Simpson has recently hired Jay Wilkinson to be in charge of study abroad and international education to promote what he believes is an important part of the college’s education.
Wilkinson will work on creating new programs, sending students and faculty places they have not previously visited around the world and trying to make the experience more affordable.
“It is very encouraging to see so much interest in studying abroad,” Wilkinson said. “I don’t have to work real hard to encourage students to study abroad. They are already doing it. It’s really important for students to have an experience outside of this country.”
He will also serve as a resource for students and faculty, provide training for those participating in international education orientation programs, oversee safety and liability issues and perform a number of other duties associated with studying abroad.
Wilkinson has a good amount of experience with international education and Simpson College. He studied abroad during college, and his family has hosted a number of international students. His wife is also the new French faculty member at Simpson.
“Hiring Jay had nothing to do with him being married to the new French professor,” said John Bolen, registrar and associate dean. “It is a clear message to the campus community that Simpson College has from the top down a real commitment to making studying abroad available to all students.”
The need for this new position brought in a lot of candidates. There were more than 20 applicants. Four of the top five had graduate degrees, and all had a variety of experiences with international education. Bolen was impressed by the amazing competition for the part-time position and is encouraged by where international education is heading.
“We really looked for someone who had experience, someone who spoke a language other than English,” said Steve Griffith, vice president and dean for academic affairs. “Jay stood out as very passionate. The committee was very impressed. He has hit the ground running.”
Wilkinson’s responsibilities primarily concern program expansion. The administration would like to see more students studying abroad and would also like more semester-long programs. There is also a need to find a way to make international education more affordable.
The administration would like to see every student have the opportunity to study abroad at some point in his or her college experience. There is also a hope that some of the programs will be up and running this spring. These programs would help students prepare for their upcoming May Term trips.
A forum event was hosted Feb. 8 for students interested in studying abroad. It was well attended with around 100 people participating.
“No one should rule out study abroad,” Griffith said. “It shapes your life.”
Wilkinson encourages any students who have never thought about studying abroad to talk to him about the opportunity.
“It can be a real life-changing experience.” Wilkinson said.