UI looks to increase diversity, international presence

BY SAM LANE | FEBRUARY 16, 2010 7:30 AM

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A task force report released Monday echoed UI Provost Wallace Loh’s ongoing calls for a university “without borders.”

As universities around the country become increasingly diverse and internationally involved, the university must keep pace, the UI Task Force on Internationalization and Diversity said.

UI senior Michael Appel, who served as a member of the task force, said internationalization is a pressing issue.

“We can only benefit from becoming an international university,” the political-science major said. “I think it’s essential if we want to remain a top institution in the Big Ten and worldwide.”

The task force presented a number of strategies for helping the UI become an international university:

• Revise standards for tenure and promotion at the college and departmental levels to recognize service to the UI that enhances diversity and internationalization. In addition, encourage UI staff to contribute time for work in diversity and internationalization.

• Coordinate undergraduate recruitment and retention efforts among the Center for Diversity and Enrichment, the Admissions Office, and the colleges. Hire or dedicate a director of research to focus on diversity from in the Office of the Vice President for Research, and offer mentoring for second- through fourth-year undergraduates from under-represented groups.

• Train and hire Spanish-speaking people to work in recruitment, retention, and student advising. Under-represented minorities and women should be a special recruitment focus for the 100 new tenure-track faculty lines.

• Create mentoring programs for under-represented ethnic minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, among others.

• Increase the number of courses that introduce domestic diversity and international perspectives.

Train faculty on mentoring undergraduate and graduate students from diverse backgrounds.

Mark Wrighton, the chancellor at Washington University of St. Louis, said many universities have begun looking abroad, and he stressed the importance of internationalization in today’s landscape.

“The University of Iowa is a great, comprehensive university. It’s a great asset to the United States. Yet, students educated there will be working in a bigger world than the United States,” he said.

“Strengthening international partnerships is important to the United States, and I believe the world can be a better place through strengthening ties internationally.”

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