Peter McPherson, president of Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), gave advice about how to internationalize K-State while lauding what has already been done at the university Friday.
He spoke as a part of the 2012 Provost’s Distinguished International Lecture Series, presented by the university’s International Activities Council.
McPherson is an expert on the topic of internationalization, spending time as the head of the United States Agency for International Development from 1981 to 1987. He also served as Michigan State University president from 1993 to 2004.
McPherson said it is important to further internationalize the campus for the students, research, and to help the university, state and the world. “Public universities, including land-grants, have to be a part of it,” he said.
McPherson said the goal of internationalization isn’t to treat it as a separate entity, but to have it represented throughout the university. He said internationalization can be represented through things such as research, faculty, curriculum and international students.
“It’s not just the international offices,” he said. “It cuts across the whole university. It is, I think, very wise for the president and the provost to have internationalize a theme in the 2025 plan.”
K-State 2025, the stated goal of the university to become a top 50 public research university by 2025, includes the common element of internationalization with all of its themes.
McPherson said the vision of K-State 2025 will help the university in its pursuit of internationalization. “I’m completely convinced that campuses that don’t have a plan don’t go nearly as far,” he said.
McPherson used the example of how Michigan State built its study abroad program into the largest among public universities in the nation. Thanks in part to his efforts, Michigan State expanded its study abroad program from 700 students a year to 3,000 students a year.
McPherson said campus should select one key component to drive and measure. In Michigan State’s case, study abroad became that driving point.
“I said, ‘Why don’t we have a big goal?’ ” he said. In 1995, Michigan State set a goal to have 40 percent of its graduating seniors participate in the program by 2006.
McPherson talked about the importance of publicizing the goal, including media coverage. He said he pushed to make clear the expectations the university had for the students; it never became a requirement, he said.
“When they got there (to MSU), they knew they were supposed to study abroad,” he said.
During the question and answer portion of the lecture, Provost April Mason asked McPherson how K-State can use its APLU membership to increase internationalization.
“Leveraging that means aggressively looking for the opportunities,” McPherson said.
K-State has been making its efforts to establish an international connection through international faculty and staff, study abroad programs, and relationships with countries such as China.