As former interim Provost and current UConn School of Business Dean, I am very aware of the important role our international students play in the vibrant intellectual life of our community. Whether international students who learn here decide to stay in the United States, return to their country of origin, or become global citizens, we all learn and benefit from engaging with them. We are a country of immigrants and a deeply diverse student community enriches us all.
Larry Bacow, the President of Harvard University said it well: “Higher education in the United States seeks and attracts the best and the brightest students from around the world…They strengthen our universities immeasurably, and we aim to provide them with the best education possible — in a virtuous cycle that benefits all of us.”
The current pandemic has made life incredibly complicated for our international students. Some are suffering micro-aggressions in a community that mistakenly blames the pandemic on their country of origin. Some are experiencing untold angst related to travel. They wonder, “Will I be allowed to fly?” and “If I leave the USA, can I return?” At the same time, the shifting regulatory environment leads to both fear and uncertainty. Many students hoping to matriculate this fall in undergraduate, masters, and PhD programs were unable to secure the necessary visa to come to campus, and had to make the difficult decision of whether to study remotely online, or delay their attendance to a later date. Current international students often struggle to access course content virtually due to internet issues or because their home county bans certain online platforms. Distant time zones create middle-of-the-night class times and produce feelings of isolation and missing out on the Husky experience.
In addition to the reduced number of international students on campus, many of our students are lamenting the lack of international travel courses and study-abroad experiences. We too are deeply saddened by this. However, we are working hard to give students a global perspective with a number of new courses; hearing from and networking with international speakers (so much easier to connect with in the new virtual reality); and continuing our international case competitions in a virtual format. It is not the same as engaging in person but interacting with professionals and students from across the globe develops relationships and business skills virtually.
As UConn continues to manage through the pandemic by reducing class and dorm usage, requiring masks, testing relentlessly, and doing everything we believe is appropriate to keep our faculty, staff, and students safe, we remain committed to our international students. We miss learning with you in our classes, studying and relaxing with you in dorms, and greeting you across campus. It is important that you know we take seriously our mission to provide you with the high-quality UConn business education, despite the challenges and the distance. Finally, and just as importantly, we look forward to you joining us again soon.
Alumni Town Hall: Save the Date, December 9
With so many things different this year, it’s no wonder my colleagues and I are hearing the call from alumni to know what’s happening at UConn and the School of Business. Part “state of the school,” part discussion panel about topics that are timely and important to you, I’m pleased to announce that my friend and dean’s advisory cabinet member Corliss Montesi ‘86 will join me in hosting an Alumni Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, December 9, 1:00-2:00pm ET. She brings deep international experience to the conversation. Please save the date, plan to join, and we’ll be in touch with further details! But first, so we can tailor this program for you, please share what questions you’d like us to address and topics to discuss: just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to seeing you then!
Don’t Miss It: The Rosenberg – McVay Lecture, October 22
On Thursday October 22, The Theodore R. Rosenberg ’55 and Mary F. McVay Business Leadership Series proudly presents our flagship presentation of 2020: Embracing Change in Challenging Times, featuring our esteemed guest William S. Simon ’81, ’88 MBA. Former president and chief executive officer of Walmart U.S. and current senior advisor at KKR, Bill Simon knows leaders in virtually every industry must make decisions in a world where tomorrow might look nothing like today–and even less like yesterday. Please join us as Bill shares valuable insight on how to face these challenges head-on while not just surviving, but thriving. This virtual event will be held via Webex on October 22, Noon-1:00pm ET. Register today.
In closing…To our alumni and friends: I am delighted to invite you to join us in these and other rich experiences offered by the School of Business, and I welcome your feedback. To our international students: We miss you and hope to have you back on campus soon. I thank all of you for making the most of these unique and challenging circumstances as you pursue your best self.
John A. Elliott
Dean and Auran J. Fox Chair in Business