USD Opens International Location in Madrid

This month, The University of San Diego (USD) will establish its first permanent international studies facility in Madrid, Spain. USD is a leader in providing international education experiences for students through study abroad programs in more than 30 countries.

Denise Dimon, USD’s associate provost for international affairs, said the university is signing a lease in mid-March for a 10,000-square-foot space in the heart of Madrid, near Retiro Park, the Prado Museum and tree-lined streets with sidewalk cafes, shops and more.

The opening of the USD Madrid Center once again raises USD’s international profile, which has been nationally ranked among the top three universities for undergraduate study abroad participation percentage in each of the last five years via the Institute of International Education’s Open Door Data.

The Madrid Center falls in line with the strategic initiative goal set forth by USD President Mary E. Lyons, PhD, to expand USD’s global reach.

“This is a natural progression. This is about expanding our footprint,” said Dimon, a veteran USD Economics professor and director of the International Center and Ahlers Center for International Business, about the new facility. “There is something very special about Madrid. The foundation of USD being in Spain is quite important. It’s about the Spanish culture, the people, the language and the city itself — it’s a popular place. There’s so much about it that makes sense.”

Equally exciting is how the space will be utilized. Dimon said the facility would have “lots of active learning spaces,” with multiple classrooms, mobile learning technology capabilities, meeting and study spaces and a library. Dimon envisions the USD Madrid Center being a valuable resource for everyone at the university.

“One of the greatest strengths we have at our university is our international programs,” she said. “It’s a real strength. It’s part of our DNA. And now, in Madrid, we’ll have a facility that ties us more into its communities.”

Having a presence in Madrid puts USD students in close contact with USD history. About 25 miles northeast of the city is the Universidad de Alcalá, where USD founder Mother Rosalie Clifton Hill was inspired by the architecture and designed then-developing San Diego College for Women with a similar look. Mother Hill’s decision to feature 16th century Spanish Renaissance architecture throughout the campus remains intact, 65 years after its founding in 1949.

Students have studied abroad in Madrid for more than a decade with courses in business and multiple College of Arts and Sciences subjects. Those students with advanced Spanish language skills can take classes at Madrid’s Universidad Pontificia Comillas, a USD partnership that Dimon said will continue for interested USD students. All students live in a home stay, thus deepening their connection to Spain’s culture and people.

“I think this can put USD on the map,” International Studies Abroad Director Kira Espiritu said. “We feel this shows that USD is not just talking about international education, we’re walking. If you can be somewhere and immerse yourself in it and have something that’s available to the whole campus, for different purposes, it’s going to make everyone more globally aware. When students return from Madrid they’ll know they’ve had a true international experience.”

Dimon said the USD Madrid Center is scheduled to open for summer programs offered by the School of Business Administration and School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES). Undergraduate students get their first exposure to the center this fall.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. In February 2016, USD launched the public phase of Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represents the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university and builds upon the strong philanthropic momentum achieved by USD in recent years. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.