President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. traveled to Washington D.C. this week to accept the Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization on behalf of Stony Brook University. The award from NAFSA: Association of International Educators recognizes outstanding accomplishments in international education.
On Tuesday, Nov. 13, Stanley sat on a panel with presidents from three other Simon Award-winning colleges and universities to discuss study abroad programs, international students and more.
“I think college is about educating students, about expanding their horizons,” Stanley said when asked why it’s important for U.S. colleges and universities to act as champions of internationalization. “I think their ability to occupy this internationalized, global environment depends very much on their understanding of culture.”
The panelists went on to discuss some of the lessons they learned that other educators could benefit from.
Babson College President, Kerry Healey, talked about measures her school has taken to prevent international students from self-segregating. “We don’t have an orientation for international students, we don’t segregate them out,” she said. “We actually want all of our students to begin understanding that they’re all global citizens and that they’re all the same right from the beginning.”
Stanley highlighted the importance of being strategic when designing study abroad programs on a tight budget, particularly programs involving research. “What are you interested in and what are the outcomes you want to see from this engagement?” he asked. “Because like [with] anything else there’s always limited resources.”
Texas Tech University President, Lawrence Schovanec, agreed with Stanley. “You must be very intentional in the partners that you collaborate with to make sure that you have a plan that’s meaningful and that you can deliver what you say you’re going to do.”
The panel also took several questions from the audience. One woman asked the panelists to share some specific challenges their schools faced in regards to immigration.
Harper College President, Kenneth Ender, said his school has struggled to address issues related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which gives undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as young children protected status to live, work and attend school here. When the Trump administration rescinded the program last year, it left DACA recipients at Ender’s school feeling vulnerable.
“How [do we] support students that are with us and living day to day around the question of ‘how long am I going to be here?’ and ‘am I safe to be identified on this campus?’” he said.
Stanley touched on two big-picture problems affecting international education at Stony Brook. “One is the uncertainty about what is happening next,” he said. “We know there is going to be restrictions potentially on students that are coming down on issues related to security. And the second, I think broader thing is, as was talked about, are we a welcoming environment?”
He noted that as international student enrollment in the U.S. has started to decline, it has become more difficult to spread the message that Stony Brook is accepting of students from all backgrounds.
The Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization is named after the late Illinois lawmaker who was “a lifelong advocate for international education and exchange,” according to the NAFSA website.
“[Senator Paul Simon] was an inspirational leader and as I think about some of the issues we have now today, we could use more people of his integrity and skill and knowledge and wisdom,” Stanley said. “The country misses him.”