It is the role of International Affairs to promote, integrate and support KU’s international and global initiatives, as well as to identify and pursue new opportunities for the university in the global higher education space. As we welcome in a new year, I am pleased to report that KU’s rich international presence continues to expand and deepen.
Upon the November 2017 release of the Institute of International Education’s annual Open Doors Report, KU was recognized for achieving a 28.5% undergraduate participation rate in study abroad, earning the university a ranking of 18th in the nation among public doctoral research universities. This accomplishment was hard-earned and represents the impact of a multilateral strategic approach to education abroad at KU. From engaging faculty leadership in the construction of educational opportunities abroad that map fully to KU’s major curricula, to securing and leveraging scholarship opportunities to ensure affordability and access to all students, the Office of Study Abroad has earned KU national recognition for its efforts.
2018 is certain to bring many exciting opportunities. In March, we will be celebrating 60 years of partnership between KU and the University of Costa Rica (UCR), the longest standing university partnership in the Western Hemisphere. Provost Neeli Bendapudi and I will be leading a research delegation to San Jose as part of the commemorative events, and we will be accompanied by the KU Chamber Choir, which will perform with the UCR Choir.
KU has also expanded its international recruitment efforts, partnering with Graduate Studies and a growing number of graduate programs across the university to connect personally with newly admitted international graduate students; hiring a full-time KU representative in India to counsel prospective students directly; expanding its recruitment travel and efforts across Latin America, East Asia, the Middle East and South East Asia, as well as with two-year institutions based within the U.S.; and successfully winning competitively awarded external short-term program opportunities that bring students and professionals from around the world to KU for English, academic and professional development through the Applied English Center and academic units across campus.
Just as we seek to expand and internationally diversify the KU student presence on our campuses, we are working hard to create a strong, supportive and inclusive community for them. Over 200 KU staff members have participated in a new Building Intercultural Skills Workshop series developed by International Affairs, a program that has now been adapted and extended to KU student employees as well. We are also transforming the campus transition for new international graduate students by creating a 4-week pre-academic program that has been adapted from the Applied English Center’s long-standing Fulbright Pre-Academic Program. Through this collaboration with Graduate Studies, the KU Schools, the Center for Teaching Excellence, International Student Services, KU Housing and Dining, student participants will not only become oriented to KU and move through the procedures fundamental to enrollment, but will have a new curriculum designed to promote linguistic and academic success in their KU graduate programs. Similarly, the International Student Services Orientation Team has been collaborating with KU’s offices of First-Year Experience and the Undergraduate Advising Center to transform the arrival experience for all new students and more fully bring international students into the KU community during their orientation week.
We are also working hard to recognize our international students for their profound contributions to our university community. A newly launched program called Leader Quest has already identified 61 international graduate and undergraduate students on campus who are engaged in significant leadership roles. From volunteering for orientation to serving on student government and on the leadership teams of student organizations, these students are bringing their languages, cultures, perspectives and passions to every part of our lives at KU.
Together, these efforts and many more I have not mentioned, are keeping KU at the forefront among those universities fully engaged in campus internationalization. In our efforts to connect KU with and actively participate in an ever-changing world, we must shift paradigms. We are a local, regional and national resource as a university to be sure, but we are rapidly becoming a global resource. I look forward to another year of collaboration and invite you to continue to engage us, to challenge us, and to task us with the important work of helping you pursue your international vision for KU. With your partnership, we will continue to transform KU and the world.
Charles A. S. Bankart
Associate Vice Provost for International Programs