Volume 4, Number 2; September 2012
Study Abroad Programs Continue to Advance at Texas Tech
Written and produced by Bob Smith, Tibor Nagy, Rachel Pierce, and Scott Irlbeck
“I could show pictures of me with the Pyramids, or Eiffel Tower, but like the monuments and the things you see while you're abroad, that's really secondary to . . . the intellectual journey that you take while you're abroad. . . . I think it's an interesting idea that students go thousands of miles away from everything they know to actually learn more about themselves . . . that's an interesting idea, but it's true.”
—Seth Sartain (1988- ), Spanish and chemistry major, 2012
“You learn so much about yourself when you're abroad. I was an independent student . . . my parents didn't pamper me. They didn't come with me. I didn't have any friends that went with me.”
—Jessica Stockford (1990- ), animal science major, 2012
Students Seth Sartain and Jessica Stockford reflect on their study abroad experiences.
Texas Tech University (TTU) made considerable progress in 2011-2012 developing study abroad opportunities for students. The opportunities also extend to TTU faculty members who dedicate considerable creativity and energy to making study abroad programs maximally beneficial to our students and the university. And, now that contributions to teaching involving active learning activities (such as study abroad) are formally acknowledged in TTU's Promotion and Tenure Policy and Procedures (OP 32.01) (Smith, 2012), there should be even greater incentives for faculty to consider participation in and contributions to study abroad programs. Thanks largely to faculty support, for the first time in TTU's history, close to 1,000 students have participated in study abroad programs during the 2011-2012 academic year. This article highlights some recent study abroad efforts that could have long-term benefits to the TTU academic community.
Reims and the Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne
The Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures (CMLL) has long supported study abroad programs in France for students majoring or specializing in French language, literature, and culture. This year, under the able direction of Associate Professor Carole Edwards (see also, Edwards, 2012), the CMLL French summer program was conducted in Reims (90 ninety miles northeast of Paris) with the cooperation of officials at Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne (URCA). The later institution provided high-quality gratis infrastructure support that assisted measurably in the overall quality of the program. Moreover, discussions by one of us with URCA officials, suggests broader opportunities for collaborations, which will be pursued during the next academic year. We salute Professor Edwards for spearheading this opportunity for TTU and its students and faculty members.
University of Arkansas Rome Center
A year's worth of discussions and planning have borne fruit relative to study abroad programs in Rome, Italy. Through a recently approved Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), TTU has become the fifth partner of the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) Rome Center (UA Rome Center) Consortium, joining Auburn and Louisiana State Universities, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Philadelphia Philadelphia University. During a recent visit to the UA Rome Center, one of us had the opportunity to tour the recently acquired facilities in the Palazzo Taverna, which is within ready walking distance to Vatican City. The early nineteenth-century quarters of the UA Rome Center are spacious, elegantly decorated with copies of classic Roman frescos, and outfitted with modern telecommunications infrastructure and equipment—all overlooking a thirteenth-century courtyard complete with fountain (UA Rome Center, 2012). During the next three months, Ambassador Nagy will be heading a committee to vet a solicited group of proposals for study abroad programs at the UA Rome Center beginning in calendar 2013. The UA Rome Center director (Davide Vitale), in talks this summer, welcomed such a prospect and is enthusiastic about TTU's recent affiliation with the center.
In a related development, one of us had the privilege of joining TTU Visiting Assistant Professor Corby Kelly and a group of eighteen classics students who visited Rome at the same time that discussions were being held with UA Rome Center officials. We are grateful to Professor Kelly and his efforts to craft a six-week joint study abroad program involving study in Rome (two weeks) and in England and Scotland at Hadrian's Wall (four weeks), where participating TTU students had a chance to engage in archaeological excavations that are supervised by CMLL Assistant Professor Chris Whitmore. It is also gratifying to report that while in Rome, Professor Kelly's students were treated to an art tour organized by an outstanding art historian (Emilio Del Gesso) associated with the UA Rome Center.
Prague and Programs Affiliated with the State University of New York
In August, Provost Smith and UNYP President Elias Foutis signed a reciprocal agreement that aims to encourage the exchange of students and to foster faculty research alliances between their institutions.
TTU has held study abroad programs in Prague, Czech Republic, for more than eight years. The Rawls College of Business Administration (COBA) was the pioneer in this effort, headed by Associate Professor John Masselli. But recently COBA faculty members and students have joined with their counterparts from the Colleges of Architecture and Visual and Performing Arts (VPA). During a recent visit to Prague, one of us had an opportunity to meet and sign an MOU with officials of the University of New York (UNY) in Prague for enhanced collaborations and partnerships. The UNY system (officially the New York College Education Group) supports campuses in Athens, Prague, Thessaloniki (Greece), and Tirane (Albania) (with evolving programs in Belgrade, Serbia, and in Tiblisi, Georgia) and offers accredited programs through the State University of New York (SUNY) via Empire State College. Our conversations both with UNY and SUNY colleagues suggest possibilities for enhanced exchanges (across the European campuses and TTU) and joint degree programs for undergraduate students. These possibilities will be further discussed during the forthcoming months, with faculty shared-governance groups (e.g., Colleges, Academic Council, Faculty Senate).
We would like to thank Professor John Masselli who expertly guided arrangements in Prague—arrangements that were assisted not only by another COBA faculty member (including Associate Professor Bob McDonald) and staff (International Administrative Director Archie Pitsilides), but also faculty members from architecture (Assistant Professor Rima Alijuni and Professor Elizabeth Louden) and VPA (Associate Professor of Theatre Linda Donahue).
University of Surrey
During the summer of 2011, one of us had a chance to visit the University of Surrey, a little over thirty miles southwest of London and only twenty minutes away from the capital city by rail. Led by the recently knighted and eminent engineering professor, Sir Christopher Snowden (vice chancellor and president), the university has been ranked among the top fifteen higher education institutions in the United Kingdom and supports outstanding faculty and programs in areas as diverse as biosciences, chemistry, economics, sociology, and tourism, along with civil engineering (especially water research), among others, and including Faculties of Arts and Human Sciences; Business, Economics and Law; Engineering and Physical Sciences; and Health and Medical Sciences. The campus offers a beautifully bucolic setting in Guilford near Wimbledon.
We are now pleased to announce that the University of Surrey will become a key study abroad site for TTU students and faculty members through a critical faculty hire in the College of Arts & Sciences. Peter Barta, chair in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies at Surrey during the past twelve years, has rejoined the TTU community as tenured professor in CMLL beginning this fall. Professor Barta will be involved in teaching, research, and outreach on the Lubbock campus each fall but then each spring will teach in and help coordinate study abroad for TTU students at the University of Surrey. This arrangement builds on the special privileges accorded Professor Barta as a former Chair at Surrey and a special relationship that is emerging between TTU and the University of Surrey through the good offices of President and Professor Sir Christopher Snowden.
We look forward to collaborations among the CMLL and other departments in the College of Arts & Sciences along with additional TTU collegiate units, and the Office of International Affairs, through Ambassador Nagy, as new opportunities are uncovered for study abroad at the University of Surrey.
One of the oldest and spectacularly beautiful nations in the world, yet in recent decades the one most frequently associated with the ravages of conflict and underdevelopment, Ethiopia is making great strides in establishing a modern university system to incorporate its very young population into nation building. In just ten years this country of 100 million people, twice the size of Texas, has grown its higher education system from three national universities to thirty-one, covering all regions and major urban centers. We recently participated with seven other US institutions in site visits to Addis Ababa, Bahar Dar, Axum, and Mekelle to explore study abroad and other collaborative opportunities with some of these pioneering universities. One of them, Mekelle University, which was started at the base of a tree with a handful of students in 1990 when Ethiopia's ex-Communist dictator was overthrown, now boasts over 30,000 students and a full range of colleges matching that of TTU. Mekelle has hosted groups of TTU Health Sciences Center (HSC) medical students for several short-term programs, which allowed the HSC students to view cases they would never see during their entire careers in the US. This summer Dr. Gad Perry from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources used Mekelle as his base for teaching a session of "Tropical Ecology and Conservation" (NRM 4324). Dr. Perry's students spent three weeks with Ethiopian students traveling to all parts of the country—an unequaled learning and cultural experience. We now hope to develop additional "study abroad" options with some of Ethiopia's other emerging universities, which will similarly benefit our students and their Ethiopian hosts.
In summary, the future for study abroad at TTU continues to develop and improve as our faculty and staff work together on expanded projects and new locations. As always, please let us know what you think, either through e-mail or snail mail. If you craft a thought-provoking piece, we'll consider it for publication in All Things Texas Tech (http://www.depts.ttu.edu/provost/attt/). Ideas and suggestions are always welcome and can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
- Edwards, Carole. "French Language and Culture Study Abroad: Reims, France-2012." All Things Texas Tech 4 (2) 2012; http://www.depts.ttu.edu/provost/attt/2012/09/edwards.php.
- Smith, Bob. "Integrated Scholars: You Will Find Many at Texas Tech." All Things Texas Tech, 1 (2), September 2009; http://www.depts.ttu.edu/provost/attt/2009/09/integratedscholar.php.
- Smith, Bob and Katie Allen. "Texas Tech Integrated Scholars 2010." All Things Texas Tech 2 (2) 2010; http://www.depts.ttu.edu/provost/attt/2010/09/integratedscholars.php.
- Smith, Bob, Katie Allen, and Scott Irlbeck. "Texas Tech Integrated Scholars 2011." All Things Texas Tech 3 (2) 2011; http://www.depts.ttu.edu/provost/attt/2011/09/integratedscholars.php.
- Smith, Bob. "A Letter to Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty." All Things Texas Tech 4 (2) 2012; University of Arkansas Rome Center, 2012; http://www.arkrome.it/.
About the Authors
Bob Smith serves as provost and senior vice president at Texas Tech University.
Ambassador Tibor Nagy serves as vice provost for international affairs at Texas Tech University.
Rachel Pierce and Scott Irlbeck are senior editors of research and academic communications at Texas Tech University.