The award, named for the late Senator Paul Simon, recognizes the university’s significant strides in providing a global education to its students, tackling global challenges through research and working with diverse communities at home and abroad.
Rutgers and the other 2014 Simon award winners – which include Ohio State, North Carolina State and Columbus State universities – were recently recognized by NAFSA: the Association of International Educators at a ceremony in Washington.
Rutgers' strides in its global engagement have come in a relatively short time – less than three years since the university established the Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA). The GAIA centers develop universitywide international initiatives and services, initiate collaborative projects and strategic partnerships around the world and expand student opportunities for international study and research.
Rutgers Today recently sat down with Joanna Regulska, who was appointed Rutgers’ vice president for international and global affairs in 2011, to learn more about the university’s efforts to offer global opportunities for Rutgers students, faculty and staff.
What are some of the innovative ways Rutgers provides an international education for its students?
The GAIA centers recently awarded grants across each campus and Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences to seven departments and programs. The funding encourages faculty to incorporate an international perspective into their courses, create new programs and prepare our students for global competence. For example, the Department of Childhood Studies in Camden is developing a doctoral student exchange program with Linköping University in Sweden; the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences will use its grant to develop a master’s degree program partnership with the U.S. Peace Corps, which will integrate degree work with overseas service.
The Peace Corps is synonymous with helping young Americans understand other cultures. Tell us about some of Rutgers’ other flourishing partnerships.
Rutgers is one of only 27 universities worldwide to maintain a formal relationship with the United Nations Department of Public Information – more than 900 Rutgers students have engaged with the UN since 2009. Our recent partnerships with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Brazil Fulbright Commission will offer opportunities to engage with visitors here on campus for students and faculty in Indian and global health studies, respectively. Additionally, an estimated 1,000 international scholars visited our campuses and shared their diverse backgrounds and expertise during the 2012-2013 academic year.Rutgers welcomes increasing numbers of international students. There has been a 61 percent increase in undergraduate international student enrollment and a 13 percent increase in graduate international student enrollment during the past three academic years – resulting in the largest population of international students in university history. What effect has their presence had on your office’s initiatives?
The Office of Enrollment Management and many graduate programs have done a terrific job of recruiting well-qualified international students. And as a former international student, I know firsthand how important it is to support this segment of our student population. The university is expanding existing support services and launching new efforts for our diverse student body, including online peer advising, airport pick-up, more diverse food options and increased cross-cultural programming. We have also convened a committee to explore ways to further enhance the Rutgers experience for international students.
What else is on the horizon for Rutgers’ global and international engagement?
We’re developing our own strategic plan to support the universitywide strategic plan through international and global engagement. We will continue to provide opportunities through popular programs, including our Faculty and Staff Ambassadors Program and global health biennial theme. We have partnered with the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad initiative to revamp our program and enable more Rutgers students to study abroad. This summer, students can have a global experience in their backyard through the United Nations Study Program taking place at Rutgers and UN Headquarters in New York City. We’ll further internationalize our community through expanded funding for faculty research and internationalization of the curriculum, and we’ll continue to expand services for Rutgers’ international community. Rutgers’ Committee on Institutional Cooperation membership is yet another great opportunity for us to collaborate and provide even more international experiences for our students, faculty and staff. There is a lot in the works and I’m really excited about the possibilities ahead.
Congratulations on the Simon award. How significant is this honor?
The Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization is a great recognition of the efforts of Rutgers faculty, students and staff to internationalize the university throughout its campuses. Internationalization is not just about sending students to study abroad or welcoming international students. It’s about the university’s commitment to total global and international engagement, such as establishing innovative international partnerships and encouraging a global perspective in curriculum and teaching. This global and international perspective across the university is a critical part of educating involved citizens and effective leaders for a dynamic world and building excellence of faculty, key components of the university’s new strategic plan.
– Amber E. Hopkins-Jenkins