The University of Oklahoma will dedicate the newly renovated Hester Hall for the College of International Studies in a public ceremony scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday, April 17, at 729 Elm Ave.
“It is our obligation to educate and prepare students to live in a global environment,” said OU President David L. Boren. “The dedication of the new home for the College of International Studies underlines the determination of OU to be a true leader in this crucial area.”
The College of International Studies at OU was established in 1996 by Boren as the International Programs Center. The center was created to coordinate and promote international activities and programs; enhance the international content of the curriculum and degree programs; increase the university’s outreach on international matters in state, national and international arenas; and provide Oklahoma and the region with a greater voice in our country’s international relations.
The newly renovated building features the exterior renovation of the west façade, which is now the new front door of the college and houses a two-story lobby, elevator and open stair. Another addition to the west façade is a new three-story element, which was renovated to house the dean’s and staff offices and a quiet study area on the first floor. New faculty offices and small conference and seminar rooms are located on the second and third floors. The one-story element houses International Student Services and Education Abroad as well as three classrooms, a seminar room, a formal conference room and the college’s living room. In addition, two new stair towers were constructed to improve building circulation and enhance emergency egress.
Upon recommendation of Boren, the OU Regents named U.S. Ambassador Edward J. Perkins as the first executive director of the International Programs Center and as the William J. Crowe Chair Professor in Geopolitics. Perkins, who served in that capacity at OU for 11 years, had served previously as a U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, the Republic of South Africa, the United Nations and Australia. He also held the distinguished post of Director General of the Foreign Service.
In January 2011, the OU Board of Regents approved a recommendation to elevate international programs to a College of International Studies in response to growing student demand. At that time, Boren announced a $2 million lead gift from Tulsans L. Francis and Kathleen Rooney to launch a $14 million campaign for the new college.
Today the OU College of International Studies houses the Department of International and Area Studies, the Office of Education Abroad, the Office of International Student Services, the OU in Arezzo Study Center and a number of other international institutes and centers. Together, these offices, departments and centers work to provide a range of opportunities for students to learn about the global community in which they live.
The college offers undergraduate degree programs in Asian studies, European studies, international studies, international security studies, Latin American studies, Middle Eastern studies, and Russian and East European studies. The college also offers a Master of Arts in International Studies, which includes a global studies option and an area studies option. Students in the OU College of Law also have the option of pursuing a joint Juris Doctorate/Master of Arts in International Studies degree.
Since 2008, the number of OU students studying abroad has increased by 90 percent, from 640 to 1,219. Currently, one in four OU students study abroad during a four-year period.
OU currently offers programs in 82 countries and over 240 cities in six continents. One of OU’s most popular locations to study abroad is its program in Arezzo, Italy. With private support, OU purchased the Santa Chiara Monastery in Arezzo in 2010, which now serves as a European OU campus for more than 250 OU students and faculty-in-residence on a year-round basis. Two new study abroad programs modeled after OU in Arezzo are scheduled to open for student enrollment this summer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Puebla, Mexico.
In addition to increased numbers of students studying abroad, OU has seen an increase in its number of international students. In 2008, approximately 1,400 international students were enrolled at OU; today, nearly 1,800 international students from more than 120 countries are enrolled. Additionally, more than 300 international exchange students joined OU during 2013-2014 for a semester or academic year experience at OU.
The college has earned an international reputation for its innovative programs emphasizing the importance of a global education, and has graduates in highly successful professional practice throughout the nation and around the world.
Last year, OU was selected to serve as Secretariat – or lead coordinator – for the U.S. Department of State’s nationwide Diplomacy Lab program. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made the announcement at a town hall meeting, noting that the Diplomacy Lab allows students and faculty members to explore complex global challenges facing the State Department and to contribute to the policymaking process through their research projects. Faculty members from the OU College of International Studies and the College of Law supervise the students and their research.
For additional information about the dedication ceremony or accommodations on the basis of disability, call the Office of Public Affairs at (405) 325-3784.