Trustees Commit To ‘Study Abroad’ as Part of Arcadia’s Global Leadership

By Purnell T. Cropper | March 9, 2012

The Board of Trustees of Arcadia University, nationally recognized as a leader in study abroad and a pioneer in global education, voted unanimously on March 2 to add a unique trustee responsibility: to go overseas themselves and observe firsthand what makes Arcadia global education truly unique.

Seven trustees embark this weekend to observe the annual spring trek of Arcadia’s freshmen and new transfer students around the world on signature “Preview” courses, visiting 3 of the 21 locations—Cuba, Ireland and Mexico.

The resolution establishes the expectation that all term trustees (those elected to a four-year term) will participate in a University-sponsored overseas Global Leadership Exploration within the first three years of their terms; all other trustees (for example, those representing constituent groups and serving ex officio) are encouraged to do likewise. The trustees will be paying their own expenses on these Global Leadership Explorations.

To satisfy this responsibility, the trustees can participate in a “Preview,” go on one of the two overseas experiences in Arcadia’s MBA with a Global Perspective, or accompany faculty and students on interdepartmental study experiences. Before they go, they must attend some of the academic classes that precede the students’ overseas experience; and afterwards they, like the students, must participate in a “reflective exercise,” applying what they have learned to their lives as U.S. citizens.

“As trustees, we represent our University to the business and civic communities, here and abroad,” says Margaret Wright Steele ’80, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “We are all very proud of the international reputation we have earned for the quality of our global education. And I am very proud of my colleagues for taking it upon themselves to be personal witnesses to that quality. They recognized that we can best execute our duties if we have been directly exposed to, and engaged in, the pedagogy of global education.”

“I also want to thank our trustees for fully funding 18 scholarships for students who would otherwise have been unable to participate in Preview this year,” noted President Carl (Tobey) Oxholm III. “People do not recognize that 38 percent of our students receive Pell Grants, and 32 percent will be the first in their families to graduate from college. Giving them this experience of learning about other peoples and cultures in those other lands is life-changing. Speaking on behalf of the faculty and staff, we are enormously proud of our trustees, and thankful for their leadership.”

Eighty-two percent of the Class of 2011 seniors used their passports while at Arcadia, and all undergraduates are required to immerse themselves in another culture—usually abroad. More than 50,000 students from universities across the nation have studied abroad through Arcadia programs over the last six decades. Arcadia currently has three U.S. campuses and is teaching 120 academic programs in 75 cities in 22 countries around the world.

Arcadia was the first university to put a large group of its freshmen on a plane to London, beginning its popular “Preview” program in 1994 to introduce students to the idea of studying abroad over spring break. “Now two-thirds of our first year students, along with many of our transfer students, participate in global learning experiences in more than a dozen Preview locations each spring,” says Oxholm. “It’s an Arcadia tradition treasured by alumni and students.”

The trustees will observe lectures, fieldwork, museum visits and other experiential learning—as well as learn firsthand about the health, safety and logistical needs in moving so many students, faculty and staff around the world. Preview 2012 includes 362 students and 46 faculty and staff in 21 courses including Cuba, Israel, Mexico, Germany and China.

“We have had an International Programs Committee that has visited our programs abroad, but this resolution expresses our intent that all of our trustees observe students and programs abroad,” says Steele, a 1980 alumna. “As we become a truly global university, it is a natural but critical next step for Arcadia that the Board of Trustees should make global experience an integral part of trustee engagement.”