Cornell’s first international office is expected to open in Shanghai in 2016, as part of a University-wide initiative to increase Cornell’s global presence and students’ accessibility of international programs to Cornell students, according to Laura Spitz JSD ’06, vice provost of international affairs.
“Opening a University office in Shanghai, China will create important momentum and signal that Cornell is committed to expanding its international footprint in important and strategic ways,” Spitz said.
The office will serve many roles, including convening conferences in Shanghai, recruiting students and maintaining connections with alumni, according to President Elizabeth Garrett.
With almost 1,200 alumni living in China, Cornell has strong ties to China, according to Spitz. Additionally, approximately 1,600 Chinese students have studied at Cornell, including approximately 500 undergraduate students, according to Spitz.
“Our many points of connection create an incredibly strong foundation for further engagement to ensure that our initiatives and programs related to China remain among the very best in higher education,” Spitz said. “The Shanghai office will belong to the entire Cornell community — students, faculty, alumni, staff, and researchers — and serve a wide range of academic and non-academic units.”
Decisions about staff and space for the Shanghai office are ongoing, according to Spitz. The Shanghai office is part of the Global Cornell initiative, which was formed to achieve Cornell’s goal to be a top 10 recognized research university internationally which was first articulated in the Cornell Strategic Plan 2010-2015.
“We are nearing the midway mark of a five-year Global Cornell Initiative,” Spitz said. “Our goals for the initiative have not changed from what was originally articulated by my predecessor, although I expect that as I spend time in the job, they will shift in certain ways. One example is my commitment to institutionalize greater integration with the Engaged Cornell initiative.”
The Global Cornell initiative has collaborated with Engaged Cornell and the University’s Diversity and Inclusion initiative in order to create a common application for travel grants, which launched this fall. This application combines 5 different grant applications, making the application process more streamlined and navigable for students who need grants in order to travel.
Additionally, Global Cornell has worked to increase inclusivity for international opportunities by launching a new grant program to provide financial support for undergraduate students for short-term international travel. This has helped grow international courses in countries such as Thailand, Zambia and Belize, according to a published summary highlighting and previewing Global Cornell initiatives.
“In 2014-2015 we doubled the amount of grant awardees who were able to travel as part of their coursework,” Spitz said.
Spitz said she hopes that under her tenure Global Cornell will increase Cornell’s international visibility not just through study abroad programs, but also through the creation of other international university offices like the one in Shanghai.
“We hope Shanghai will be the first of several such offices and with [the Cornell community’s] help we are ready to move forward aggressively in the world,” Garrett said in her Oct. 23 State of the University address.