International News from CU Denver | CU Anschutz
Message From Alana C. Jones, Interim Vice Provost/Senior Vice Chancellor for Student Success and Michelle Larson-Krieg, Interim Executive Director, Office of International Affairs
Greetings from the Office of International Affairs. For the entire CU Denver | CU Anschutz community, 2020 has been a year unlike any other in recent history. Safety has been the priority for all of the university’s activities. As such, students, faculty, and staff have all collaborated to uphold safety protocols, alter modes of academic engagement, and think differently about experiential opportunities. For the Office of International Affairs (OIA) and our constituents, our efforts this year have included:
- suspending international recruitment travel and shifting focus to virtual recruitment activities as necessary;
- suspending study abroad programs and shifting to virtual global engagement programs;
- working with our international partners and university colleagues to best meet our partnership objectives during a challenging time;
- actively engaging our international students and international scholars in the virtual environment to maintain their connection to the university;
- reinforcing the institution’s core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion through increased advocacy for international students and scholars and internal office workshops in social justice;
- strategically utilizing international scholarship funds to keep international students on their academic path;
- leveraging our staff member in China to recruit students and build partnerships;
- and working with international students and international scholars on the best options to maintain their visa status.
Obviously, all of these changes have taken a great deal of time, energy, and effort during a period when we all had to make personal adaptations as well. Yet, through it all, OIA has been thrilled with the partnership and collaboration with university faculty, staff, and students to adapt to our reality with innovation and engagement.
“One big disappointment is that many of our international students have been unable to return. We want them back. They’re a vital and treasured part of our campus presence, and we really miss them.”
— CU Denver Chancellor Michelle Marks
While 2020 has been challenging and spring 2021 will undoubtedly bring additional challenges, we see an even stronger future for International Affairs at CU Denver and CU Anschutz. We have premier academic programs that attract excellent international students, international scholars, and international partners. Our faculty are committed to leading impactful and meaningful study abroad programs. We have leadership on both campuses committed to internationalization. And we have a team that remains committed to the global impact of CU Denver and CU Anschutz. Thank you for your partnership and your commitment to internationalization. We wish you a peaceful, safe, and healthy season.
“This has also been a year in which the strength of our community, and the “why” of our work, have shone brightly through the darkness. As we move forward together, it is that strength and shared commitment that will illuminate our path.”
— CU Anschutz Chancellor Don Elliman
New Scholarships Available for International Students
There’s good news about scholarships for international students seeking enrollment into CU Denver. New undergraduate, ESL Academy, and partner scholarship opportunities were created for 2019/2020, which totaled a combined $187,000. International Admissions, in partnership with Financial Aid & Scholarships, manages a framework of scholarships to make effective use of awarding these funds to qualified students. The scholarship plan offers ten first-year international student scholarships annually in varying amounts, repeating for four years. The highest amount provides 50% of a student’s tuition and fees. In FY20 through FY22, one-time scholarships have been made available for transfer students, students in 3 + 1 + 1 partnership programs, and ESL Academy graduates.
In response to the COVID-19 global pandemic and related travel restrictions, special scholarships and funding for international students were made available for a total of $370,00, Fall 2020/Spring 2021. Continuing support grants were provided to help eligible enrolled international students in Denver who were in need, to enable them to continue staying and studying at CU Denver | Anschutz.
A Fall 2020 Lynx Online Scholarship was created for eligible newly admitted undergraduate international students and international graduate students who enrolled full-time in online and/or remote courses and confirmed their intention of coming to Denver in Spring 2021 to attend classes on campus. The individual scholarships, $5,000 for undergraduate and $2,500 for graduate students, provided a savings of 35% on tuition for one semester, and students did not need to delay their program start. A total of $40,000 was awarded to eleven international students through Lynx-Online scholarships. Students could choose from more than 2,000 courses that were offered via Online and Remote instructional modes. Scholarships were limited to students who were not receiving funding from their government or sponsoring agencies and were based on eligibility requirements and a first-come-first-serve basis. Discussions are underway about international student scholarships for Spring 2021.
A $5,000 ICB Graduate Fellowship from the Office of International Affairs and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is awarded annually to an outstanding International College Beijing student or alumnus/a who continues into graduate studies at CU Denver.
Many study abroad scholarships are available for American students, including the Global Study Scholarship, Global Crossroads Scholarship, and numerous externally-funded scholarships. In total, $179,300 in scholarships was awarded to CU Denver students from internal and external sources, Fall 2018-Spring 2019.
Creating OIA Virtual Services & Reinforcing University’s Safe Return
“We are experiencing such an unprecedented time and the Office of International Affairs, as well as staff and faculty in other departments at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz, have been making lots of efforts to help me and other students,” explained International Business student Vy, who temporarily returned to Vietnam to complete her semester remotely due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
A recipient of the International Freshmen Scholarship, Vy has been committed to keeping up her 4.0-grade average. “They helped us maintain the high quality of remote learning, and then assisted me with any possible problem I had, especially regarding the immigration concerns in this pandemic time.”
As the full impact of the 2020 worldwide epidemic disrupted studies, research, and every aspect of daily life, the Office of International Affairs (OIA) and CU Denver | Anschutz jumped into action and took proactive measures following local and national guidelines to ensure the health and safety of their communities.
OIA had prepared and launched OIA Virtual Services on day one of the university’s shift to remote teaching and learning. Using the office live chat feature, 1:1 Zoom appointments, website updates, and informational webinars, OIA’s staff and international student assistants continued to provide virtual “walk-in” services and support remotely. Questions and answers covered a range of topics about travel, visas, employment, immigration, and other areas of importance to international students and scholars, including updates for those who chose to stay in Colorado or the U.S. and those who opted to return home temporarily.
International Student and Scholar Services‘ staff ensured timely responses to immigration documents requests that international students need to continue and complete their academic journey, including engaging in employment opportunities in the U.S. “I have received my OPT I-20 and really appreciate the fast response and all the hard work the international student office has put into handling student requests amidst the Corona crisis; you guys are doing a great job,” commented Rohan, a master’s student in Computer Science.
The strong sense of community that had been established in person continued and expanded by moving online. OIA’s staff and Global Student Ambassadors hosted international student weekly game nights and ongoing game leagues, morning online wake ups with friends that brought information about “good things happening in the world,” cooking tips, remote working and learning tips, remote study halls, movie nights featuring top movies from around the world, hosted online conversation cafes, and an open chat box with the OIA designates.
In addition to the CU Denver and CU Anschutz virtual commencement ceremonies, OIA hosted a special International Student Virtual Graduation Celebration. Forty people joined the Zoom event from a variety of countries and time zones. One Kuwaiti student commented that it was 4:00 AM in his country, but that didn’t stop him from rising early and donning his graduation cap to join in the online festivities with his friends and classmates.
“It takes a creative mind and an innovative attitude to succeed on your educational journey,” said Keynote Speaker Alana Jones, Interim Vice Provost/Senior Vice Chancellor for Student Success at CU Denver | Anschutz. “You’ve met and overcome immense challenges, especially during this unusual year — and you’ve come out strong. Each of you is truly an academic hero or heroine.”
The temporary curtailment of international travels caused by the pandemic also impacted studies abroad. The university’s Global Education: Study Abroad office responded by rolling out an exciting series of virtual study abroad and internship opportunities that allowed students to learn online in fifteen different locations worldwide, covering the fields of business, communication, languages, global health, literature, arts, international relations, psychology, and more. Through these programs, which are continuing, students can safely and affordably learn abroad or engage in valuable internships with corporations and organizations while earning college credits. For students considering taking an onsite study abroad program in the future, when normal travel can be resumed, these virtual opportunities provide additional insights and preparation.
As official stay-at-home directives continued, International Admissions further implemented customized ways to meet international students’ needs and interests. Another new series of webinars was launched to directly answer admitted, conditionally admitted, and enrolled international student questions as they pursued studies in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021.
Throughout the summer, CU Denver and CU Anschutz developed comprehensive plans for the implementation of Safe Return in Fall 2020. The university evolved best practices and continues to keep students, faculty, and staff healthy and safe and enhance their educational journeys. More course formats were developed that retain the same high-quality instruction but offer various flexible delivery options, including a mix of on-campus, remote, online, and hybrid classes.
As part of the new, streamlined CU Denver Student Journey online experience, the newly-built International Admissions website was launched. It makes the process much easier for international students as they search for information about programs, including STEM-OPT eligible programs, scholarships, application, and enrollment at CU Denver | Anschutz and information about the ESL Academy (English as a Second Language).
International travel is a key element of international student recruitment. When CU Denver transitioned to an all-virtual environment in March, two International Admissions (IA) staff members were in Latin America for recruitment activities. COVID-19 forced the team to pivot to virtual recruiting quickly. This brought challenges, including time zone differences between Denver and key international markets that required staff to conduct webinars in the middle of the night. However, virtual recruitment also provided several excellent opportunities.
Between April 1 and September 30, 2020, International Admissions team members participated in 40 virtual events. These included agent-organized webinars, large virtual fairs with “booth” presentations, live video and text chats, and one-on-one drop-in advising. These efforts resulted in 3,558 interactions and 13,681 leads. By the end of Fall 2020, the team will have participated in virtual events targeting all core markets (India, China, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia), all growth markets (Mexico and South Korea, for example), and many “diversity” markets (countries that traditionally have not yielded as many applicants).
The words of support for international students and scholars and the daily actions taken by the Office of International Affairs and leadership, faculty, and staff on both the CU Denver and CU Anschutz will be remembered.
As a graduating student, Vatsal commented at OIA’s International Student Virtual Graduation Celebration: “You may look back and be proud to say you were able to be in the class that graduated during this historic global pandemic.”
Whether international students have chosen to attend Fall 2020 CU Denver | Anschutz classes on campus or remotely from their home country and travel to Denver for Spring or Fall 2021, they know that they are always welcome here.
Beyond the Classroom Opportunities: Study Abroad & LynxConnect
A High Impact Practice, Global Education: Study Abroad benefits students in multiple ways. National research shows that studying abroad positively affects students’ academics, graduation rates, and employment prospects.
With the opening of CU Denver’s LynxConnect, OIA’s Global Education: Study Abroad team joined their colleagues in Experiential Learning, Undergraduate Research, and the Career Center at their new location in the Tivoli building. Through synergies within the four offices, students are able to connect and enhance their learning experiences that go beyond the classroom, as well as prepare for future careers.
In March 2020, former diplomat and U.S. Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray joined the university community as the Director of Global Education within the Office of International Affairs, serving both the Denver campus and the Anschutz campus. Ambassador Ebert-Gray was a career employee with the U.S. State Department for three decades, and her most recent appointment was U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. Prior to service as an ambassador, Catherine served in a number of senior State Department positions including service at U.S. missions in Egypt, Australia, Togo, Papua New Guinea, Germany, Mali, The Philippines, and Morocco. As Deputy Assistant Secretary in Washington, she closely supported U.S.G operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Ebert-Gray is passionate about global engagement and has brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the university and its business partners. She is available to meet with students who are interested in foreign policy or international careers. Ebert-Gray communicates regularly with colleagues in posts around the world, which has aided in obtaining the latest information relevant to travel and risk management planning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her enthusiasm about the value of study abroad experiences as being integral to a student’s educational journey helped in fostering new program development and in reinforcing and expanding ongoing programs. These include the promotion of new virtual programs as well as planning for 2021 on-location programs as travel restrictions ease.