Campus / News / February 1, 2012

Supporting across boundaries

In the past, international students have been without a year-round designated school official to help in the Student Development Office. By next year, this will not be the case after a new Director of International Student Services is brought to Knox.

Dean of Students Debbie Southern hopes to get a jump on the search for the first director and have the post filled by the beginning of next school year or earlier if possible.

“I hope the new director is someone who pulls people together and gets people to think in a different way,” Southern said.

Prior to this year, the Director of International Student Advisement, Cathy Walters, provided coverage for international students for ten months of the year, leaving December and a month in the summer without coverage.

While this gap caused no major problems, it could have become problematic, Southern believes.

“I just feel like student development needs a 12-month coverage for DSO [Designated School Official]; we need to be helpful to the international students with the documentation sort of issues,” Southern said.

This summer, Walters left for active duty, and instead of just finding coverage during her service, Southern decided to create a new post in hopes of providing year-round coverage and solidifying some of the help scattered throughout campus.

“I want to hire someone with student development background, a person who can help create a Center for Intercultural Life. We have a Center for Intercultural Life, but I don’t know if it operates like a center the way we would like it to operate,” Southern said.

The school put together a quick search last summer, but wasn’t satisfied with the results, due in part to not enough thought put into what the duties of the post required.

“I hadn’t really thought through everything that I needed to do,” Southern said. “At the end of the day it was hard to tell the search committee that we were going to start over, but I think that it was the best thing to do.”

The interim International Student Coordinator Tim Schmeling ‘11 has been filling in while Walters has been serving active duty and has learned a lot over the past few months.

Schmeling hopes the new director will be in constant direct contact with international students and “work to bring more visibility to the Center for Intercultural Life.”

“With admissions trends being what they are, we are going to be having a higher percent of minority and international students, and we need to be better understanding or receptive … [The campus] also need[s] to realize that [international students] are here and they can’t pretend that they are not, which is what I have noticed while working with international students,” Schmeling said.

Schmeling has been given a strong roll in the search committee, due to his interim job and his direct interactions with the current student body.

“According to the search committee, I have the strongest hand on the pulse of the international student life and I would be best able to see how a potential candidate’s personality would mesh with the multitude of international students that this school has,” Schmeling said.

The search, which is being led by Director of Counseling Services Dan Larson, will use job banks and hopes to see candidates with higher education, international student, DSO and liberal arts experience. The group hopes to have a new Director by July 1, but could hire sooner if the right candidate is found.

John Williams

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