News and Announcements



  • April 12   Business News Daily article "Behind the Research: Understanding Cultural Barriers to International Negotiation"
  • March 30   UC Irvine Paul Merage School of Business faculty and MBA students collaborate with peers at the University of Havana: MBA residential helps build Cuban entrepreneurial infrastructure for international trade (press release)
  • March 19-26   MBA International residential courses in Cuba, Singapore, Thailand, German, and Hungary
  • February 24   CGL hosts a presentation by the Hong Kong SAR Commissioner to the United States promoting trade
  • February 15-16   In Havana, A workshop for Cuban professionals on international negotiation (English) (Espanol)
  • February 5   UCI Paul Merage School of Business Professor Releases U.S-China Barometer: Analysis Examines U.S.-China Commercial Relationship (press release) (research ppt file)
  • February 1   UCI Long US-China Institute Distinguished Lecture by James Fallows
  • February 1   Lunar New Year Festival at UCI




Achieving the Impossible: Merage School MBAs Visit Cuba

FEMBA students from the Merage School take a break during the recent International Residential in Cuba, where they exchanged ideas and learned firsthand about Cuban healthcare delivery, real estate and tourism.

They said it couldn't be done. But after three years of negotiations, two trust building missions, and countless hours navigating a maze of requirements and approvals, 29 students and three professors from UC Irvine's Paul Merage School of Business arrived on the newly shifting soil of Cuba in March of this year, the first California MBA student group ever to visit the reclusive island nation.


FEMBA students from the Merage School take a break during the recent International Residential in Cuba,

where they exchanged ideas and learned firsthand about Cuban healthcare delivery, real estate and tourism.

Those involved insist it was traditional teamwork – and not the work of a single visionary – that made the implausible trip possible. The roller coaster ride of planning and logistics spanned several organizations, even reaching the Dean's office. "Dean Andy Policano was our champion," says William Hernández Requejo, lecturer at the Merage School and the coordinator of the program. "The dean was instrumental in getting a contract for this trip in two weeks versus the year it would normally have taken."

FEMBA students from The Paul Merage School of Business

enjoy a social exchange with a University of Havana faculty

member at the recent International Residential in Cuba.

Part of the Merage School's global curriculum, the residential was led by Kerry Vandell, Dean's Professor of Finance and director of the Center for Real Estate, and John Graham, professor emeritus, Marketing and International Business. Hosted and developed in cooperation with the University of Havana, the residential included visits to Havana commercial organizations and lectures by Cuban professors. Most importantly, students met one-on-one with their Cuban peers in healthcare, real estate and tourism.

"Cuba is undergoing tremendous transformation, and it's only by going to a place that you get its graphic reality," says Hernández Requejo. That reality proved eye opening for everyone. "We were one of the first educational groups to focus on economic issues relating to the privatization of the housing market, urban redevelopment initiatives and infrastructure and tourism initiatives," says Vandell. "The opportunity for our health professionals to meet with some of the most visible physicians in the country was also a major plus."

The initiative is aimed at understanding Cuba's emerging economic role, but Graham says there's much more to be gained. "We need to pay better attention to our Latin American neighbors with respect to trade," he says. Countries like Haiti and Cuba can benefit from that attention, because as Graham says, "Commerce can cause peace."

Students who participate in the Merage School's international residentials say the experiences are transformational. But the trip to Cuba, with its dual markets and wary new sense of possibility, was unlike any other. "What we saw was that there are many different Cubas," says Joshua Felice (FTMBA '14). Yet amidst the dualities and ambiguities, one thing became clear to students and faculty, says Hernández Requejo: "The Cuban people love Americans."

Which means the future for the initiative looks bright. In fact, the Merage School is in exclusive negotiations to develop additional meetings and exchanges, as early as this summer. Stay tuned.