Sept. 1-7, 2000
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William Quandt named Vice Provost for International Affairs

By Charlotte Crystal

Stephanie Gross
William B. Quandt

A new high-level post has been created, that of Vice Provost for International Affairs, based upon the top recommendation of the International Activities Planning Commission, one of the four Virginia 2020 committees charged with envisioning the University's third century. William B. Quandt, the Edward R. Stettinius Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs, has been chosen to provide the University-wide leadership the commission believes to be a critical factor in promoting the coordination and expansion of international activities at U.Va.

In a report finalized this spring, the commission identified numerous successful international programs at the University, but many rest on the shoulders of individual faculty members and are not widely known outside their sponsoring departments. This limits opportunities for interdisciplinary participation and the sharing of successful models among disciplines, said Quandt.

"We wanted to create a center point, not centralize international activities, which are occurring all over," said Brantly Womack, chair of the international commission. "Without coordination or encouragement, the activities are occurring in a piecemeal fashion and we're not creating a coherent foreign presence. Worthwhile opportunities are not being pursued. We want to change this."

The commission also recommended the creation of an All-University Advisory Council and the establishment of a "significant" incentive budget, creating a program similar to the one adopted by Duke University five years ago, according to Quandt. Duke was one of five schools in the aspiration group studied by the commission, along with Cornell University, Michigan State University, New York University and the University of Wisconsin.

The commission's goal is not to create a new bureaucracy, but to expand existing programs which have the potential of becoming internationally recognized centers of excellence by removing barriers that inhibit participation, and to launch new initiatives that fit well with U.Va.'s strengths, Quandt said.

Quandt, a former member of the National Security Council and Middle East expert who was actively involved in the Camp David accords under President Jimmy Carter, is serving a two-year appointment as vice provost for international affairs while an international search is conducted for a permanent replacement.

Taken together, the commission's recommendations envision nothing short of a cultural transformation at U.Va., incorporating an awareness of international issues across disciplines and throughout the curriculum.

"What does it mean to make this an international university?" asked Womack. "It means that most students need to see the world as part of their U.Va. experience."

Indeed, that is what characterizes the leading schools in the field, according to the planning commission's report: "'International' becomes normal and universities, such as New York University or Cornell University, accept and encourage their international dimension as part of their basic identity. Moreover, their international achievements have become a central part of their claim to academic excellence."

At present, U.Va. is not highly ranked in terms of international activities, the commission found. It ranks about 40th overall -- 37th in the percentage of foreign scholars on Grounds; 66th in percentage of foreign students enrolled; and with only about 16 percent of its students studying abroad, U.Va. falls well below the 30-40 percent levels common at its peer institutions. Duke now sends 44 percent of its students abroad at some point in their university careers, according to Bruce Kuniholm, vice provost for international affairs at Duke.

One of the commission's goals is to see 80 percent of U.Va. undergraduates participating in study abroad by 2020.

The U.Va. commission outlined five main elements of a strong international program: 1) sending more U.Va. students and faculty abroad; 2) internationalizing the curriculum; 3) hosting more international students and scholars; 4) fostering international liaisons; and 5) sponsoring international activities.

U.Va. has already embarked on initiatives in several of these areas, including the long-standing programs in the study of language, literature and culture in Valencia, Spain, and other countries, an architecture program in Venice, Italy, and a commerce program in Bath, England. Closer to home, the University is establishing a new international residential college, which is expected to be ready by the fall of 2001, and a new building for residential language programs, which should be completed in the fall of 2002.

The commission's recommendations for new programs include the creation of an International Institute of American Studies, which would build on U.Va.'s strong library collection in Americana; an Institute of American Language and Culture, which would promote the teaching of English as a second language, among other initiatives, both for undergraduates studying in the United States for the first time and for graduate students becoming teaching assistants; and a Center for International Medicine, building on existing programs at the School of Medicine.

The commission also addressed ways in which existing programs can be improved and expanded, especially the International Studies Office. In particular, the commission found that the current infrastructure serving students and faculty members studying abroad is woefully inadequate. For example, a good staff-to-student ratio for study abroad programs is 1-to-50 to 1-to-100. At U.Va., the current ratio is 1-to-500, according to the commission's report.

Visa services and housing assistance for visiting international students and scholars have likewise been lacking. A good ratio of staff-to-international students is 1-to-300; at U.Va., the current ratio is 1-to-659.

While the U.Va. commission has not recommended a budget, Kuniholm said that Duke has earmarked $20 million in its current capital campaign to fund international initiatives. "You need a combination of vision and implementation," he said.

Quandt expects to spend the coming months working to expand the International Studies Office, updating and improving the International Studies Office Web page and establishing contacts with faculty members and administrators throughout the University. He also will be working closely with the administration and development office to establish priorities, estimate costs and determine ways of raising the necessary funds.

"I don't think we should study this to death," Quandt said. "We need to do it."


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