From the President: UI on the Global Stage
In a world that is increasingly interconnected, the University of Idaho is emerging as a leader on the global stage. The teaching, learning, research, discovery, outreach and engagement at which UI excels open doors of opportunity across our state, region and nation. More and more, those doors are open to the wider world — our excellence as an institution demands that we look beyond our own borders to engage a world of ideas.
Faculty members take leadership roles in international engagement, bringing Vandal expertise to address complex problems far beyond Idaho. In this issue, you’ll read some of those stories: the College of Law professor analyzing water management in Australia; the UI researcher studying catfish eyes from the Amazon; the inroads we continue to make in our relationship with China. UI scholars are making discoveries, forging relationships and contributing to solutions that can find applications at home and abroad.
Embodying international excellence also means opening our doors to scholars from abroad. UI annually plays host to hundreds of visiting scholars. They gain access to the expertise of UI faculty members, to resources and information unavailable in some countries, and to a network of colleagues and collaborative possibilities.
Undergraduate and graduate students from abroad also access those opportunities, with the chance to participate in the active student life of a diverse and dynamic campus. Students from outside the United States are increasingly choosing UI, with their enrollment jumping 66 percent in the last five years. In 2014-15, more than 900 students came to UI from China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India and 74 other countries. Those numbers signify UI’s role as a premier destination for higher education. Behind every number, though, is an opening toward a brighter future — for a student, for our university and for communities near and far.
I’ve had the good fortune to meet a few of those students through participation in the “Friendship Families” program, where community members connect with international students to build relationships. Mary Beth and I have met students from Sweden, Burkina Faso and India, coming together to learn about each other’s countries over shared meals, attendance at UI events such as the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, and more. Our international students are bright, motivated young people who enrich our campus and provide all students a way to discover new worlds.
UI also holds open the door for Idaho students to experience the cultures, perspectives and intellectual resources of the world. Our International Programs Office facilitates education abroad through study, internships, service-learning and research through 400 institutions in 70 countries across the globe. As recently as 2014, 12 percent of Vandal undergraduates had studied abroad during their UI careers. Competitive scholarships are also a path for international experience. In 2014-15, UI had two recipients of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program award study in China, and in fall 2015, three more Gilman scholars will venture out to Peru and to Senegal.
These opportunities combine to create an educational environment that prepares students for a 21st century that is ever more interconnected — collaboratively and competitively. They’re gaining marketable skills — not just in what they learn, but in how they are able to learn from others. They are the future of UI’s global presence, a commitment to worldwide excellence that grows stronger every year.