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Wofford sixth nationally for study abroad

Tommy Weber
2009-11-16

College’s ranking remains consistent over nearly 15 years

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – For nearly 15 years, Wofford College consistently has been recognized nationally as one of the top 10 colleges sending students abroad to study for credit. The latest Open Doors 2009 report, released today (Monday, Nov. 16, 2009), confirms the college’s commitment to its students becoming global citizens by ranking Wofford sixth among the nation’s top 40 baccalaureate institutions in the percent of students earning credit for studying abroad.

Wofford is the only South Carolina college included in the report that includes rankings of baccalaureate, master’s and doctorate institutions, published by the Institute of International Education. (For full data and information, go to http://opendoors.iienetwork.org/page/25072/.)

The college also is one of 23 colleges reporting sending more than 80 percent of their students abroad at one point during their undergraduate careers. Wofford has a 93.9 percent rating. Joining Wofford on the list of the top baccalaureate institutions are Centre College, ranked fourth, and Rhodes College at 34th.

Open Doors’ rankings are based on the number of students studying abroad and the number of degrees conferred, to get the estimated percentage of student participation in study abroad programs.

“We face an enormous and important challenge in preparing our nation’s future leaders for a globally connected, hyper-competitive and interdependent world,” says Dr. David S. Wood, dean of the college. “Our faculty, staff, and board of trustees have committed the institution to rising to meet such a challenge and our efforts have been reflected in these numbers over these years. Our faculty are to be commended for such innovative and bold approaches to enhancing the educational experience available at Wofford. Likewise, our students are to be congratulated for rising to confront the daunting task of engaging the world. Last year our students studied on seven continents in 34 different countries.”  (Read more about Wofford's International Program.)

Wofford has a number of programs that encourage and assist students wishing to study abroad, including scholarships and financial aid packages. Among those is the 21st Century Boarding Pass, in which a total of $20,000 is awarded to students planning to study in intensive language immersion programs during the January Interim. The grant program began in 2007 to encourage the study of foreign languages.

“We are successful in study abroad participation partly because of our intensive ongoing orientation program that includes thorough advising and various workshops and events,” says Amy Lancaster, assistant dean for academic administration and international programs. “We encourage students to set intercultural, linguistic, academic, and other personal goals to maximize their experience. We also stress reflection as part of the process, so students are regularly considering what they are learning while working toward a common goal of global citizenship.” (Read student reflections of their experiences and observations abroad at http://www.wofford.edu/internationalprograms/content.aspx?id=16540.)

In 2008, for the first time in Wofford’s history, the college had students studying on all seven continents, including two who went to Antarctica. During January 2010, more than 220 Wofford students will receive academic credit for overseas study studying various topics in Bonaire, South Africa, Namibia, Ecuador, Belize, Belgium, France, Spain, The Bahamas, China, Israel, Chile, Mexico, The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Greece.  (Read about Wofford's January Interim.)

Not only are Wofford students encouraged to study abroad, but thanks to college benefactor Roger Milliken, chairman of the international textile firm of Milliken & Co., based in Spartanburg, faculty members also are supported in their efforts to gain a world view.

Milliken has pledged $400,000 for Wofford faculty to participate in the Milliken Faculty Development Seminars Abroad. Thirteen faculty and staff members participated in 2009 in the first year of the five-year program, taking them to Buenos Aires, Argentina, for “Creating Citizens in the Americas” under the auspices of the Institute for the International Education of Students (IES).

Twenty faculty and staff members will travel to Shanghai, China, in 2010.

Wofford is celebrating International Education Week this week (Nov. 16-20) with a variety of activities, including a study abroad fair with participation from a number of providers, and presentations by Wofford alumni on their study abroad experiences.

Also, Wofford is one of the 16 host institutions for the sixth annual Forum on Education Abroad to be held at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte, N.C., March 24-26, 2010. The forum conference theme, "Vision and Value in Education Abroad,” takes up the central importance of creating and maintaining a compelling vision for education abroad while communicating its value. The conference will focus on articulating the vital nature of education abroad and the many benefits that it brings to students, organizations, institutions, communities and societies. Wofford faculty and staff will be leading two workshops at the conference.

For more on Wofford’s International Program, go to http://www.wofford.edu/internationalprograms/.