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International Programs and Studies Committee

The committee met four times during the course of the year: on September 19, 2008; November 7, 2008; February 21, 2009; and March 30, 2009.

The main items of business at the first meeting on September 19, 2008, were to elect a chair and co-chair, and to set a schedule and agenda for the upcoming year. Ten members (Abraham, Belgum, Birkholz, Deussner, Hale, Hamir, Hansen, Lujan, Serice and Straubhaar) attended the meeting. The committee elected Professor Patricia Hansen (law) as chair, and Professor Joseph Straubhaar (radio-television-film) as co-chair. After discussing the committee’s report from the prior year, the committee determined that its primary focus should be on ways to strengthen international programs across the University, including encouraging participation, ensuring diversity, addressing imbalances, identifying “best practices,” and increasing funding opportunities and links with organizations outside the University. The committee agreed that it was essential to learn more about the new international programs initiatives taking place under the leadership of Vice Provost Givens, and to invite her to discuss this at the next meeting. In addition, it agreed to discuss for ways to work with the new International Opportunities group that had recently been established by the Student Government. There was also interest in learning more about the “global cultures flag” of the new School of Undergraduate Studies.

At the second meeting on November 7, 2008, the committee met with Vice Provost Givens to discuss international programs initiatives taking place in the Provost’s Cross-College Council on International Study (P3CIS). In addition to Dr. Givens, eight other members attended the meeting (Belgum, Birkholz, Deussner, Gerber, Hamir, Hansen, Lujan, and Serice). Dr. Givens discussed efforts to promote synergies in international programs across the University. P3CIS is working to identify ways to achieve greater visibility and broader participation for international programs across the University. However, funding has proven a significant obstacle to these efforts. Committee members stressed the importance of looking at the ways in which peer institutions outside the University, as well as colleges within the University, were addressing these challenges. It was agreed that members of the committee would be given access to materials gathered by P3CIS, and invited to future P3CIS meetings. The committee also agreed to invite a representative from the University Development Office to meet with it to discuss the role of international programs in the University’s new capital campaign.

At the third meeting, on February 20, 2009, the committee voted to name Professor Ken Hale (fine arts) as chair elect for the upcoming year. The committee also met with Associate Vice President David Onion and Executive Director Nick Ferrara of the University Development Office. Five committee members (Birkholz, Gerber, Hale, Hansen, and Lujan) attended the meeting. Mr. Onion and Mr. Ferrara discussed the progress of the current capital campaign, which was launched in September 2008 and is set to end in 2014. They explained that, following the recommendations in the report of the Commission of 125, fundraising priorities and activities are generally established by individual units within the University. The primary role of the development office is to provide centralized support to these efforts. When development office representatives meet with donors, they attempt to identify the donor’s specific interests and to match the donor with a specific University college or department. Individual colleges and departments have each published their own brochures setting out their fundraising priorities for the current capital campaign. The committee noted that there is no separate brochure targeting international programs generally. This omission seemed odd, given that the capital campaign focuses on helping UT “change the world.” Moreover, a number of donors might have a special interest in funding cross-disciplinary efforts in this area. Finally, smaller departments often find it quite difficult to pursue international programs, or to fund these efforts, on their own. It was agreed that it would be useful for the development office to know more about the different kinds of international programs that could benefit from centralized fundraising, as well as individuals or organizations that might have a specific interest in funding these areas. The committee agreed to provide the development office with examples of the types of international programs available across campus that might be of interest to donors with international interests.

At the fourth and final meeting, on March 30, 2009, the committee met to discuss how to follow-up on the information gathered at its prior meetings. Seven members (Aghaie, Belgum, Birkholz, Hamir, Hale, Hansen, and Straubhaar) were in attendance. The committee discussed fundraising efforts for international programs at other universities. For example, Stanford University has special reunion gatherings for alumnae that participated in a study abroad program while they were students. Many alumnae consider these programs to be among their most important educational experiences. The committee also discussed the difficulties faced by faculty members trying to create international programs within specific departments. For example, faculty often find it difficult to secure departmental support for international programs that attract significant interest from students outside the department. The committee developed a list of five major categories of international programs available at this and other universities: (1) Sending UT faculty to speak, teach and/or conduct research abroad; (2) Bringing foreign scholars (and leading international authorities outside the academy) to speak, teach and/or conduct research at UT; (3) Sending UT students to study and/or conduct research abroad; (4) Bringing foreign students to study and/or conduct research at UT; and (5) Using technology (such as videoconferencing) to bring together scholars, students, and from different countries). The committee agreed to send this list, along with an illustrative list of programs in each category, to the development office. The committee also agreed that it was important to continue to look for ways to increase support for international programs, and to promote synergies in international programs available across campus in conjunction with the P3CIS.

As a result of its work over the course of this year, the committee concluded that individual departments face significant constraints in creating, developing, and supporting international programs on their own. This is in part because of the significant financial and administrative burdens associated with the programs, but also because international programs often generate benefits that cut across departmental lines. We recommend that next year’s committee continue to look at these issues, keeping in mind that any resolution would probably need to be submitted to the Faculty Council fairly early in the academic year.
Patricia Isela Hansen, chair