Ellie Hogrebe, Staff Writer

The University of Missouri–St. Louis is currently looking for someone to fill the position of executive director for the International Students Program. This opening is available following the retirement of Joel Glassman, the former director. Glassman was recently awarded the World Trade Center’s Global Ambassador Award, which recognizes outstanding efforts to promote St. Louis on an international scale, setting high standards for whoever will fill his place.

The university is hoping to find someone who will bring dynamic ideas to the position and new strategies for refining and improving UMSL’s process for recruiting international students and helping them succeed personally, academically and professionally.

This position in the International Students Program is an essential role in the process of getting students from across the world to consider UMSL for their collegiate education. The director must work to foster connections between the university and people from other countries who may attend college in the United States. Whoever takes on this position must continually strive to improve the international student recruitment process. He or she must search for ways to positively enhance the experience for the people involved. The director should also focus on implementing practices that help students from foreign countries attending UMSL feel safe, welcome and supported.

Finding someone who can effectively and dynamically fill this position is critical because having a strong presence of international students at UMSL is crucial to nurturing a diverse community. Leaders at the university want to promote an environment where the viewpoints of people from various cultures and backgrounds are developed and celebrated.

There are numerous benefits to having a robust population of international students at a university. They contribute fresh perspectives in the classroom that may challenge ideas or practices that domestic students take for granted or have never critically considered. Their experiences may allow them to provide new and progressive solutions to problems posed in classroom settings or broader problems the university is working to resolve. Domestic students’ interaction with people from different countries encourages them to study abroad themselves and discover the opportunities that education in a different country can offer.

On Oct. 23 the search committee for the university hosted a candidate to explain her plans for the position and what she would concentrate on building up in the program as director. The candidate expressed her desire to expand UMSL’s relationships with a wider range of countries that have students who aspire to attend college in the United States.

She also put forward ideas for strengthening outreach strategies that encourage international students to consider UMSL as a desirable choice for their education abroad. Suggestions include specifically designating student and faculty ambassadors who would be available to answer questions from students or their family members. Promoting the interaction of international alumni from UMSL with young people from their countries who are contemplating a college education in America will fortify the university’s relationship with those potential students.

Hung-Gay Fung, an endowed professor of Chinese Studies at UMSL who works closely with the International Students Program to coordinate visits of guest speakers and organize various activities, stresses the importance of this position at the school as it “involves a lot of recruiting of international students.”

Fung emphasizes that the International Students Program “is very important in terms of outreach” to people from other countries who are pondering whether to attend UMSL for their higher education. The director of this organization must be prepared to actively take on these responsibilities.

After reviewing the candidates, the university will make a decision regarding who will best fit this role. Whoever is chosen will be influential as a representative of UMSL to the global community.