It is my privilege to serve Louisiana State University International Programs in the capacity of Associate Vice Provost for International Programs. I first arrived in Baton Rouge in 1978 to learn English at LSU. My LSU experience as an international student was destined to be unforgettable, and certainly, special. In what relates to international programs, it allowed me to appreciate the time and efforts that numerous people devoted to making my whole experience wealth enhancing, professionally and personally. Upon completion of my Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, I selected Louisiana as one of two priority destinations for starting my career. I was honored that LSU selected me for a position as Assistant Professor. Giving back to LSU was a priority when I started my career as a professor and becoming a professor at LSU was part of that commitment. I worked with the LSU AgCenter International Programs on numerous assignments for about two decades and was always on the look-out for recruiting global talent and developing partnerships. Throughout this trajectory of student-faculty-alumni professor-Executive Director-Associate Vice Provost for International Programs at LSU, I have learnt to value the wealth of LSU and Louisiana: its people.
LSU International Programs (IP) has evolved into a more holistic system to serve the needs of the students, faculty, and the LSU community on international affairs. It is currently structured into four units: Academic Programs Abroad (APA), Administration, Development, and Outreach (AD&O), International Services (IS), and the International Cultural Center. Mathematically, IP=APA+AD&O+IS+ICC.
I am enthusiastic and fully committed to providing leadership to these four units in a manner that enhances the LSU brand as a global player in higher education. The local and worldwide opportunities to achieve this goal abound. It energizes my enthusiasm to realize, for example, that Louisiana is endowed with a cultural heritage and history of enviable international dimensions. This attribute alone makes LSU a natural global partner. The citizens of Louisiana are putting it to work to benefit local economic development. The World Trade Center of New Orleans (WTCNO), for example, is a member of a network of over 300 centers worldwide. For Louisianans wanting to take their business global, the WTCNO is one hub of connectivity. They recently reported that in 2013 Louisiana broke an export record. Some of our top commercial partners are really close and some are far away from Louisiana. Mexico, China, Singapore, Japan, Canada, Brazil, the Netherlands, Panama, Egypt, France, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are some of the top destinations for exports. Some of the best performing industries this year (petroleum and coal products, agricultural products, chemicals, food and kindred products), employ people throughout the state in fields where LSU has programs of excellence. As I look through these facts and LSU’s role in developing the local and global talent that will drive these industries in the near future, my enthusiasm grows.
We have over 1,700 international students from over 110 countries. Some top countries in terms of student numbers at LSU come from Louisiana’s top commercial partners. We have an increasing number of students going abroad and the interest in learning about such opportunities is growing in our student population. We have LSU colleges that are exemplary in their international engagement and have high interest. Most of all, the fuel of internationalization is the faculty. Their support, commitment and engagement will drive LSU to international prominence. We have a history of developing global scholars and leaders. We are proud of our international alumni and want them to be an integral part of our growth. We can do more and there is no doubt that LSU International Programs can facilitate growth! A number of new initiatives in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Europe are quickly leading us in that direction. We are also collaborating with other units on campus in identifying models that one day will make ‘Comprehensive Internationalization’ a reality for LSU.
In closing, I will leave you with a theme:
Be locally smart- think globally!