New dean works to improve global programs at U

The new position will improve international teaching, research and engagement.

by Cati Vanden Breul

The University is trying to improve international programs at home and abroad to meet its goal of becoming one of the top three public research institutions in the world.

The University hired Jim Perry, former head of the department of fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology, to oversee the process as interim associate vice president and dean of international programs, two new positions. He began Aug. 1.

“To be in the top three, it’s critical to have a focus as a global institution,” Perry said.

The new dean expects to expand international opportunities and promote global dimensions of teaching, research and engagement across the University, in line with University realignment recommendations.

He will coordinate efforts among departments in the Office of International Programs, said Deb Cran, chief of staff for Robert Jones, senior vice president for system administration.

Recommendations include encouraging scholarly work among colleges and departments on international issues, funding research partnerships among departments here and at an institution abroad, and increasing fellowships and scholarships, Perry said.

The title of dean was added to the position to make it easier for Perry to work with colleges across the University, he said.

“Deans run colleges. As vice president, I wouldn’t participate in deans’ meetings as a peer with the mission of advancing common goals,” Perry said.

Kay Thomas, International Student and Scholar Services director, said making international scholarship a goal of University realignment will help the University rise in the rankings.

“The support for international research is a very important one,” Thomas said. “It fits in nicely with the desire to diversify the campus and get more international students.”

She said future partnerships with universities overseas will build on the quality of education at the University and create an exciting work environment.

Perry said he also hopes to meet the University’s goal of getting 50 percent of students to study, serve as an intern or work abroad before they graduate.

About 25 percent of University students now participate in some type of international program before they graduate, said Al Balkcum, Learning Abroad Center director.

“It is a lofty goal, no doubt, but we are well on our way,” Balkcum said.

The University pledged an additional $100,000 in study-abroad scholarships this year, he said.

Getting professors to support studying abroad is a good way to increase the number of students who participate in international programs, Balkcum said.

By supporting international research, the University fosters a campus that encourages students to study abroad, he said.

The University will begin the search to permanently fill Perry’s interim position during the 2006-2007 academic year, Cran said. Perry said he is not sure if he will apply to keep the position.