Nomination submitted by: Mark Schaub, Executive Director of Padnos International Center
Though the number of Grand Valley State University (GVSU) students studying abroad has doubled in the past four years, the growth alone is not the reason for this recognition. What is unique about GVSU’s accomplishment is the kind of growth the Padnos International Center (PIC) has been promoting.
Contrary to the national trend, more GSVU students study abroad individually, and on longer programs, than on short-term, faculty-led programs. To accomplish this, PIC staff advises students to pursue individual programs and backs up these efforts with scholarships and grants for students participating in longer and individual study abroad programs. They also focus staffing requests on areas that support independent study abroad and no longer encourage faculty to propose new faculty-led programs.
Since 2004, GVSU has consistently had more students participate in independent programs than on faculty-led programs. “We simply have not taken the easier path to increasing study abroad participation through large gains in the group programs,” explains Thomas J. Haas, President of GVSU. The innovative strategies implemented by the Barbara H. Padnos International Center serve as model for all practitioners in guiding their students to select long term and individual study abroad programs.