Walt Disney had it right: we do indeed live in a "Small World."
Perhaps it's a smaller place than even Mr. Disney could have imagined.
Perhaps it's a smaller place than even Mr. Disney could have imagined. In recent years, the increase in electronic technology and communication has suddenly made distant corners of the world highly visible and to some degree accessible. With such phrases as "global market share," "global security" and "international business" now dominating the headlines of business sections in most U.S. papers, Kettering administrators Giancarlo Taylor and Jane Evarian feel the University has an opportunity to position itself as a key component in the education of professionals ready for careers in the global market place. After all, this is the environment in which most, if not all, students will someday operate as professionals.
"As we continue developing economic and cultural independence, it's critical for students to work and play together as society works toward developing a global 21st century," explained Evarian, director of Kettering's International Admissions and Cooperative Education Office.
Like Evarian, Taylor, who directs Kettering's Study Abroad program, also recognizes the importance of why students must view their education and careers in global terms. He believes that Kettering undergraduates should look at opportunities to study abroad as lessons in reality.
"The future of corporate America involves a future abroad, which is especially true after the events of Sept. 11," he said."Many people feel that what is needed in this world is a world of trust. The only way to achieve this ideal is to offer our students chances to study overseas and interact with different people and cultures as a way of learning more about the world." Both Taylor and Evarian feel Kettering is on the precipice of global greatness in terms of opportunity and feel that the vision University President James E.A. John has for the Study Abroad program and International Admissions and Cooperative Education Office is well within the institution's reach.
Taylor, who comes from the Institute for American Universities (IAU) in Chicago where he served as assistant director of Admissions for several years, brings a wealth of international experience to Kettering's Study Abroad program. His duties as director of Study Abroad include working closely with students to prepare them for overseas study, marketing the program to reach a greater number of current Kettering students, investigating new study abroad venues and programs, and assisting in developing new partnerships with European universities. But there is more he hopes to accomplish during his service to the school.
"One of my goals for the program is to substantially increase the number of Kettering students who travel abroad," he said."We have seen an increase since I came here last November, which is great. Plus, faculty such as Professor White, Luchen Li,Henry Kowalski, Raghu Echempati and Bill Webster have been very supportive."
Taylor also hopes to gain support for the Study Abroad infrastructure, which would help accommodate increasing numbers of students who wish to participate in the program.
"Since I've been here, more students have expressed interest in the program and realize we do live and work in a global environment," he said. "Many of them have said that the experience has opened their eyes and they come back more mature and confident. What I would like to do now is internationalize our community, bring more international activities on campus. Basically, I would like to bring the world to Kettering and send Kettering students out to experience the world."
This concept is one of particular importance to Jane Evarian. Before her appointment to Kettering last summer, she worked at Michigan State University in the international education area for more than 12 years. Her decision to come to Kettering revolves around the potential to build the school's enrollment of international students seeking undergraduate degrees. Because of Kettering's renowned co-op program, she views the University's outcome-based education program as an enticement to international students. But since Kettering is fairly new to international enrollment of degree-seeking students, she understands that it will take time to build the International Admissions and Cooperative Education Office.
"We're a bit unknown to the international student," she said. "Part of our challenge is to bring Kettering to potential international students."To do this, Evarian continues to develop relationships and work closely with overseas academic advising centers and international schools positioned around the world. But this is just a start. Upon her arrival at Kettering last summer, she researched and produced a market survey report titled "Market Analysis: A 21-country Report," which provides an in-depth look at Kettering's international enrollment possibilities and description of 21 key countries that could serve as new recruitment targets.
The information contained in this report is astounding. For example, in the 2000-2001 academic year, there were more than 550,000 international students studying at American universities, an increase of 4.8 percent over the previous year. Additionally, the state of Michigan ranks eighth as a destination for international students, which pumps more than $400 million into the state economy. More importantly, 46 percent of these students study business and management, engineering, mathematics and computer engineering, a fact that places Kettering in good stead to attract these students.
"Most countries perceive the U.S. to be preoccupied with a liberal arts education," Evarian said. "Kettering includes critically important liberal arts classes, but I think what appeals most to our international students is the outcome-based perspective of our academic and co-op program. This gives us an advantage over other universities."
Evarian also notes that Kettering's figure for international enrollment is approximately 150 full-time undergraduates. Based on current research, Kettering has received more than 235 applications from international students this year, which represents a new record. However, Evarian admits that she hopes to push this number higher in the near future.
"The more qualified international students who come to Kettering, the better it is for all of us," she said. To reach out and bring these students to Kettering, Evarian performs a number of activities, one of which includes making phone calls to prospective students. Many students appreciate this one-on-one contact, which is rare among larger universities."Right now, I'm trying to bring a managed effort to the program," she said. "I want to establish a good foundation for the office."
Thus far, she has achieved a great deal of success in terms of locating co-op assignments for students. And in many ways, she admits to feeling like a quasi-parent to these international students.
"I help them with their needs, including acclimation to our culture and society," she said. "Since Kettering is small, I can keep track of their progress and make sure they know I am here to help. This is very important to all of them."
And as Evarian and Taylor refine their efforts, the globalization of students will continue until all who attend the University recognize the Disney mantra "It's a Small World After All" as a truth of unlimited scope.
To learn more about Kettering's Study Abroad program and International Admissions and Cooperative Education Office, visit Kettering's website at www.kettering.edu.
Written by Gary J. Erwin