2017 Heiskell Award Co-Winner: Internationalizing Minority Serving Institutions
Nomination submitted by: Dr. David Adewuyi, Director, Center for International Studies
Virginia Union University was established in 1865, primarily to serve newly freed slaves after the civil war, and over the last 150 years has served and nurtured thousands of first generation black students who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to participate in higher education. In 2010, the university established the Center for International Studies to provide leadership for the institution’s global initiatives, adopting “Institutionalizing Internationalization at VUU” as focal concept.
The board of trustees approved institutionalizing internationalization of all core curriculum courses in an attempt to ensure that all students, irrespective of their majors, are exposed to internationalized courses as soon as they matriculate. Every summer, at least 10 faculty members drawn from the 4 schools participate in professional workshops on how to internationalize existing courses or develop new internationalized courses across disciplines. Between 2010 and 2016, 55 faculty members have internationalized their courses, and as of the 2015/2016 academic year all general core curriculum courses and many others (66 courses in total) have been internationalized.
Not only are new and existing students exposed to internationalized courses, but faculty members whose courses are internationalized become ambassadors for promoting internationalization and globalization in their classes, including study away, study abroad, and virtual studies. Other activities of the Center, such as passport fairs, embassy tours in Washington, DC, and educational tours to other communities involve students, staff, faculty and the immediate community. The Center also founded and partially supports the International Students Association, which assists new international students to acclimatize quickly to the university and Richmond environment and organizes various academic and social events on campus.
The Center for International Studies has become a rallying point for all global initiatives of the institution, where all stakeholders seek and obtain professional information and assistance on issues of local, national, and international relevance to teaching, learning, and travel.
"It is the assertion of Virginia Union University that international education programs are the most effective high impact learning experience in fostering global citizenry. The programs of the Center for International Studies have enhanced and supported the strategic priorities of the institution: student success, academic excellence, community partnerships and institutional prominence. These strategic priorities ensure focused planning and deliberate actions by VUU to prepare graduates who will compete favorably in ever-expanding global and technological work place."
-Zakir Hossain, Vice President for Academic Affairs