership positions in the private sector, at non-profits, and at corporations headquartered in the Republic of Panama.

Dr. Berkey was lauded for his innovative leadership at WPI and for his interest in furthering relationships with the city.

During his trip, Dr. Berkey visited the Panama Canal Authority to explore MQP/IQP opportunities, the National Secretary of Science and Technology(SENACYT) for exchange programs ideas, the Panama Foundation for Social Development (FUDESPA) to share math teaching expertise, and met with WPI board members of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama for a briefing on the economy and Panama (of the 15 sectors that compose the chamber, five have directors who are WPI alumni), in addition to other meetings related to strengthening alumni relations and recruiting in Panama.

Dexter Bailey, vice president for development and alumni relations, Professor Jeanine D. Plummer, director of the Undergraduate Environmental Engineering Program, and Dr. Berkey's wife, Cathy, accompanied him on the trip, including a visit to a prominent local high school, Academia Interamericana de Panamá.

Panama City is an international banking center located near the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, also known as the "crossroads of the world." The city has been important to world commerce since its founding nearly 500 years ago.

December 2, 2008

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