The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Study Abroad Options to Increase for Underrepresented Majors

3 min read

A newly-reorganized Center for International Education will seek to facilitate study abroad programs that allow more students to work toward their degree requirements overseas, according to Center Director José Sainz.

Previously known as the Office of International Academic Services, the center is not only receiving a new name but is also creating new staff positions, increasing its presence on campus and incorporating an additional $80,000 into its budget, according to Associate Provost John Morello.

Slated to officially transition on March 25, the center has already established both short and long-term goals that are in keeping with elements of President Rick Hurley’s Strategic Plan.

“Hopefully students will benefit from more scholarships, better curriculums abroad and a bigger presence of international students on campus,” Sainz said.

Sainz stepped up as the director of the Office of International Academic Services at the beginning of July 2010, and will continue to oversee the university’s international programs in the new Center.

“It takes [Sainz’s] position and evolves it,” Morello said. “José has been doing an excellent job and we are fully confident.”

One of Sainz’s goals is to create study abroad templates for majors with course requirements that traditionally have not been compatible with overseas semesters. He intends to map out which semesters are best for students of each major to study abroad and what international universities offer courses that will allow them to continue working toward their degrees.

He also intends to engage in international recruitment, hoping to bring more international students to the University of Mary Washington. Currently UMW sees fewer than 30 foreign students come to Fredericksburg annually, according to Sainz, and he would like to see that number increase.

Next week, he will be in Spain giving presentations to inform students there about what UMW offers to its international student population.

Professors could also benefit from the Center for International Education’s expanded role through the creation of faculty exchange programs. In the proposed plan, they would be given the opportunity to teach overseas, while professors from other countries would take on UMW classes, according to Sainz.

While the administration looked at other schools’ models for international programs, Morello emphasized the importance of working with UMW’s current assets.

“We want to take advantage of the strengths of the people we already have,” he said.

Still, there will be some additional hiring. The center will have three new or redefined positions, a study abroad coordinator, a study abroad advisor and a program advisor, according to Morello.

Funding for the new components of the Center for International Education comes from Hurley’s decision last year to set aside $80,000 to create a new position in that office. Instead of using that money as one person’s salary, it was split up to cover a variety of the center’s new needs.

One of the requirements will be to hire a visiting professor to take over a majority of Sainz’s courses.

“As director, I still have a teaching commitment to the Modern Foreign Language Department,” he said.

But his duties to the Center for International Education will, and already do, dominate much of his time. A visiting professor will be hired with optional contract renewal available for three years.