New senior position targets internationalization

As The University of Western Ontario embraces some ambitious goals for attracting more international students, university Senate recently approved the creation of a new senior administration position to focus solely on implementing this stronger international presence on campus.

The university’s new four-year plan looks to boost its international numbers to 250 students for the incoming class, and to 400 by 2014-15. Janice Deakin, provost and vice-president (academic), says the creation of a vice-provost and associate vice-president (international education) sends a clear signal to internationalization is of increasing importance to Western’s broader academic mission.

“The new position calls for leadership in the planning, co-ordination and execution of new and existing international initiatives,” Deakin says, adding the recruitment process for the new position will get underway this summer. “The incumbent, once hired, will work to improve communication and exchange of information on the internationalization file, and will enhance our capacity to co-ordinate all our various international activities in the most effective and efficient manner possible.”

Deakin adds achieving the university’s international student enrolment targets would be one important measure of success of the new role, but the position’s mandate will be broader than that, including creating more opportunities for international learning experiences and enhancing the support provided to international students.

“Our ultimate success will be measured through the incremental improvements the entire campus community can make in creating the right environment for increased mobilization of talented students to and from Western on their journey to becoming global citizens.”

Because of overlapping responsibilities, the individual in this new position will also assist Ted Hewitt, vice-president (research and international relations), within his portfolio.

Hewitt sees this an “absolutely critical step” toward Western achieving its international student recruitment targets, as well as developing meaningful academic program options with partner universities abroad.

“The position will align extremely well with internationalization efforts already in place and now being strengthened within Research Western to develop strategic international institutional relationships more broadly in target regions, and to promote collaborative research and training opportunities with universities within these,” says Hewitt, adding the other critical dimension of Western’s internationalization strategy will be led by the Lorna Jean Edmonds, who was recently appointed executive director (international relations).

Edmonds began her new role at Western May 9, coming from the University of Toronto where she served as assistant vice-president (international relations).

Some of the key responsibilities of the vice-provost and associate vice-president (international education) position include budget head for the Western International Education Office, undergraduate international student recruitment and retention, global education initiatives, international student services and international education partnerships.

In developing the model for this new position, Deakin looked at what large research universities in Canada, the United States and Australia have done to be successful. Julie McMullin, special advisor to the provost (internationalization), undertook a review of how the international portfolio was structured at schools such as Harvard, Yale, Sidney Monash, Melbourne, UBC and Alberta, among others.

Following the review, it was determined the model best suited to Western is similar to the one introduced at the University of Alberta in 2006, a school which has made impressive strides toward their international aspirations ever since, Deakin notes.