University of Iowa

Welcome to the 2016-17 academic year

September 5th, 2016

Dear colleagues,

As we enter another academic year, it’s a good time to ask:  what have we accomplished? where are we going? The short answer is that we are ever more committed to, and engaged in, connecting Iowa with the world and the world with Iowa.

Over the summer, International Programs (IP) has been orienting and advising another incoming class of international undergraduate and graduate students, and has been working with UI students from all backgrounds who want to explore global study opportunities to enhance their education.  With faculty members returning to the classroom to take up teaching and mentoring duties, and the collaborative work of IP’s programs and centers once again getting under way, I continue working with Provost Butler and with leaders around campus to set priorities, establish goals, and face new challenges as we begin the 2016-17 academic year. 

One of my principal responsibilities as associate provost and dean of International Programs is to communicate the value of internationalization in a public, research-intensive institution with global reach and global aspirations. While the UI’s commitment to internationalization is not new, nor is it unique among top-ranked institutions of higher education, it has never been more significant or more infused throughout our missions than it is today. The efforts of faculty and staff throughout the University provide students with access to globally-oriented knowledge and skills. I also want to ensure that the global dimension of UI research and creative work has the greatest possible impact both here in Iowa and around the world. 

During 2015-16, collegiate leaders and key individuals from other units developed an internationalization vision and strategy.  This document will guide our next steps, helping to determine where we invest and what we measure as we look ahead to advance comprehensive internationalization over the next few years. The vision stresses the importance of advancing collegiate efforts (such as increasing study abroad and the development of global curricula), the need to use data to understand and leverage strengths, and the importance of focusing on a strategic set of activities that bring academic distinction to the UI.  The formal linkages and partnerships we have with institutions of higher education around the globe help us to raise the UI’s profile, expand our strengths, and take advantage of the resources that are made available through these connections, both intellectual and financial. Finally, we must develop a strong narrative around internationalization and the UI’s global identity.

This academic year, we will invite a couple of keynote speakers to campus to help anchor and broaden our discussions of internationalization.  The first of these speakers, Ellen Hazelkorn, is policy advisor to the Higher Education Authority (Irish Government).  She is the author, among other publications, of Rankings and the Reshaping of Higher Education. Dr. Hazelkorn will be on campus Nov. 16th and 17th to meet with administrators and faculty, visit classes, and give a public lecture on “Internationalization and the Geopolitics of Higher Education.” Another major speaker will visit campus in the spring semester; so, stay tuned.

The UI has gained significant recognition in the international education arena this past year.  Fifteen students received Fulbright awards, an all-time record for the UI, making us a “top producer.” Students were also recognized with other highly prestigious awards, including most notably our Rhodes Scholar, Jeffrey Ding, one of only 32 in the country.  The India Winterim program, under the leadership of Professor Raj Rajagopal, was awarded the Andrew Heiskell Award by the Institute for International Education.  The award showcases the most innovative and successful models for study abroad each year. Congratulations to Raj on his achievements with the India Winterim, through which the UI sends more students to India every year than any other university in the country.

Together with many partners, including student government and the cities of Iowa City and Coralville, we have devoted increased attention to integrating domestic and international students, and ensuring that our campus is a welcoming community for all students and visiting scholars.  For the first time this fall, all students can make an audio recording of their name in our student records system, helping faculty and staff address them as they wish to be addressed in the classroom and on campus. This academic year, CLAS will award the first “International Student Ambassador Award” to a faculty member who contributes to comprehensive internationalization through his or her teaching, student mentorship, and activities that engage students in our global community, in particular helping to successfully integrate our diverse student population. IP continues to offer the successful certificate program "Building our Global Community," designed to educate UI faculty and staff on cross-cultural issues. And the first-year Success at Iowa course required of all incoming undergraduates now includes a module on diversity and inclusion. 

Thanks to private support, starting in 2016-17 there are increased funding opportunities for faculty to develop collaborative relationships advancing research on a global scale; and we have increased the resources we devote to financial aid for students to study, conduct research, and participate in internships abroad.  21% of UI undergraduates take their education abroad at some point during their time at the UI.  We want to see more students taking advantage of this transformative opportunity in the coming year. Please encourage your students to stop by the Study Abroad Fair on Tuesday, Sept. 13th. 

IP’s eight academic programs and centers continue to provide faculty and students opportunities for multi-disciplinary exploration and scholarly engagement. Dr. Kelly Kadera, IP’s director of academic programs, oversees the centers and programs.  With the help of Ann Knudson, our grants administrator, she will be working with the faculty to increase extramural funding to the programs and centers through innovative, collaborative, and interdisciplinary projects.

Our staff in communications and relations are devoting considerable effort to reach out to students, faculty, alumni, friends, and potential Hawkeyes through multiple media channels including domestic and international social media.  In particular, we have seen significant progress in our international alumni engagement activities, in partnership with the colleges, the UI Foundation, and the Alumni Association. New or re-invigorated IOWA clubs are active in London, Beijing, and Shanghai; and I have seen with my own eyes the enthusiasm of our international alumni and their wish to remain engaged with what is going on here in Iowa City. 

Please take the opportunity to attend one of our WorldCanvass programs, IP’s monthly, live program of internationally-focused conversations featuring top experts from diverse fields.  It will begin its eighth season on September 13 with a new home in the extraordinary Voxman Music Building.  WorldCanvass will also hit the road, with shows in Des Moines and London this year, extending our “live” events further.

Finally, we celebrate Professor Paul Greenough’s contributions to IP this month on the occasion of his retirement.  Paul is one of the founders of IP, and has been a strong voice for internationalization here at the UI, in particular in the areas of South Asia and global health.  We wish him the very best! 

I look forward to working with all of you again this year to advance the global footprint of the University of Iowa.