The Office of International Programs split into two offices this summer — the Office of Global Education, which will manage study abroad and international education, and the Office of Global Services, which will oversee the university’s global engagement and provide services for international students.
“This reorganization is the outcome of a year of reflection on how we can best facilitate the international work of students, faculty and staff,” Provost Robert Groves wrote in an email to the student body. “It will not disrupt existing processes and procedures.”
According to Director of Global Services Vanessa Meyers, the internal reorganization of the OIP will help the university keep up with its international growth.
“The rationale for the reorganization, which took place after months of consultations across the university, is the need to better support Georgetown’s growing international educational and administrative activities — activities once centered within OIP but now distributed within and among schools,” Meyers wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Dividing OIP’s functional areas into two new offices, while maintaining current staffing and location, allows both OGE and OGS to streamline their work in support of students, faculty and staff and to better support other units across the university.”
Vice Provost for Education Randy Bass said that the change reflects a shift in Georgetown’s international trajectory over the past 40 years.
“I think we felt that over that time, the world had changed, and the relationship of the globe to the university had changed,” Bass said. “Once upon a time, it made sense to have all of the international programs and business consolidated in one place. Since that time, Georgetown has become a global university with interests everywhere. We felt we needed a more robust and distributed structure to serve what had evolved into a much greater sense of Georgetown’s identity.”
The two new offices will serve distinctly different functions to accommodate the distinct needs of students who desire to study abroad and international students who have come to Georgetown. According to Bass, OIP’s staff, which has been split between the two new programs, is pleased with the reorganization.
“I think the reaction has been universally positive,” Bass said. “We’ve made sure that we engaged all the stakeholders around the university and there was no negative reaction that we encountered. People were concerned about one kind of service or another that they wanted to make sure continued in the excellent way that they had become accustomed, but I think everyone thought that splitting the OIP into the two distinctive divisions were both positive moves that would strengthen each of those two dimensions and better integrate them with other elements of the university.”
The OGE, according to Director of Global Education Craig Rinker, will work to enrich study-abroad experiences and provide support for students.
“Our intention is to continue to provide outstanding student advising and programmatic support while also positioning ourselves to adapt to innovative learning pedagogy that will define higher education at Georgetown for years to come,” Rinker wrote in an email. “Our hope is that the establishment of the Office of Global Education as a separate unit will expand our ability to support and enrich the international experiences of students while working with the four undergraduate schools to connect those experiences with the curriculum and co-curriculum.”
The OGS will continue to support current Georgetown international students, while adding new programs that bolster the university’s international engagement. Additionally, the OGS provides advice on a range of issues, such as global safety and relevant tax and finance policies, to administrators and faculty members conducting operations internationally.
“This reorganization has allowed us to strengthen the support we can give the Georgetown community in the following areas: global activities and operations; global partnerships and agreements; services for international students and scholars, teaching and research abroad with Georgetown; and international travel and safety,” Meyers wrote.
The new programs that the OGS plans to incorporate include training classes on faculty-led trips abroad, international collaboration and global operations policies, according to Meyers.
Rinker said that this split will not have a direct effect on students, but will instead push the university toward an even more global focus.
“Building upon our international character and expanding our global presence is a core aspect of our institutional mission,” Rinker wrote. “This reorganization is designed to recognize and support the significant international expertise of our faculty and the interest and engagement of our students, faculty and staff in global activities.”
Meyers agreed, and said that the reorganization will help Georgetown remain at the cutting edge of international programs.
“It is important for Georgetown to remain at the forefront of student learning including offering opportunities for undergraduate students to participate in diverse communities that provide significant engagement with different cultures and global issues,” Meyers wrote.
Karen Zhang (COL ’17), an international student from Beijing, China, said she experienced frustrations in working with the OIP, but hopes that the reorganization will help the OGS make some necessary changes.
“I think it’s going to be a really good thing because I don’t think that enough attention is paid to the needs of international students here,” Zhang said. “For example, when students move back in on campus after summer and winter breaks, there is barely any wiggle room and that’s extremely inconvenient for international students because we’re taking [long] flights two days before classes start. There is no attention paid to that.”
Livia Matteuci (COL ’16) is studying abroad in Chile now, and said that despite initial problems, the OIP has been extremely helpful and hands-on.
“I feel like the OIP office wasn’t very organized or clear before I left about what to expect or what was needed in terms of the application when I was applying,” Matteucci said. “Initially, it was pretty frustrating working with them, but since I’ve been here it’s been really positive.”
After two months in Chile, Matteucci said she feels well-supported by the OGE.
“I’ve been in Chile for almost two months now and have felt fully supported both with CIEE staff here in Valparaiso and also my study-abroad adviser and academic dean back at Georgetown,” Matteucci said. “It’s especially crucial that we have support not only for questions about credit transfers and the like, but more importantly for security and safety reasons. In the past week there has been an earthquake and two bombs in my area, and my family back home was immediately contacted to assure them I was safe.”