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International Activities Planning Commission
Final Report
May 2000


In September 1998 President John Casteen asked Brantly Womack to organize an International Activities Planning Commission (IAPC) as one of the four planning commissions comprising the Virginia 2020 Initiative. The IASP has been meeting since January 1999 to consider the University's immediate and long-term international needs and opportunities. UVA can and should become a global university of excellence within the next twenty years, and achieving that objective will require major improvements in international capacity and organization.

The IAPC divided international activities into four concrete task areas and one organizational area and assigned a task group to each area.

Task group #1: UVA students and faculty abroad

Task group #2: Internationalizing the curriculum

Task group #3: International students and scholars

Task group #4: Institutional liaisons

Task group #5: Appropriate University organization of international activities

The task groups investigated UVA's needs and capacities and also examined the international programs of leading universities in this area. They then formulated proposals for the long-term, medium-term and short-term agendas. These were first presented in the Interim Report of December 1999, and have been further elaborated and refined for the Final Report. Special attention is paid in the Final Report to questions of organization and activities in 2000-1.

Besides its task group activities, the IAPC has been an active participant in several major on-going projects, including the proposal for an International Residential College, review of the English as a Second Language program, growth of the International Studies Office, restoration and development of international broadcasting (SCOLA) on grounds, and the development of a Language Quarter in the vicinity of the French and Spanish houses on JPA.

The most important proposal calls for the establishment of a Vice-Provost for International Activities to coordinate and encourage all of the University's international activities. The purpose would not be to create central control for international activities because they are necessarily diverse and diffused throughout the University. But international activities have been left at the periphery, with little recognition of their importance to the University's general mission and quality. A Vice-Provost for International Activities in conjunction with an all-University Advisory Council on International Activities could provide incentives and start-up funding for international initiatives, coordinate university-wide activities, and organize efforts for funding and development.

In order to provide a transition between the work of the IAPC and permanent institutional arrangements, we are proposing that an Interim Vice-Provost for International Activities be appointed as soon as possible. The interim vice provost would organize and lead an International Activities Committee that would be the precursor to the Advisory Council on International Activities. These arrangements would not only provide an organizational transition, but they would also begin to implement plans to coordinate and encourage international activities.

The list below suggest a basic recommendation, a breakthrough recommendation, and an immediate task for next year for each of the four substantive task groups. The basic recommendations are essential steps toward making UVA a global university of excellence. Without significant progress in these areas, our disabilities in the international dimension will continue to constrain our accomplishments in other areas. The breakthrough recommendations identify important initiatives that, if taken, would rapidly create a situation of prominence and competitive advantage for UVA. If the breakthrough recommendations are implemented, then international activities will help lead the University’s qualitative leap forward. The immediate task singles out a specific objective for next year.

It should be remembered that international activities are by their nature diffuse. A glance at the detailed list of proposals later in this general summary and expecially in the individual task group reports will show that what needs to be done does not easily boil down to one or two objectives or themes. But it is also true that the objectives mentioned below are crucial to the University's progress in international activities.

Major recommendations:

Task group #1: UVA students and faculty abroad

Basic: 80 percent of undergraduates involved in study abroad by 2020.

Breakthrough: Development of fifth-year abroad programs that do not break the rhythm of the Lawn experience but add a major international experience integrated with disciplinary training and career objectives.

Next year: Concrete study and recommendations for the expansion and fiscal autonomy of Study Abroad.

Task group #2: Internationalizing the curriculum

Basic: Globalize teaching capacity: adequate faculty resources (we can’t teach what we don’t know), flexible language programming and technology appropriate to the new century.

Breakthrough: Initiatives that integrate international aspects of academic life with the rest of University people and activities. Examples include the International Residential College, programs for returning 3rd year study abroad students, and contingent incentives for international scholars and grad students to share their experiences.

Next year: Plan implementation of pilot programs that go beyond the boundaries of normal language work.

Task group #3: International students and scholars

Basic: Transformation of International Studies Office and accommodations into pleasant centerpieces of UVA’s global reciprocity.

Breakthrough: Development of an English as a Second Language program that focuses on advanced language training rather than minimum skills.

Next year: Begin planning an International Summer Institute in American Studies.

Task group #4: Institutional liaisons

Basic: Systematic worldwide development of institutional relationships

Breakthrough: An International Institute of American Studies.

Next year: Formalize procedures and standards for international liaisons, and begin to explore specific opportunities.

Task group #5: Appropriate organization of international activities

Basic: Creation of an Vice Provost for International Activities, an Advisory Council on International Activities, and an incentive budget for encouraging and coordinating international activities.

Next year: An Interim Vice-Provost for International Activities leading an International Activities Committee.

The achievements of other universities and the response of the UVA community to the IC's activities convinces us that international activities here could be transformed from a relatively backward aspect of the University to an interactive global dimension of the University's excellence. For this to happen, however, the energy and focus on international activities that has begun with the International Commission and the Virginia 2020 Project must continue, and this requires continuing leadership.

Task Group Summary

The task groups were asked to present their findings in three time-frames: 2020, mid-range, and what should be done in the immediate future. Because no one knows what conditions will exist in 2020 and much can happen in 20 years, our long-term plans converge with our vision of the University of Virginia as a global university of excellence. Mid-term is defined by two criteria: objectives that must be gradually cumulative over time, and objectives that require significant external funding. What to do now is the category of present concerns and opportunities that should be addressed over the next one or two years.

Task group #1: UVA students and faculty abroad

Vision 2020

80 percent involvement of undergraduates in study abroad programs. The objective is to have study abroad become a normal and integrated part of the undergraduate experience. Cost of participation should be comparable to on-grounds costs, and regular financial aid as well as specific scholarships should be available.

Provision of full spectrums of study abroad opportunities. The horizonal dimension would be a broad choice of UVA programs throughout the world, addressing a variety of disciplinary interests. The vertical dimension would be programs of various lengths, from a few weeks to a full year, and involving all levels of language commitment. Options would range from faculty-led summer 3-credit programs lasting a few weeks to special fifth-year programs (described below) for honors work.

Facilitation of study and research abroad for students in graduate programs and professional schools.

Facilitation of faculty research and teaching abroad. Without faculty engagement abroad, UVA cannot become a global university.

Mid-range tasks

Things that take time

Development and execution of appropriate mid-range goals for expansion of study abroad. The four parameters would be: percentage of students in study abroad programs; percentage of students in long-term programs; number, variety and quality of UVA programs; number, variety and quality of programs open to UVA students.

Development of a fifth-year practicum program for health science students, probably in Mexico, that would provide professional training as well as language and cultural training.

Integration of university study abroad with career counseling and alumni activities. Utilize the Alumni Association to develop international internships and externships.

Things that take money

An incentive fund and staff support for the development and management of study abroad programs. Programs should be based on well-supported faculty initiatives.

Funding to facilitate faculty and graduate student participation in international conferences and research. For instance, 50% of international travel expenses at Michigan State University are paid from a central fund.

A competitive scholarship program for fifth-year international research modeled on the junior Fulbright program.

What to do now

Improve the funding and staffing situation of ISO's study abroad capacity so that it can engage in strategic planning and program development.

Utilize the integrated systems project (ISE) for a redesign and regular update of the UVA ISO web site. More specifically, develop a Web site to include information on approved international programs, effects of international work on faculty benefit packages, tax implications, and information regarding funding opportunities. University of Wisconsin can be used as a model for the latter task.

Restructure summer session to remove barriers to international study and program development, allowing programs to become self sufficient and allowing students to pay for summer session with financial aid.

Initiate review of how the tenure process could be adjusted to remove disincentives for research abroad by junior faculty.


Task group #2: Internationalizing the curriculum

Vision 2020

Creation of a comprehensive system of area centers. Area centers, like the South Asia Center and East Asia Center, provide a regional focus for interdisciplinary faculty and student contact, and they welcome and sponsor students and scholars from the region. Area centers provide an intelligent and interested interface between the University and the world. They also structure and encourage critical masses of regional expertise that can be available to the rest of the University.

Availability of faculty expertise and undergraduate and graduate courses about the history, politics and cultures of all regions of the world and of major countries.

Encouragement of university-wide cooperation in international activities, and of the broadest possible accessibility to international opportunities.

Creation of a University-wide center for the encouragement and utilization of foreign languages across the curriculum. The center would encourage the integration of language competence with the non-language curriculum.

Expansion of foreign language offerings to the variety and the depth that students demand. It should be recognized that language departments serve University-wide interests, and that language instruction requires small classes and educational technology.

Creation of a variety of residential learning environments that are international in focus, such as the International Residential College and the Foreign Language Quarter, and integration of these environments with other residential programs and with the University's international activities and programs.

Technologies to the World. Expansion of international research and teaching initiatives that use technology to join once remote parts of the world in projects of mutual benefit to partners.

Integration of global education with high school curricula and with language availability in primary schools.


Things that take time

Area centers should be organized for regions for which sufficient expertise already exists to form a critical mass. An example would be European Studies.

Redefine the Foreign Language Requirement as a gateway to study abroad and as a gateway to more interesting and useful language work. The Requirement provides an extended introduction to a language, but not competence or fluency in it. We must create incentives and attractive paths beyond the first two years.

Create advanced seminars modeled on the USEMs for students returning from 3rd year abroad programs that allow them to utilize and apply their knowledge and experiences.

Reorganization of technology infrastructure to support international objectives. This effort should be closely linked to offices or individuals actively involved in academic research and curricular development, as well as to those charged with overseeing and coordinating international activities.

Creation of an International Studies Honors program or certificate that would involve a yearlong international research project.

Review and enhancement of the effectiveness of all levels of language teaching, including summer programs.

Strengthening and coordinating the language-specific houses on grounds within a "Foreign Language Quarter" off JPA.

Students need to be involved with international study beginning in the First Year, perhaps through orientation materials and a program of activities particularly designed for them throughout the First Year Experience in cooperation with first-year dorms. They should have an "International Experience" by October of the first year. (i.e. invitation to dinner or a movie at one of the language houses, the Center for International Living and Learning, The International Center, etc).

Things that take money

Identify gaps in our area regional studies offerings and develop plans to remedy these situations. For instance, coverage of Southeast Asia is extremely weak.

Strengthen area centers that might be able to qualify for Title Six National Resource Center status. For example, help the Russian and Slavic Center regain that status, and consider what steps could be taken to raise the Middle East program to competitive levels.

Raise the level of budgetary support for foreign language departments to the level of other departments in Arts & Sciences, perhaps with contributions from other schools.

Support fund-raising and grant-writing by faculty and centers for international activities.

Support interdisciplinary teaching initiatives that utilize students' knowledge of foreign languages.

Fund cluster hirings: new interdisciplinary faculty positions on the University of Wisconsin model.

Organize and fund non-credit, informal language and culture short courses on the model of "Speaking Freely" at New York University.

Things to do now

Plan to develop the International Residential College into a major locus of international programming and activity.

Improve the general international orientation of UVA's web-based information.

Expand the COS faculty database to include all faculty and to include international activities.

Begin discussions and planning for fifth year abroad programs.

Organize a pilot "Speaking Freely" program to begin in Fall 2001.

Task group #3: International students and scholars

Vision 2020

Transformation of the International Studies Office into the central office and visible symbol of the University's commitment to international studies. This must be both a spatial and an administrative transformation of the ISO and its functions.

Creation of a program for international visiting scholars, both short-term and long-term, with appropriate living arrangements and integration into the University community. Such a program could include regular visitors, thereby creating ongoing relationships with international scholars.

Creation of an Institute for American Language and Culture. This would be first-rate program combining advanced English as a Second Language (ESL), cultural fluency, and individualized programs for specialists. The Institute would operate workshops in the summer as well as during the academic year.

Development of an international quarter in the area of the International Residential College, the proposed residential college on Sprigg Lane, by moving the International Studies Office and certain of the international programs into the area. This would then be a natural focus for programming that could involve students, faculty and visitors with academic and cultural interests in International Studies.

Mid-range goals

Things that take time

As services for international students and scholars become coordinated, efforts should be made to encourage interaction with the University's programming and curriculum. The area centers could play a major role in this.

The University needs to investigate our present supervisory, programming, and support services provided through the ISO. Compared to peer institutions we have a modest staff and a tiny budget.

Things that take money

Attractive housing dedicated for the use of international scholars and located in the International Quarter should be developed.

Things to do now

The University must immediately increase the budget of the ISO. At critical times, for example when processing visas or during admissions when students desperately need to contact the ISO, a shortage of people and operating budget restricts the ability of the staff to respond to requests or to send materials by express mail. We have heard specific complaints of international phone calls not being returned because the telephone budget cannot cover the expense. The result is that the University seems unresponsive and uncaring about international students with urgent needs and no one else to turn to.

As the staffing of ISO is expanded, attention will have to be paid to space problems.

Clarify and simplify procedures for hosting international scholars. The University's cumbersome financial and residential arrangements for hosting international scholars often deter international initiatives, particularly those involving scholars from developing countries.

Begin the restructuring and expansion of current ESL operations into an Institute for American Language and Culture, with the target of opening a Summer Institute for American Language and Culture in Summer 2002. This could be targeted at university-level teachers in English and American Studies at foreign universities, and could include American Studies seminars, advanced ESL master classes, field trips, and guest lectures. This could be done in conjunction with the International Institute of American Studies (see below).

Task group #4: Institutional liaisons


Development of an infrastructural capacity that is adequate to encourage and sustain flexible academic relationships with appropriate institutions and programs abroad.

The establishment of a select number of comprehensive institutional relationships with outstanding world universities, with due consideration given to the geographic distribution of such relationships. These would provide the university with an institutional pied terre throughout the world, encourage a fluid set of more specific relationships among academic programs, and lower the costs of doing academic business abroad.

Development of an appropriate international structure for UVA's strengths in American Studies. Details below.

The recent agreement between MIT and Cambridge University to merge a number of their science programs into what constitutes in effect a single academic enterprise appears to represent the cutting edge of the internationalization of the university. Systematic thought should be given to the issue of how such an internationalization with peer universities (and/or peer programs) would best advance the mission of the university in a rapidly changing intellectual culture worldwide.


Things that take time

A network of academic linkages that integrates what goes on intramurally--across as much of the university as possible--with every major world region. This will have to build upon existing ties and linkages that can be established and/or broadened. Ideally, we should want to see a program along the lines of our Valencia, Spain program (although almost certainly not as vast, i.e., 360 students per year) in every major world region.

After appropriate University-level leadership in international activities is established, Departments and Professional Schools should be asked to undertake a study--on the model of the self-study process--and issue a report on their interests with respect to developing overseas institutional partnerships.

Things that take money

Establish an International Institute of American Studies (IIAS). Blessings of history, current strengths and location converge to make American Studies UVA's area of greatest international competitive advantage. The IIAS would approach the study of America not only from an interdisciplinary perspective, but also from a global perspective. It would not simply be a place for Americans to interpret America for fellow Americans, with others looking on, but instead would provide the forum and locus for global interpretations of America for as broad an audience as possible. The Institute should be founded in consultation with international programs in American Studies around the world, and should remain a venue of international consultation and coordination. This omnibus institute would be fruitfully associated with, and draw upon the successful experience of, the existing program in American Studies, the Miller Center, and the International Institute for Jefferson Studies, as well as individual schools and departments. This should go far toward establishing U.Va as a world university. No one who wishes to contribute to American Studies could afford to ignore what is happening here. The ensuing synergy would create a significant "import benefit" for the University, as Americanists from around the world would be enriching the intellectual life of the University in novel and mutually reinforcing ways.

Things to do now

Begin exploration of specific countries or regions where program innovation appears especially promising. Examples would include France and Japan.

Establish guidelines for the development of international liaisons, including such issues as exchanges and property acquisition, on the model of the University of Wisconsin and Michigan State University guidelines.

Encourage proposals for other pilot programs of international cooperation.

Task group #5:

Appropriate organization of international activities

The recommendation of task group #5 does not easily fit categories of short-, medium- and long-term. Instead, there is a recommendation for permanent institutional innovations, and for transitional arrangements to bridge from the International Activities Planning Commission to the new institutions.

Appropriate Institutions for the Encouragement and Coordination of International Activities

The major recommendation of their eloquent report is the establishment of the office of Vice Provost for International Affairs. This recommendation can be broken down into several essential components.

The Vice Provost. The major reason for establishing the office would be to provide strong, University-wide leadership for the continuing development of the global dimension of the University. The leadership task would be on the one hand to coordinate and encourage the international activities spread throughout the University, and on the other hand to represent the interests and mission of international activities to the central administration, alumni, and foundations.

Advisory Council on International Activities. Since international activities at UVA and at the leading international universities are faculty-driven, and since successful leadership in this area requires communication and coordination across the University, there should be an Advisory Council on International Activities chaired by the Vice Provost and drawn from all schools and area centers. The Council should meet regularly and serve as an official review and sounding-board for international activities.

Incentive budget. All of the successful programs that we have studied, and especially Duke, which is in a situation most comparable to our own, have large incentive budgets for time-limited investments in program innovation. It can be expected that most of the international activities begun by the Vice Provost will either become self-sustaining (as in the case of successful study abroad programs) or become part of the regular budgets of schools (as in the case of incentive contributions to new lines). In some cases, incentive funding may be necessary in order to qualify a program for Title Six or other federal funding. It can be expected that the Vice Provost would grant and supervise a rolling program of incentive funding as most old programs stand on their own and new ideas are helped along. If the incentive budget (ie, not including operating costs) is comparable to Duke's $500,000/yr, then we should expect a comparable rate of progress.

Quality senior professional staff. Especially at University of Wisconsin, it was evident that the senior staff in the International Institute, Study Abroad, and International Services was key to the quality of the core program and services. Of course, as emphasized elsewhere in this report, these services, currently combined in the International Studies Office, need to have sufficient capacity so that they can do more than simply run ahead of a brushfire of small crises.

Staff of the Vice Provost's Office. The Vice Provost does not have to run all of the University’s international activities but he or she has to lead them. So the office staff needs to be sufficient to support leadership. The staff should include an executive assistant, a capable office assistant and a development officer.

International Acitivities needs endowment support, and in turn it can generate targets of opportunity not only for new development inititiatives but also for new donors. A vigorous development effort in international activities, supporting significant projects like those described in this report, could attract globally-minded donors of all sorts, including but not limited to international alumni. An immediate endowment target of $20 million is not unreasonable.

A comprehensive International Institute. The International Institute could coordinate ongoing programs and create synergies and efficiencies by performing useful common tasks for the area centers and other international programs. It would be ideal to bring the centers together in a common physical location, as most of our aspiration group has already done.

Transitional Arrangements

Since a Vice Provost for International Activities cannot be hired for Fall 2000, it is important to make arrangements to begin further development and implementation of the suggestions of the International Activities Planning Commission. This will require active leadership from an Interim Vice Provost for International Activities, a University-wide International Activities Committee, an incentive budget, and some staff support.

Interim Vice Provost for International Activities. The Interim Vice Provost would provide leadership for international activities during the transition. This would involve organizing and chairing the International Activities Committee, organizing and supervising various ad hoc committees focussed on specific projects, working with Development to target international projects, and representing international activities within the University and to the outside.

International Activities Committee. The International Activities Committee would be a broadly representative, University-wide committee that would be a forum for discussion of new initiatives, a primary source for the organization of ad hoc committees, and a major channel of communication across the University. It would advise the Interim Vice Provost on the allocation of the incentive budget.

Incentive budget. Essential to the encouragement of international activities is the possibility of short term financial support. Initially this budget could be in the $50,000-$100,000 range.

Development support. International activities touch on many aspects of development that hitherto have not been explored. One of the major tasks of the Interim Vice Provost would be to collaborate with Development in these areas.

Staff support. Since the interim arrangements will be moving toward permanent arrangements capable of sustaining implementation of international projects, it is important that staff support begin to be developed.



Although its efforts are unfinished and more input from the entire University community is welcome, the International Commission has worked hard to bring together these recommendations.

We have had both positive and negative inspirations for our work. On the positive side, since each of us is personally involved in international activities, we know that the University of Virginia has the capacity for rapid globalization if it so chooses. There is no genetic defect that separates us from our aspiration group, only leadership, resource commitment and hard work. On the negative side, each of us has worked hard on the Commission because our own international activities are chronically and sometimes acutely frustrated by the University’s inattention. We work on the fringe of the University’s consciousness, leadership, structures, and resources, and that fringe is known as the world. We pray for a Copernican revolution in Charlottesville.

At present, the University is engaged in a heartening amount of international activities. The creation of the Commission, our conference earlier this semester, the International Residential College, the discussion of a Foreign Language Quarter, all have contributed to a sense of dynamism and optimism concerning the University’s future as a center of global excellence.

However, if basic changes are not made this year in the University’s view of itself then a historic opportunity will be lost. The International Commission has been asked to contribute an international dimension to the University’s vision of itself in 2020. Here it is, in embryo. If the response is, "Not now…," then the question is not "Then when?" because a very unusual opportunity for change would have been deflected and lost. Presidents do not often ask for extraordinary planning efforts from the entire academic community, nor does the community often respond in such a whole-hearted and optimistic way. The question should be, "Why not?" We sincerely hope that that question will not have to be asked. Let us together move on to "How?" and "What next?"


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