Program Launched to Increase Study Abroad at MSIs - Higher Education
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Program Launched to Increase Study Abroad at MSIs


by Jamal Eric Watson

Dr. James P. Pellow is president and chief executive officer of CIEE.

Dr. James P. Pellow is president and chief executive officer of CIEE.

The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education’s Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI) has teamed up with CIEE: Council on International Educational Exchange to launch a three-year strategy to increase study abroad at minority-serving institutions (MSIs).

According to officials, the initiative will include workshops for college presidents, faculty training programs and student scholarships.

“Our partnership with CIEE is an unprecedented effort to move the needle in a serious way around study abroad for students of color and especially students at minority-serving institutions,” said Dr. Marybeth Gasman, a professor and director of CMSI. “Through a comprehensive plan that engages MSI leaders, faculty and students in the planning and facilitation of study abroad, we can bring vast learning opportunities to students who have longed to experience a larger world and enhance their learning.”

Last November, CIEE and CMSI held an inaugural Study Abroad Leadership Workshop for Minority Serving Institutions in Berlin. Ten presidents of leading minority-serving institutions gathered to discuss the importance of exposing more students from MSIs to international education opportunities. According to Gasman, workshop participants agreed that study abroad should be adapted as part of a school’s overall culture in order to succeed in engaging more students of color in the practice. Such culture change, they determined, requires a multipronged effort that relies on engaging faculty, known to be key influencers in mentoring and guiding students.

“As the world has become a more interconnected and smaller place, students from underresourced communities cannot afford to be left on the sidelines and marginalized in this new world order,” said Dr. Michael J. Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College. “The work that CIEE does in expanding the cultural and educational opportunities for all students is critically important and tremendously underappreciated. The Paul Quinn College community is extremely grateful for CIEE’s and CMSI’s investment in our students and our faculty.”

Sorrell has joined forces with Dr. Wayne Frederick (Howard University), Dr. Joseph I. Castro (California State University, Fresno), Dr. Mildred Garcia (California State University, Fullerton), Dr. Henry Tisdale (Claflin University), Dr. Elmira Magnum (Florida A&M University), Dr. Vinton Thompson (Metropolitan College of New York), Dr. David Wilson (Morgan State University), Dr. George Wright (Prairie View A&M University) and Dr. Willie Larkin (Grambling State University) in working on the next phase of faculty engagement.

According to Gasman, the partnership with CIEE will include:

  • President workshops on international education
  • Faculty training and development programs on international education
  • Student scholarships for study abroad

Gasman said that research shows that students who study abroad have higher GPAs, are more likely to graduate on time and are more attractive to employers that seek to hire candidates with intercultural competencies.

While students of color represent almost 40 percent of all undergraduates, they represent only 26 percent of those students who study abroad, including just 8.3 percent who are Hispanic and 5.6 percent who are Black.

“Expanding opportunities for global education is an imperative for university leaders across the country. Our experience indicates that the most successful colleges are those that have strong leadership advocating for international education, engaged faculty shaping programs that are appropriate for each institution and students that have the support they need to participate,” said Dr. James P. Pellow, president and chief executive officer of CIEE. “The opportunity to work with the nation’s leader in promoting best practices for education at MSIs is both a privilege and a powerful way to effect change.”
Jamal Eric Watson can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter @jamalericwatson.

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