I hope that everyone had a wonderful first day of classes yesterday.
I really enjoyed walking around campus and seeing the fresh faces of our students, so excited to be here and ready to learn.
Of course, our campus is not the only place where our students are learning. We have students engaging in education abroad programs in 24 countries this fall. I'm very proud of our continued success in education abroad, which is part of the overall efforts to internationalize our campus. One of the great challenges in higher education today involves preparing students to be leaders in an increasingly interconnected world.
I like to say that people make the place, and I'm very happy to recognize the dedicated individuals who are leading these internationalization efforts. Our Education Abroad director Dr. Anthony Ogden and our Associate Provost Susan Carvalho have been invaluable in creating global learning communities on our campus and providing student support for those interested in pursuing education abroad.
Dr. Ogden has refocused the key question for outgoing students, from “where do you want to go?” to “what are you studying, and how can international experience help you reach your academic goals?” We have seen the positive impacts of this refocusing in various ways. It allows us to engage faculty in ways that we previously could not. It also allows us to promote education abroad programs and opportunities to students as a central part of their major.
Several programs now offer a "global track," which includes approved coursework that integrates well into the academic majors. This also links education abroad with our core goals of reducing time-to-degree and increasing retention among our undergraduates. This refocus has also transitioned students’ emphasis from academic tourism to intellectual engagement abroad, as well as how education abroad can help them attain their professional goals.
These efforts have doubled our student participation numbers since 2006, and we expect them to continue to increase due to the linkage between education abroad and academic departments.
People really do make the place. And I'm grateful for that these committed individuals are helping our students be successful not only on our campus, but all over the world.