Harding University American Studies Institute to host Panama Canal executive Ilya R. Espino de Marotta

Pioneering leader to reflect on the challenges, history of canal expansion Nov. 28

SEARCY, Ark. (Nov. 14, 2023) — The Harding University American Studies Institute will welcome Ilya R. Espino de Marotta, deputy administrator of the Panama Canal, as part of its distinguished lecture series at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28. The event will be held in the Benson Auditorium, located at 201 S. Blakeney in Searcy, Ark., 72143. 

Espino de Marotta started with the Panama Canal Authority in 1985 and made history when she was named the organization’s first female executive vice president of engineering in 2012. Her talk will focus on the challenging, 10-year project to expand the canal, which doubled the waterway’s traffic capacity when completed in 2016. In addition to her reflections on helping the Canal Authority meet the demands of 21st century global trade, Espino de Marotta will weave her family’s personal history into an engaging discussion of the vision, dedication and leadership needed to see the monumental expansion to completion. 

“During Ilya Espino de Marotta’s trailblazing career, the Panama Canal has only grown in importance as a vital conduit of global commerce,” said Dr. Mike Williams, president of Harding University. “Her insights, both as a leader and engineer, are crucial to understanding the forces that have shaped the modern canal and our increasingly connected world. We’re honored to welcome her to campus and to have the opportunity to learn from her expertise.”

She has received national recognition including being named “Outstanding Woman of the Year” by the Panamanian Association of Business Executives in 2014 and recognized among the “50 most powerful women in Central America” by Forbes Mexico in 2020, highlighting her success and lifelong commitment to the field of engineering.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering from Texas A&M and a master’s degree in economic engineering from the Old Saint Mary University in Panama City, Panama.

Click here to access her headshot.

About Harding University

Harding University is a private Christian, liberal arts university located in Searcy, Arkansas. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and celebrating its centennial year, it is the largest private university in the state. Harding’s student body represents students from across the U.S. and more than 50 nations and territories. The University offers more than 110 undergraduate majors; 14 preprofessional programs; more than 40 graduate and professional programs; as well as numerous study abroad opportunities including locations in Australasia, Peru, Europe, Greece, Italy and Zambia. For more information, visit Harding.edu.


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