In prior blogs, I described some of the experiences of international students at our university and more about our international partners, and here I would like to talk more about why international programs are essential to our students and to SDSU’s future.
If there were any doubts, today’s global health crises, political upheavals and interconnected economy make it clear that a quality education is one with a global focus and international opportunities.
At San Diego State, our goals and aspirations for international programs are articulated in our strategic plan, “Building on Excellence.” They build upon foundations created by President Emeritus Stephen Weber and Provost Emeritus Nancy Marlin, who recognized the strategic advantage of our location at the gateway to Latin America and the Pacific Rim, as well as the fundamental role that international efforts play in the success of our educational and research programs.
The international initiatives in “Building on Excellence” have three facets. First, reflecting our belief that we must prepare students for professional and civic responsibilities in a global future, we have set an ambitious goal that 30 percent of our graduating students have international experiences – 2,100 students studied abroad last year. We already rank in the top 25 in the nation, and reaching our ambitious goal will place us in the top 10. More important, our students grow intellectually and personally from these experiences.
Second, we are focusing our research on international challenges. A broad range of areas, including climate change, economic prosperity, national security and public health, must be addressed from a global perspective. Our researchers work with colleagues around the world to solve society’s pressing problems.
Third, we are recruiting additional international students, who now constitute 6 percent of our undergraduate population. These students bring perspectives and knowledge that broaden the education of all our students and help build the bridges of friendship that tie nations together.
These international efforts are already gathering philanthropic support. Alumni Keith Behner and Cathy Stiefel recently created a $2.5 million endowment to support our international programs with Brazil, a nation with the world’s seventh-largest economy. This funding will support student exchanges, joint faculty research and strengthened relations between our two nations — advancing all three of our international initiatives. Alumni Jack McGrory and Terry Atkinson – both members of The Campanile Foundation Board – are among those supporting study-abroad scholarships for students who need financial support. Chinyeh Hostler and her late husband, Ambassador Charles W. Hostler, have made significant contributions to our international programs and to the Charles W. Hostler Institute on World Affairs.
In our 117- year history, SDSU has continually evolved with the times. Today, carrying out our educational, research and service missions requires us to take an international perspective. This perspective, in turn, will convey benefits closer to home for our region, state and nation and further our goal to become a top-50 public research university.