CSU at Todos Santos: Donna Baily

Donna Baily (back row, fourth from left) with colleagues at the CSU Todos Santos Center in May 2015.
Donna Baily (back row, fourth from left) with colleagues at the CSU Todos Santos Center in May 2015.

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Name: Donna Baily

Title/Role at CSU:  My current title is Senior Legal Counsel for the CSU Research Foundation (CSURF).  When I started working on the Todos Santos project (Spring 2013!) I was the Director of Contracting Services at CSU. After 25 years of employment at CSU I “retired” and began working for the Research Foundation. When I left CSU I took much of the Todos Santos project with me. While CSU is responsible for the programming at the center, CSURF, through its Mexican subsidiary corporation, CSURF de Mexico, AC, is responsible for the operations of the center.

When did you visit the CSU Todos Santos Center?

I’ve been to Todos Santos several times starting with an exploratory trip in Spring 2014 and most recently a trip in February 2016 to meet with CSURF AC employees. I’ve watched the center grow from a conversation to an idea on paper to a bricks-and-mortar facility that hosts students and faculty from many different places.

What did you do/work on during your trips to Todos Santos?

My trips to Todos Santos have been focused on the operations of the center:  hiring employees, meeting with accountants and lawyers to set up the business and operations functions of the center and to assure compliance with Mexican law, U.S. law and CSU policy and procedures.

What did you learn at Todos Santos that you can apply to CSU?

Everything about the Todos Santos project has been a learning process for me. I have had to learn to put my preconceived notions about running the facility aside so that I’m open to learning how legal relationships work in Mexico. Thankfully, we have engaged very competent legal counsel in Mexico; the lead Mexican attorney has worked in both the U.S. and in Mexico so he is uniquely able to bridge the gap for me. It’s also important that CSURF is very careful to comply with Mexican law because foreign corporations are under heightened scrutiny in Mexico. The Mexican Government is particularly wary of corporations being used for drug cartel money-laundering purposes. So we are particularly careful to do everything “by the book.”

What would you want people to know about the CSU involvement in Todos Santos?

One of the most difficult things we have had to deal with is people’s perceptions about CSU’s role with MIRA – the Mexican company that has provided us with the gift of the campus. Much has been communicated portraying MIRA as an example of all that is wrong with corporate America. Further development of the Baja peninsula is likely inevitable and is being actively cultivated by the Mexican government. I have personally found MIRA’s representatives to be pleasant and reasonable to work with, generous and supportive of CSU and its activities and goals, and mindful of the balance between their development and their responsibility to the local community.

What did you find most rewarding about your experience in Todos Santos?

For me it has been a truly unique opportunity to learn about the laws and regulations of a foreign country and establishing a campus there. As a CSU graduate and longtime employee, I am very excited to be able to participate in CSU’s international expansion.

What is your favorite thing about the Todos Santos community?

The people – they are so warm and welcoming. They routinely open their homes and businesses to strangers from far away and are willing to share their stories and experiences with us. And they are so incredibly patient with my feeble attempts at Spanish.

If you return to Todos Santos, what would you plan to work on?

I hope to return at least once a year – always to work on perfecting the operations of the Center, the effectiveness of our programs and the interactions with our community there.

About the CSU Todos Santos Center

The Colorado State University Todos Santos Center is the university’s first international location and is core to CSU’s mission of teaching, research, service, and outreach.

The Center provides opportunities for CSU students and Baja California Sur residents to collaborate with local partners and businesses to identify needs, conduct research, and produce impactful outcomes.

CSU’s vision in Todos Santos is to cultivate generations of global citizens and to be a part of creating thriving communities through collaboration, experience, and exchange of knowledge in areas such as agriculture, infectious disease, elementary education, environmental and social sustainability, wildlife ecology, veterinary medicine, and public health.