Creating an International Faculty Support Group

Laura Blake | 11-20-2018

The following is the sixth blog of a six-part weekly series highlighting model practices of International Student Offices.

By JEFF FOOT, EdD

In our ongoing series to help increase internationalization at your school, we’ve  covered four model practices:

  1. Having clear and concise vision statements and mission statements with global learning goals (Links to previous blogs)
  2. Having a designated Senior International Officer (SIO) who advocates for internationalization (link to blog)
  3. Having a program infrastructure that encourages study abroad, learning languages, and increased international content mixed into the general education curriculum (link to blog)
  4. And, increasing levels of international student care and support on campus (link to blog)

 

International Faculty Members Can Mentor International Students

The last model practice I’m covering involves building a vibrant support network for international faculty and developing methods for them to provide guidance and input at multiple levels. International faculty members represent a diverse group of people who have great influence on international students and, if organized, can share their respective cultures, knowledge, and experiences. This group can be a powerful positive force that, if harnessed, can have a profound influence on international socialization. The first hurdle is finding them all.

 

3 Strategies for Locating International Faculty Members

There is international faculty across almost every campus; the tricky part is locating them and bringing them together. While this sounds straightforward, the reality can be a challenge on some campuses. Universities are often large, diverse places and rarely is there one list containing all international faculty. It takes someone dedicated to lead the effort and locate people. Here are three strategies:

  1. Work with multiple offices including the human resources office as well as college chairs and deans. Once you have found a core group of faculty members, you should encourage them to spread the word about the group to others they may know. It may seem like it’s moving slowly at first, but like any group formation, as awareness grows, so will the numbers of participants.

As a side note, don’t feel you have to form a group exclusive to internationals. The husbands and wives of the international faculty are frequently Americans and they too care deeply about their spouse’s home country. Don’t discount their influence. Domestic viewpoints can serve as a cultural bridge for network building and broader ideas.

  1. Start with social media. Facebook is the obvious choice here, but you can also have a LinkedIn page. When creating an International Faculty page for your school, be sure to “friend” and “like” other campus organizations. Here’s an example:

    University of California, San Diego

  1. Add an International Faculty webpage to your school’s website. A webpage on your school’s website can also double as a recruiting tool for other professors considering job opportunities. Here’s a couple of good examples:

    https://global.arizona.edu/ifs
    https://global.psu.edu/category/international-faculty

 

Create a Vibrant Support Network for International Staff

Once the international faculty group is started, it is important to create a community among the members. I have seen success with both a formal and an informal community structure.

A good place to start is with an international faculty welcoming committee. This can be as simple as creating gift baskets to welcome international faculty with favorite items from local places (food, teacher-related gifts, gift cards, etc.) or throwing a back-to-school fall picnic for international faculty. Once some bonds begin to form between members, you can even ask them for some ideas for interacting with students to provide guidance and support.

Another idea is to create an advisory committee where faculty can connect and share ideas for connecting with and providing guidance and support for international students with the international office.

If you have taken on the leadership responsibility of forming an International Faculty Group for your school, be sure to intentionally introduce faculty members to each other. Be the spark that introduces network connections. That network could lead to a more formal advisory board with the goal of supporting international students by providing role models, mentors, and leaders who are accessible to the students on a daily basis.

Hopefully, creating an international faculty group will improve the international experience at your school and help it grow and thrive in the coming years.

That’s it. This blog concludes the series, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the ideas and passion surrounding internationalization on campuses, a group of people with whom I am proud to be associated.

What’s your experience at your institution? Email me at jfoot@lewer.com and tell me what you believe are the most important things you’ve done for the success of internationalization efforts at your school!

Author: Laura Blake