CFIS putting the world at UDs feet
As administrator of UDs pathway to the world, CFIS arranges for students and faculty to study and conduct international research and curriculum development abroad.
Its also an advocate for international activities, events and awareness at UD and is involved in bringing government, educational institutions and the private sector together to focus on international opportunities.
The center carries out its mission through two main components-- study abroad and international projects, through which CFIS obtains and administers funding for international education and training programs, institutional agreements, travel and research awards, Salzburg Seminar fellowships, the Fulbright Program and the faculty/staff language program.
In 2002, UDs Office of International Programs and Special Sessions (IPSS) reorganized, making international programs a separate entity with Special Sessions becoming part of the Division of Professional and Continuing Studies. The Center for International Studies was created, and Lesa Griffiths, professor of animal and food sciences, was named director.
She has been a College of Agriculture and Natural Resources faculty member for 18 years and served on the CFIS advisory board before becoming the centers director. Until then, her association with CFIS came primarily from study-abroad trips beginning in 1999 when she pioneered UDs first trip to New Zealand.
Study-abroad numbers have increased dramatically since 2001, when we sent 923 students abroad. Last January, almost 1,200 students and 80 faculty members went on study-abroad trips. This year, we expect to send almost 1,400 students abroad. We are always looking for new programs in underrepresented academic disciplines and underrepresented parts of the world. For example, we are very excited about the possibility of a new program in Vietnam next year, Griffiths said.
The center also has funding opportunities for faculty, she said. Each year CFIS awards 40 faculty members $500 each to attend international conferences and International Research Awards (IRA) of up to $10,000 are given to faculty to conduct research abroad. The IRA program also provides seed money for substantive research undertakings that will lead to applications for larger, externally funded support.
A recent and very exciting collaboration between CFIS, the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and the Division of Professional and Continuing Studies, with support from USAID, led to the creation of the Sarajevo Graduate School of Business, an MBA program in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Under this project, students enroll in a University of Delaware MBA program that is developed and staffed by UD Lerner College of Business and Economics faculty working with local faculty. The Sarajevo Graduate School of Business held its first class this fall, Griffiths said.
Lisa Chieffo, associate director for student programs and assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures, coordinates 10-12 study abroad programs plus special exchange programs. She oversees organizing pre-departure meetings for faculty and students and coordinates workshops for faculty interested in developing a study-abroad program. She sets the calendar for applications and payments, helps establish policies, organizes events, solves student-related problems and screens programs as they move through the approval process. Its gratifying to know that one has had a role in promoting global and cultural awareness among students, she said.
Project coordinator Bill McNabb has been with the University for 32 years. He came to UD as an instructor in German and was director of overseas studies before IPSS became CFIS.
McNabb said he sees his job as a way to give students the opportunity to grow as individuals. The knowledge gained from study abroad and the countless number of...firsthand experiences enriches our students while at the same time providing them invaluable interpersonal skills and an improved focus on a career. It creates a greater potential for success, a greater broadmindedness and higher level of comfort in the face of human and business-world differences, he said.
McNabb and the other project coordinators work with program faculty directors on all aspects of overseas program planning, including recruiting students, creating budgets, making logistical on-site arrangements, working with accounting on making payments to overseas vendors, responding to student and parent questions or problems that may arise on trips, expediting travel arrangements and responding to concerns and problems that may arise on trips.
Marie Gleason, program coordinator, also works with faculty directors to put together study-abroad programs, but her specialty is destinations within the United Kingdom. She coordinates semester programs in London, selecting, recruiting, interviewing and preparing students to study at UDs London Centre.
Gleason received a masters degree in Spanish peninsular literature from UD and then spent a year in Spain at the University of Granada as an exchange student. When she returned, she worked for UDs English Language Institute as a tutor. She has been with CFIS since 2001, when it became a center. Currently, Gleason is working on a new program in India for Winter Session 2006.
On board to advise and guide department chairs and faculty on short-and long-term program development, budget planning and pre-departure orientation is Diane Henker, CFIS assistant director.
Many of my programs come from faculty in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Henker said. My job also includes a technical side, designing and maintaining our web site and acting as liaison between our computer information technology associate (CITA) and staff.
Henker was a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in the Slovak Republic from 1995-97. She was an assistant in IPSS when it was reorganized.
Because so many study-abroad programs are directed by the foreign languages and literatures faculty, Marion Bernard-Amos acts as special coordinator of their study-abroad programs. As such, she markets the new and existing programs, develops plans for their successful operation, enforces CFIS policies and procedures and manages the evaluation of those programs. A major part of her work is advising students and study-abroad ambassadors and managing the foreign language semester programs in Costa Rica, Italy, France and Spain.
Bernard-Amos came to UD from the Office for Social Responsibility at the Union Institute in Washington, D.C., as a project specialist and coordinator of internships. Before that, she worked as a project manager for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and as a deputy dean in the faculty of social sciences at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. She said her greatest reward is in helping students see the benefits of study in a foreign country and seeing how returnees change their perspectives and become citizens of the world.
He and his graduate assistants identify opportunities for funding and offer assistance on writing proposals, budgets or any other requirements. They also help obtain funding from governmental and nongovernmental sources for faculty members and academic units, offer support services for international academic projects, develop international institutional agreements and support other units. He works with faculty on the Salzburg Seminars and Global Citizenship Faculty Fellows and coordinates CFISs International Travel Awards, International Research Awards and its Discovery Abroad Research Expeditions program.
As staff assistant, Ruthie Toole is at the center of activity in CFIS.
She administers, supervises and manages the daily workflow of the office staff and student workers. Toole also works with faculty and University administrators to identify and resolve study abroad problems.
"The front office is where everything begins and ends," Toole said. "Without us, the center would not run. We are the first to field calls from parents, interested students, faculty and administrators needing information or help," she said.
Receptionist Lorraine Grube greets anyone needing CFISs services, either in person or over the phone. Her job is to make sure everyone gets to communicate with the appropriate person at the center.
Keeping the centers books is the job of Lisa Huber and Mark Heisenbuttel. Huber is the centers financial manager and Heisenbuttel its accountant.
Keeping it all online, is Eric Cantrell, CFISs CITA. Before coming to work for CFIS, Cantrell was a full-time student at UD. Now, he maintains desktop computers and servers and programs the centers database with Henker.
When I first started at the center, the students would fill out paper applications. I teamed up with Diane Henker, and we developed a way for the students to submit their applications to us online, Cantrell said.
One day I'm exploring how to slipstream a Windows CD, the next I'm fiddling with our active directory structure, the next I'm doing some programming work on our Bosnia database. The variety is stimulating, Cantrell said. I've always had the support to explore technology and learn all I can.
Helping them all do their jobs is Steve Amster, administrative coordinator. The glue that binds the office together, Amster works with everyone to ensure smooth program operations by assisting with the submission and planning of new projects, maintaining contracts, grants and the database of expenditures for the Graduate School of Business at the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia. Amster also interacts with faculty and administrators trying to locate and apply for international research funds.
Amster said he considers his job part of a team effort that helps the University and the center fulfill their mission and others to learn about the United States and Americans.
Article by Barbara Garrison
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