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Five Colleges Win Diversity Award [The Badger Herald]

March 12, 2009

UW-Madison fails to make list, looks to increase efforts on campus to gain ranking

By Courtney Stacy, The Badger Herald

Five colleges and universities across the nation were awarded Tuesday for their outstanding efforts to promote internationally friendly campuses — but the University of Wisconsin not being one of them.

The NAFSA Association of International Educators granted the Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization to Boston University, Connecticut College, Pacific Lutheran University, Portland State University and University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

The committee analyzed 50 to 60 outstanding applicants, judging their commitment to internationalization, the extent to which international students are welcomed to the campus and other unique projects developed by the universities before making their decision, said NAFSA Selection Jury Chair Brian Whalen.

“It’s really to highlight those universities who are basically self-selecting to promote themselves and make the rest of the international community and the rest of the higher education community aware of what they are doing,” Whalen said.

Whalen added Boston University has had a long tradition of financial, administrative and faculty support, allowing for the development of internationalization throughout the university’s culture.

“But that takes time and that takes building relationships,” he said. “And really, that’s the message that stands out above all else — building the relationships so that people understand on campus what international organizations are all about and how it benefits students and the learning process.”

According to UW Division of International Studies Director of Communications Masarah Van Eyck, the UW would make a good candidate for the NAFSA award based on its long history of on-campus internationalization efforts.

Although UW has applied in the past, Van Eyck added, the university did not apply for the NAFSA award in 2008.

“We have to demonstrate a clear commitment from top administration, like in a strategic plan,” Van Eyck said. “So that’s something to aim for. I definitely think we’re on our way.”

Van Eyck added UW has a strong reputation for internationalization and has an impressive number of on-campus projects contributing to its global reputation.

UW’s Global Competent Task Force, developed under David Ward, a previous UW chancellor, contributed to the university’s strong reputation for internationalization, Van Eyck said.

Developed in 2006, the program urged faculty to internationalize curriculums and create a more open environment for international students.

UW currently has eight Title VI National Resource Centers that support interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching about every region of the globe, according to Van Eyck. Along with the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Washington-Seattle, UW has the largest number of centers at any college or university in the nation.

In 2008, UW completed Plan 2008, a 10-year initiative to improve diversity on campus.

University officials believe the initiative made some progress, but failed to implement wide-sweeping change. In the future, the university is looking to rely on measures that are less number-based and more effectively integrated into the learning experience at the university.

“At the heart of Wisconsin’s higher education, from the very beginning, it really is about service beyond the boarders of campus or boarders of the state,” Van Eyck said. “So much is changing for graduates — you guys are really walking into an interconnected sphere, whether it is health or the economy or the environment.”

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