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Deans emphasize importance of studying abroad

Sept. 24, 2003

By Cindy Kittner, reporter

More than 40 international education directors and two former United States ambassadors met for discussion Tuesday in the Bill Daniel Student Center for the Mid-America Universities International conference. The conference concentrated on the role of university deans in international education.

Last December, Baylor ranked No. 2 in the nation for the number of students participating in study abroad opportunities for 2000-2001, according to a Baylor press release. Baylor's goal is for 30 percent of undergraduates to participate in a study abroad program, the press release stated.

'Baylor has a long-standing commitment to share the benefits both from the gospel and the opportunity to be educated with other people,' Dr. David L. Jeffrey, Baylor provost and vice president for academic affairs, said. 'Baylor has built very successfully over the years a strong commitment to the world beyond the boundaries of the country.'

Dr. Joel Glassman, president of MAUI and University of Missouri's director for the center of international studies, said the two-day conference would create dialogue and discuss future plans.

'Imperative XI of Baylor 2012 is in fact international education,' said Dr. William A. Mitchell, Jo Murphy Chair in International Education and director of Baylor's Center for International Education. 'It recognizes that Baylor likes to prepare its graduates to enter a global society.'

Mitchell said Imperative XI's goal is to increase the number of study abroad programs available, students attending them, international students at Baylor and foreign languages taught.

'At the present we are very interested in expanding what we do,' Jeffrey said. 'We want to bring professors from other countries here to Baylor and having exchanges which are profitable for teaching, research and exposing our students to the richness of cultures abroad.'

Following Jeffrey's opening statements, Baylor deans, including Dr. Wallace L. Daniel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Benjamin S. Kelley, dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science; Dr. Judy W. Lott, dean of the Louise Herrington School of Nursing; Dr. Larry Lyon, dean of the Graduate School; and Dr. Terry Maness, dean of the Hankamer School of Business; composed a discussion panel in the Beckham Room of the SUB.

Each dean compared his or her personal abroad experiences and then related how their department incorporates international studies into its curriculum.

'We teach history at a foundational level,' Daniel said. 'Its focus is not how countries are isolated, but how they are connected.'

Daniel said funding the foreign language departments is a main priority as well as hosting lectures and symposiums 'to bring the world to this campus and this campus to the world.'

'I kept seeing students who had never traveled to another country really transform,' said Maness, also a former Baylor in Great Britain co-director. 'That impacted me to see students change.'

Maness said that deans have three roles for international studies, which are to provide leadership in program development, develop and maintain international relationships and host conferences and speakers.

Lott said Baylor's nursing program incorporates international education through mission opportunities.

'Mission is a unique feature at Baylor,' Lott said. 'Nursing is a pretty universal language even though techniques are different.' Baylor's nursing school has a graduate program with a mission focus, and nurses can set up a clinic in countries where resources are scarce, Lott said.

'Engineering students who study abroad are higher on the hiring ladder for corporate jobs,' Kelley said.

Kelley said students are not as likely to study abroad if it does not count for credit toward their major. Therefore, his department has developed a relationship with the Maastricht University, located in the Netherlands, where Baylor students can take two degree-counting courses.

'As far as the dean's role [in international education], I feel the more important part is enthusiasm,' Kelley said.