International Education an everyday mission at Troy University

Posted: Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Troy University will celebrate International Education Week with several events Nov. 16-20, but for "Alabama's International University," international education is a part of the daily mission.

The University's Troy Campus is home to nearly 800 international students representing 75 countries. Each day, more than 80 different languages can be heard spoken on campus.

"At Troy University, we want to ensure that our students are globally aware, prepared and competitive," said Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Chancellor. "All students benefit from exposure to classmates from other cultures, traditions and faiths."

Internationalization is not something that has occurred overnight. At TROY, the process has followed what Dr. Hawkins' refers to as a "three-legged stool" approach, which includes recruiting international students to TROY, providing study abroad opportunities for students and enhancing opportunities for the University's faculty to gain international teaching and research experience.

Added to the mix is the establishment of international partnerships that the University has enjoyed through the years. Dr. Hawkins and Dr. Earl Ingram, Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, recently returned from a 10-day trip to Vietnam and Cambodia during which the Chancellor conferred nearly 200 TROY degrees to students studying at partner institutions in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Nearly 600 students in Vietnam currently study with TROY and an additional 69 Vietnamese students are enrolled on the Troy Campus.

"The partnerships that we have in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City were established beginning in 2002," Dr. Hawkins said. "We held our first graduation ceremony in Hanoi in February 2008, and each year, we have graduated an outstanding group of students.

"Given the global nature of higher education, our U.S. universities are more reliant on partnerships with international universities than at any time in our history," he said. "The university of the future will be built on these partnerships."

According to Open Doors, the Institute of International Education, more than 819,600 international students studied in the U.S. during the 2012/2013 academic year, a record high. China sent the most students to the U.S. during that year with nearly 235,600.

Likewise, Chinese students represent the largest international population at TROY with 301 students enrolled. Those numbers are bolstered through the 1-2-1 Sino-American Dual Degree program, which TROY initiated in 2000 with partnerships with five Chinese universities. In 2004, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities joined the partnership with TROY and the China Center for International Education Exchange and used the 1-2-1 program as a model for other AASCU-member schools.

The program enables students from partner institutions to spend their first year studying at their home institution before coming to TROY for their next two years. They then return to their home institution in China for their final year and upon graduation receive degrees from both their home institution and TROY.

Initiatives, partnerships and relationships are what stir internationalization at Troy University and it is that philosophy that truly sets TROY apart.

"We embrace the mission to prepare our students to be globally competitive, and I don't believe you can be globally competitive unless you are globally aware," Dr. Hawkins said. "When we understand those unlike ourselves, we can appreciate them. That is the world in which we live, and we are dedicated to preparing students to go out into the world and make a difference."