WSU takes action to promote international engagement

By Jane Payumo, Office of International Programs

global-90PULLMAN, Wash. – A systematic, university-wide program for international collaboration as well as resources supporting individual faculty efforts were called for and discussed at the recent Washington State University international research forum, “Beyond International Talk.”

An inventory of international partnerships and a next-steps checklist for faculty wanting to build such ties are among the ongoing follow-up efforts being pursued by sponsors – the WSU Office of International Programs and Office of Research – in response to the forum.

The three-hour event was attended by more than 80 institutional leaders, faculty, staff and international students.

Recipients of the 2014 International Research Travel Awards were recognized. They are: Ali Mehrizi-Sani, Haluk Resat, John Saunders, Andrew Duff, Tahira Probst and Viveka Vadyvaloo.

Large-scale strategy

“Development of a university-wide plan that highlights WSU’s research strengths and platform will elevate our commitment in establishing partnerships with some of the top universities abroad,” said participant Juming Tang, professor in biological systems engineering.

Participants review funding opportunities that promote collaboration with Latin American countries.

“We need to consider that our partners, like China, are changing tremendously,” he said. “Relying on personal faculty-faculty connections may no longer be effective in the coming years.”

International activity is already part of every fiber of the university, said Interim Provost Dan Bernardo, but he also recognized the need for deeper, sustained international engagement.

“We need to tell our story better and convince the rest of the world of what WSU has to offer internationally,” he said.

The draft strategic plan of WSU for 2014-2019 offers many things to increase WSU’s global presence in line with its land-grant mission, he said, adding that “international activities that result in scholarly outputs and generate outcomes that impact the university are encouraged.”

Individual support sought

In addition to the inventory and checklist mentioned above, faculty participants recommended the following measures to help them build strategic relationships abroad:

1) A “nuts and bolts” workshop on how to put together international agreements;

2) A database of WSU international alumni who are potential collaborators for WSU faculty;

3) A seminar series with high profile speakers that is a venue to connect faculty worldwide who are interested in international research collaborations;

4) Language support to enhance communication with colleagues, especially in Latin American countries.

Ongoing support available

“Our faculty members are a significant part of WSU’s internationalization efforts because of their outstanding work to prepare global citizens in their labs and classrooms,” said Jerman Rose, interim vice provost in the Office of International Programs.

Jerman Rose discusses the role of faculty in internationalizing WSU and preparing students to be global citizens.

He offered the office’s support to help faculty find international collaborators and grants, recruit international students and scholars, get English language support and expose students to cultural immersion programs.

Faculty support through seed and sponsored funding and through monitoring outcomes of international partnerships for tenure purposes is available from their offices, said Nancy Magnuson, interim vice president in the Office of Research, and Dan Nordquist, director in the Office of Grant and Research Development.

Chris Pannkuk, WSU International Research and Agricultural Development director, encouraged the group to take advantage of WSU’s legacy in international development. He shared his willingness to work with faculty as well as tips and insights on how they can first get “a foot in the door,” especially for projects in Africa.