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International affairs restructured
to focus on support functions
December 15, 1997
The Division of International Affairs has been restructured into an office that will now report to the vice provost for research and graduate education.
"The change allows the office to focus more clearly on a mission of working with the other schools and colleges, along with students and faculty, to provide direct services," says Chancellor Mark Emmert.
The restructuring of the division comes after a proposal to create a new School for Public and International Affairs was deemed too costly.
Emmert says the proposal, submitted in 1995, had significant merit, but it would require a substantial increase in funding to be implemented.
"These funds would either have to come from reallocation of our shrinking general fund base from other schools, from an increase in student fees, from major philanthropy, or from a combination of the three," he says.
"Unfortunately our operating funds have continued to decline. While I found the proposal very attractive, I have no intention of starting a new school for which we cannot identify adequate funding."
This conclusion led the chancellor to appoint a faculty and staff committee to consider other options for the division.
The committee's recommendations forwarded to the chancellor in October focus on two key issues: the need for an administrator who can serve as the University's spokesperson on matters dealing with international affairs, and maintaining the synergy that has developed between most of the organizational units in the division.
"Since we are not going to create a new school," Emmert says, "the role of international affairs is predominantly one of academic, scholarly and student support, not the management of degree programs or of traditional academic administration. It is appropriate that the titles of the organization and its head reflect this mission."
The division is now known as the Office of International Affairs, and the administrator responsible for the office will hold the title of executive director instead of dean.
"The restructuring has put an end to hopes of establishing a school with an aca- demic focus," says Lucy Creevey, who is now the division's acting dean.
The office will continue to be represented on the dean's council."We are looking for cohesiveness and collaboration in the international education and development aspects of this office," says Robert Smith, vice provost for research and dean of the graduate school."The change gives us an opportunity to re-evaluate how those functions integrate with one another."
When the division was founded eight years ago by Richard Vengroff, he intended to make it an academic area, says Creevey."There was no cohesiveness in the division. There were just scattered components, but Vengroff was able to pull them together."
The division was charged with administering exchange programs, facilitating the adjustment to campus of international students and developing programs, such as UConn's initiative to create a university in Thailand. The Office of International Affairs will continue to carry out these functions, except for the Study Abroad Program, which will be integrated into the new Center for Undergraduate Education.
"Study Abroad was removed from the division because almost everything that was being administered in the division is primarily a graduate program," Creevey says.
Other duties include international services and programs, the Institute for Public Service and the University of Connecticut American English Language Institute.
Area studies will also remain a function of the office, the chancellor says, because the office is providing them with support services.
Emmert says grant development functions aimed at supporting international activities will also be a central part of the office's mission.
The next executive director, working with Smith, will determine the final organizational structure for the office. An internal search is being conducted to fill the position.
"When you have an opportunity to bring a new person aboard," says Smith, "it is a great opportunity to look afresh at all the things you are doing. We can do this by having the new executive director engage in strategic planning to find the best ways for staff on the development side and the education sides to maximize opportunities and service to the UConn academic community."