From the University President

Creating global citizens

Interconnected world means an even deeper commitment to international education

John B. Simpson

John B. Simpson
President, University at Buffalo

SITUATED ON A BINATIONAL BORDER, UB has been an international university from the very beginning of our 160-year history. Since the first international student enrolled at UB in 1847, the year after our founding, to the present day, when our international enrollment has grown to more than 4,000 students representing more than 100 nations, international education has always been a vital part of UB’s identity.

Indeed, UB’s international composition has never been more dramatically in the spotlight than it has been this year, and I have taken numerous personal opportunities to reflect on our stature as a global institution in recent months. This fall, shortly after we were honored here by a historic three-day visit by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I had the opportunity to make my first trip to China, where I traveled with a university delegation to commemorate the 25th anniversary of UB’s exchange programs with three universities in Beijing. In November, I returned to Asia once again, this time traveling as part of a delegation led by U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who invited 12 U.S. higher education leaders to accompany her on a history-making educational development trip to Japan, Korea and China.

While I was overseas, I was delighted to receive the news that UB now ranks tenth among 2,700 accredited U.S. universities and colleges in number of international students. This year, in fact, international students comprise 15 percent of our total student body.

UB is committed to seeking out opportunities for academic exchange, collaboration and dialogue across national and cultural borders. By building lasting diplomatic ties, internationally focused institutions like UB help contribute to a global culture characterized by mutual understanding, cooperation and international goodwill.

UB seeks to prepare our students to contribute meaningfully to this global world, both through study abroad experiences, as well as through their exposure to different viewpoints and cultures via our multinational community of scholars and international curricula. These goals—always central to UB’s vision as a public research university serving an international community—have perhaps never been more significant than they are today, when technological developments and a rapidly evolving global economy are making our world increasingly interconnected. Colleges and universities across the U.S. recognize more than ever that our students simply must be globally aware citizens in order to succeed, wherever they work and live.

We have a great deal to learn from our counterparts overseas. As I observed in my recent travels to Asia, as well as to central and western Europe, many of our peer institutions are far ahead of the U.S. in terms of their study abroad programs and the foreign language acquisition and cultural fluency they encourage in their students.

Already, more than 10 percent of our undergraduates study abroad as part of their academic experience, and our students can participate in more than 50 bilateral exchange programs with leading institutions around the world. Yet we are committed to creating even more opportunities for cultural fluency, crossnational education and academic exchange in the future.

By coming to the U.S. to study at UB, international students participate in a highly multicultural learning environment, and they benefit from their interactions with students from around the world. In turn, international students share their language and culture with domestic students, and help them to become acquainted with the larger world. Our international alumni, who live in more than 120 nations, likewise are valuable resources for UB and our students, serving as ambassadors for the university across the globe, and helping to connect UB more vitally to the educational communities we serve around the world.

John B. Simpson

President, University at Buffalo