CWRU adopts American Council of Education guidance

Sean Hobson, Staff Reporter

A year after president Synder took office in 2007, she introduced a new five year strategic plan titled “Forward Thinking.” One of the goals of this plan involves promoting an inclusive culture of global citizenship. This small bullet point in the forward thinking university plan gave rise to the founding of the office of International Affairs (IA) and the recruitment of David Fleshler, J.D. as the associate provost of International Affairs. One of Fleshler’s first acts as associate provost was to create the “International Planning Committee” (IPC), a group consisting of many notable faculty and staff from around the campus.

“The IPC really consists of the individuals who were on the committee to recruit me. But when I looked at this list of people, I said wait a minute, there needs to be student impute here as well. So I reached out and USG and GSA sponsored an undergraduate student and a graduate student to sit on the committee,” said Fleshler. Fleshler also created a more exhaustive mission statement and strategy plan for the IA office. The IA strategy plan outlines the specific aims of the initial point in the forward thinking university document; it also includes proposed procedures to achieve them in a reasonable timeframe.

Creation of the IPC showed progress towards the IA’s office’s initiatives, yet Fleshler said he still thought it would be wise to seek consultation. “With the creation of the IPC and the mission statement we were doing a lot of things right, but I knew we could do better. So I called around to all of my colleagues across the country for advice, and each of them recommended I talk to the American Council of Education (ACE).” ACE is a non-governmental, higher education association with the mission of providing leadership and accurate information dissemination on key issues related to education.

There is a branch of the ACE called ‘the Internalization Laboratory,’ which focuses on developing a strategy for comprehensive internationalization. “They have over 10 years’ experience with helping different colleagues and universities develop new, internationally minded policies and procedures. And though there is a group of about eight schools in the program this year, CWRU is the most research intensive. So we’ll benefit most from working one on one with the ACE. It’s been a good relationship so far, “ Fleshler explained.

Barbara Hill, director of the ACE laboratory visited the campus in January and gave a presentation. In it she detailed the ACE’s vision and the plan to achieve CWRU’s goals towards internationalization, including a timeline with length spanning far into 2012.

The IPC holds six fluid categories in their university goal towards internationalization: office of international affairs infrastructure, undergraduate education abroad and international experience, international undergraduate student recruitment, retention, and campus life, technology and communications, funding and resources, and partnership and future strategy. A product of these categories was the IPC’s efforts in implementing the new international student orientation this fall.

Fleshler commented, “I admit that some categories are more developed than others for various reasons. Still, because at least of the categories were directly connected to undergraduates the IPC wants to make sure they are taken care of while we work towards are overall institutional goal of internationalization.”

The IPC has many goals, such as exploring collaborations with other international institutions to develop an international scholars program, supporting development of courses on international topics, and promoting enrollment of high quality students from other nations, including developing countries. Additional IA office plans include establishing scholarships for international students, as well as forming a committee to determine international affiliations best fit for CWRU’s vision.

The IA office also hopes to heighten awareness of the many events and activities that have international aspects. “There is a lot of international work going on campus, and not just in research. The problem is that people just don’t know about it.” Flesher stated. He affirmed that it is on the IA office’s agenda to ensure that such achievements receive appropriate attention on campus

The ACE program will help guide the university policies in the areas of education abroad, international experiences, international student recruitment and retention, international research, and funding. Examples of the efforts of the IPC at the advice of the ACE have already been noted, namely the International Student Orientation. Nevertheless, Fleshler remarked that he wants the planning process of the IPC to be transparent and interactive.

To that end, faculty, students and staff are encouraged to provide input by emailing, or by attending the upcoming open forums on October 22 at 12:30 p.m in the Mandel Center for Non-Profit and November 19 in Nord Hall 310. In agreement with the already voiced opinions of student s and faculty, the IA office and IPC believe that having international students on campus benefits the student body as a whole. Fleshler reaffirmed that the IPC prioritized the CWRU student when he described the committee’s first strategy meeting.

“We discussed where the world is going, and where would we like to be in five years. Of course, we have a strong belief that education is no longer an exclusive to region or even national bounds. According to our university and office specific strategy plans, we are seeking to be internationally inclusive. Our participation in the ACE is a demonstration of that, and we hope that our collaborative efforts in the internationalization laboratory will bring both immediate and future benefits to the present and future student body of CWRU.”