Driving a global University
The November 2021 UMRA A.M. audience was treated to an exceptional presentation on the international education of students at the University of Minnesota by Meredith McQuaid, associate vice president and dean of international programs. Dean McQuaid explained the goal of global competency for students, and the need for life-long learning and global experience for all.
The program she leads at the University is one the largest and most successful in the country. In fact, 33 percent of University graduates have an international experience during their education compared to a national study abroad average of 3 percent. This means that literally thousands of University students spend educational time in more than 60 countries. Dean McQuaid is the University’s foremost internationalist.
She spoke about three topics: the internationalizing of our community, the effect of COVID-19 on international programs, and the U’s system-wide initiative focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2015.
McQuaid said the goal of global competency is to “demonstrate the knowledge, skills and perspectives necessary to understand the world and work effectively to improve it.” This is done not only by sending students abroad and recruiting students from other countries—both of which occur in large numbers at the University—but also by preparing students to go abroad and by working to integrate foreign students. Programs created by the dean’s office provide preparation seminars, assistance to faculty, and social opportunities for resident students from other countries.
Second, McQuaid played a short video depicting the impact on the University of the COVID-19 pandemic. The effects of the pandemic on students were both professional and personal. In January 2020, there were 6,005 international students on campus and 980 students departed for overseas programs. Within months, China, Korea, and Europe all shut down travel. By March 15, 1,000 University students returned to the U.S. from 67 countries, and many international students were stranded here because of travel restrictions.
Happily, these programs are coming back. Last spring, 200 students went overseas on University programs, and the international student population has rebounded to about 5,000 students.
Third, McQuaid spoke about the UMN Sustainable Development Goals Initiative. The U is a national leader in adopting the SDGs and integrating them into teaching and research across the University of Minnesota System. As she noted, these are unique goals because they are both local and international and are supported by private sector collaborations and by work with Aurora, a network of nine research universities in Europe.
We also learned that McQuaid would be one of the higher education representatives to participate in a trade mission led by Governor Tim Walz to the United Kingdom and Finland later in November.
Finally, in response to questions, McQuaid explained that she became interested in international matters as a result of several influences. These included participating in a language program in China shortly after the country opened up to foreign visitors in the late 1970s, and a 13-month, 36,000-mile around-the-world motorcycle trip she subsequently took with two American friends. These unique experiences fit neatly with her linguistics and law degrees from the University and helped to prepare McQuaid for her role as a University leader.
—Bill Donohue and Barbara Shiels, UMRA Program Committee members
At A Glance
Jan 25 2022 - 12:00pm
Feb 15 2022 - 11:00am
Feb 22 2022 - 12:00pm
The University of Minnesota Retirees Association’s response to COVID-19 developments is aligned with the University's Safe Campus guidelines.
Accordingly, all these events will be held via Zoom.
Meet UMRA member Jerry Rinehart, who retired as vice provost and dean of students, Twin Cities Campus. His first job was mowing lawn—at age 7. More …
UMRA member Mark Bohnhorst, together with Aviam Soifer, a constitutional law scholar and retired law school dean, has put forward a novel suggestion for how Congress could take action to protect the people’s right to vote for president. More …
UMRA member and Professor Emeritus John Romano received a “best paper” award from the American Psychological Association for his work emphasizing the importance of adapting prevention applications to ethnic and cultural groups. More …
A task force is exploring when to return to in-person monthly meetings, potential venues, the need for an event host committee, opportunities for member-proposed events, and public health COVID-19 restrictions. More …
Meet Mariann Tiblin, a 20-year member of UMRA who loves books, and proudly admits to alphabetizing her spices. More …
One of the gratifying things for UMRA in the difficult past year was that our special interest groups flourished. If you’re willing to organize and run a group or an event, UMRA can help by promoting your plans to the membership. More …
More than 500 U of M retirees, spouses, partners, and friends currently participate in virtual or on-site volunteer opportunities offered through the University Retirees Volunteer Center. More …
The UMRA Hiking Club is now an official UMRA special interest group. Our club motto is “hike for fun and fitness.” More …
An UMRA-URVC working group is looking at ways in which the two units could join forces to better serve retirees and the University community. More …
Head back to college through the University of Minnesota Alumni Association's Minne-College® and hear from some of the University of Minnesota's most exciting, innovative and ambitious faculty and staff. Minne-College® is open to all alumni and friends no matter your location! Join us virtually for the program from anywhere or in-person in Naples, Florida.