By Graig Graziosi
Finalists for a new associate provost position shared their visions for Youngstown State University’s future at open forums last week.
Carrie Wojenski of Sacred Heart University and Nathan Myers of Ashland University — finalists for associate provost for international and global initiatives at Youngstown State University — participated in faculty forums last Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
The new associate provost will lead the Center for International Studies and Programs, focusing particularly on the recruitment and retention of international students.
Both candidates voiced the need for the CISP to have enough staff in place to serve incoming international students and ensure their experience is positive.
Wojenski, currently the executive director of global affairs at Sacred Heart University, argued that internationalization was an inevitable reality for the higher education industry.
She evidenced her point by highlighting trends in higher education administration — such as the increase in global focused administration jobs and a retooling of curricula to include an international competency component — and said YSU was already moving toward internationalization.
“It looks like [YSU’s administration and faculty] are enthusiastic and poised to enter the new reality of internationalization,” Wojenski said. “Internationalization is imperative.”
She went on to argue that institutional support for international students — mentoring, language proficiency, integration issues, etc. — should continue throughout the entirety of an international student’s time at YSU.
When asked whether opportunities and funding specifically for minority students hoping to study abroad existed, Wojenski pointed out a number of organizations that focus specifically on underrepresented student demographics.
“DiversityAbroad.com and the [department of education] has a new website dedicated to [study abroad opportunities for under represented student populations] that are specifically targeting diversity,” she said. “Some focus on racial diversity, some focus on mobility diversity … so more so than I’ve seen in the past, there is funding out there for diversity study abroad experiences.”
Wojenski traveled to Samoa for an undergraduate study abroad trip and went on to work in her college’s study abroad office. She has been involved directly with students seeking to study abroad in some capacity since her undergraduate studies.
Myers was appointed the executive director of international programs at Ashland University in 2011, but first experienced study abroad from an administrative standpoint 11 years ago. A pair of students wanted to study abroad and asked him — at the time a first year professor — to help facilitate their trip.
“Being a bit naive I said, ‘Absolutely, it won’t be a problem.’ Famous last words. It was a very big problem,” Myers said.
From that point on, Myers worked towards making study abroad experiences possible for students.
Myers suggested potentially adding a program called “Ambassadors to the CISP”, wherein national students who choose to work with international students would earn money for an account set aside specifically to help fund their own study abroad experiences. He claimed the program was successful at Ashland University and helped foster student cultural exchanges both at home and abroad.
When asked how he would help increase international student enrollment, Myers suggested that — alongside the current outreach to countries that regularly send large amounts of students abroad — YSU focus on lesser visited countries to try to corner the market.
“Brazil and Indonesia are both going to be very important in the next 10 to 15 years,” Myers said. “At the risk of sounding crazy — and it’s too early to start engaging, but it’s one to have your eye on — [we should recruit from] Iran. The second the United States opens an embassy in Iran … I think there’s going to be a huge push from that country.”
Robert Eckhart, a third finalist, visited the campus on Jan. 29.