A collective effort
The Office of International Affairs (OIA), directed by Ron Witczak, oversees all of the major international activities at PSU. They provide support for our international student population as well as our international scholars and faculty. OIA offers opportunities for PSU students to study and intern abroad and for PSU faculty to teach overseas. OIA houses Centers and Institutes, promoting cultural understanding and engagement focused on specific geographic regions. In addition OIA hosts Special Programs for foreign students visiting the U.S.
- curricular integration
- travel abroad opportunities
- increased international presence on campus
- increased engagement with others, both nearby and around the world
- formation of the Internationalization Council
- reporting on campus international initiatives and activities
The Office of International Partnerships was created this past year through internal reallocation within OIA. Joyce Hamilla, its Director, joined PSU this fall. Most recently, after I consulted with faculty, staff and student groups, Margaret Everett, Dean of Graduate Studies and Professor of Sociology, agreed to add the Vice Provost for International Affairs duties to her portfolio.
One of Linda Walton’s suggestions during our van ride to Suzhou was the reinstatement of a full time vice provost for international affairs. This was not a criticism of Margaret Everett’s abilities, but a recognition that for the past two years the vice provost for internationalization has been an add-on to someone’s existing portfolio. Although PSU did have a full time vice provost of international affairs prior to 2012, I chose to eliminate the position in response to faculty concerns that there were too many administrators and the need to make budget reductions. I added the duties to the former vice provost for budget and planning, Kevin Reynolds, and subsequently to Margaret. We do not have the resources to fund a full time vice provost for international affairs. However, like Linda and me, a number of faculty, staff and students have expressed concern that we not lose momentum on our efforts.Our progress is something to celebrate, but we have work ahead. We know that PSU needs to examine existing partnerships; to sunset ones that have never moved past the “let’s be friends” stage and to strengthen those that have potential to grow. We need to establish new partnerships that have the potential to provide PSU faculty and students with rich international experiences and connections. Lastly, we need to be more mindful and strategic in our efforts in recruiting and retaining international students.