International Studies & Programs

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Information about the history of education abroad at MSU from the early 1900's has been compiled from a variety of resources including interviews with former directors, MSU-internal historical materials, and national publications. It's presented within the context of national education abroad trends.

You can also view a list of our directors past and present Directors - Past and Present.

1910 to 1949

National Context

Early post-war study abroad begins by the University of Delaware in 1923, followed by Smith College (1925) and Mount Holyoke College (1926); two other kinds of American student-abroad programs appear at this time – overseas branches of American universities begin with the opening of Marymount's Paris branch in 1923, Rosary's Fribourg branch in 1925, and Marymount's Rome branch in 1930 (Weidner, 1962). The junior-year abroad to Europe concept flourishes from 1920 to 40s.

Council on International Educational Exchange begins in 1947 followed by NAFSA: Association of International Educators in 1948.

With the passage of the Fulbright Act in 1946, a framework for education and exchange between U.S. and many other countries begins, which ushered in a wave of faculty going abroad (Garraty & Adams, 1959; Rodman, 2005).


1910 saw the establishment of the Cosmopolitan Club, which offered international and domestic students an opportunity to interact and learn from each other (Rodman).

In 1943 the Institute of Foreign Studies established by President Hannah promotes international content in courses (Rodman).

Centrally located at the heart of the campus, the International Center opens in 1944 as a gathering place for international students (Rodman). Dr. Shao Chang Lee forms the International Club the same year. By the end of the decade, Michigan State ranks sixth among land-grant colleges for international student enrollment.

1950 to 1979

National Context

In the 1950s and 60s, the government invests in faculty-led training and research begins on the academic rigor of programs overseas as compared to the U.S.

Study abroad grows rapidly at the rate of 15 to 20 programs a year nationwide (Weidner, 1962).

In 1958, the National Defense Education Act influenced by the Soviet launch of the satellite Sputnik in 1957 propels Congress to authorize funding for more students to attend universities and the fever of internationalization to take-off.

In the mid -1950s, there is a historical shift from the traditional European junior-year-abroad language and culture programs to more study abroad offerings with curricular emphases for semester-long durations (Hoffa, 2007).

In 1975, Title XII of the Foreign Assistance Act passes, strengthening the connection between USAID and universities (Rodman, 2005).


MSU helps to establish universities overseas, i.e., the University of Ryukyus on Okinawa, Japan in 1951, and the University of Nigeria at Nsukka in 1960 (Hannah, 1964; NAFSA, 2006).

In the late 1950s, the Foreign Student Advisor's Office (later named Office for International Students and Scholars) is established (Rodman, 2005).

John Hannah, installed as MSU's 12th president in 1956, establishes an international vision for MSU: "MSU is a university not only for the people of Michigan but also for the world" (Hannah, 1964). He appoints the first dean of International Studies Program, Glen Taggart, who holds a unique administrative position unseen in major U.S. universities at the time (Rodman).

In 1959, the Community Volunteers for International Programs establishes as a support service for international students and families (Rodman, 2005).

The MSU African Studies Center establishes in 1960 and is one of nine Title VI National Resource Centers on Africa designated by the U.S. MSU becomes a leading center of African experience and knowledge among American universities (Smuckler, 2003).

In the early 1960s, MSU helps with the planning and implementation of the U.S. Peace Corps (Rodman, 2005).

Various Regional and Thematic Centers open:

1962 Asian Studies Center

1963 Latin American Studies Center

1978 Women and International Development

1978 Western European Studies Program

Study Abroad

In the 1950s, faculty members are encouraged to develop and lead programs. By the 1960s and 1970s, there is an expansion of disciplines in faculty-led programs.

The Office of Overseas Study establishes in 1970 as a unit of the Office of International Extension in the Continuing Education Service; eventually the unit is renamed the Office of Study Abroad.

Charles Gliozzo becomes Director in 1973. The office is staffed with a director, a coordinator, an office secretary, and a receptionist.

In the 1970s, a collaboration between the offices of Financial Aid and Study Abroad helps increase the enrollment of MSU students in study abroad.

In the 1970s, program evaluation begins and mainly focuses on participant satisfaction.

1980 to 1989

National Context

Discussions on foreign language training and ACTFL standards begin in the 1980s. The rhetoric in study abroad discusses the changing global economy and the need for more business and economics students to have a greater understanding of the world (Woodruff, 2009).

Research on attitude and behavior in study abroad begins during this time.

The U.S. invests efforts in understanding other nationals and the world systems better in order to respond intelligently and in a timely manner to changes in the world order (Wiley, 1982).

Institutional linkages became the "buzz word" in the industry - U.S universities define 'institutional linkages' as various ways which open up opportunities for faculty and student exchange and enhanced research programs (Higbee, 1982).

In 1989, the Berlin Wall collapses, opening a whole new era of program opportunities in study abroad.


MSU continues to open various Regional and Thematic Centers:

  • 1981 Center for the Advancement of International Development
  • 1985 Canadian Studies Center
  • 1989 Japan Center

In 1980 and 1988, the Sommers and CRUE reports are pivotal in setting the stage and recommendations for moving the international agenda forward.

MSU dedicates $61 million of its instructional budget to international programming.

Study Abroad

The Overseas Study Scholarship Fund and the Career Development Model Grant increases access for more students to study abroad (Gliozzo, 2012).

There is a continued program expansion (diversity of programs). Approximately 1000 students are studying abroad during this phase. MSU is similar to other universities in total numbers but already leads in enrollment in faculty-led programs.

Peer-to-peer advising in study abroad begins.

The Directory of International Internships launches (Gliozzo, 2012).

MSU begins student exchanges and overseas institutional linkages (Smuckler, 2003).

Faculty orientation programs begin.

A diversified curriculum in study abroad programs expands.

1990 to 1999

National Context

With the rising awareness of the link of higher education and globalization, especially with high profile publications such as the Rand report on global preparedness (Bikson & Law, 1994), some study abroad professionals begin to increasingly wonder why more students in underrepresented disciplines are not studying abroad. The confluence of these streams leads to new paradigms and models for growth in study abroad (Woodruff, 2009).

In the 1990s, the field begins to focus on Intercultural Competence.

In the 1990s, the Secussa website was implemented by committee members Charles Gliozzo, Paul Primak, Marvin Slind and Bill Hoffa. SECCUS-L was the first e-mail listserv for international communication amongst international educators. The website presently has approximately 6,000 subscribers (Gliozzo, 2012).


In 1995, the MSU Internal Review Committee issued A Changing University for a Changing World: Michigan State's Global Future, which includes a series of recommendations about study abroad at MSU. As a result, President McPherson appoints a task force to assess the opportunities and constraints for greatly expanding study abroad (Michigan State University, 1995).

McPherson's directive in the early years to achieve a 40 percent participation rate signals that study abroad is an institutional priority and highlights internationalization as integral to MSU's institutional culture.

The study abroad field is still getting comfortable with the value of faculty-led, short-term programs while MSU is already at a 4:1 ratio of 4 students on short-term for 1 on long-term, which is ahead of the field.

Study Abroad

Michael Vande Berg becomes Director in 1995.

Incentive-based budgeting model is developed to promote short-term, faculty-led program. From its inception, the model involves undergraduate departments and instructors in planning and developing programs overseas (Smuckler, 2003). It is believed that MSU faculty will assure quality of instruction by traveling abroad with students and teaching and this allowed for program expansion (Smuckler).

Shared governance implemented via Deans' Designees committee beginning in 1996.

60 new programs come online, including semester direct-enrollment opportunities. Processes for managing credit transfer for co-sponsored programs are established.

2000 to 2013

National Context

Study abroad returns to growth after economic crises.

The high school student who wants to study abroad in college is still primarily a white female who plans to major in the humanities or social sciences and comes from a middle to upper-middle class family (ACE, 2008).

The concept of intervention in student learning while students are abroad is introduced in the study abroad literature (Vande Berg, 2007).

The Forum on Education Abroad begins in 2001.

During the 2000s, there is a major growth in research studies on study abroad.

In 2009, The Lincoln Commission and the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Actare brought to congress, which is an initiative based on the belief that no education today is complete without a global experience with MSU leadership from then President McPherson and International Studies and Programs then Dean Hudzik.


In 2003, MSU scholars Hult and Lashbrooke publish the book "Study Abroad perspectives and experiences from business schools" highlighting study abroad as a viable option for business students.

A single institution study on the learning outcomes of study abroad from the perspective of the students and the faculty is conducted at MSU, and includes self-reflected survey results, faculty questionnaires and GPA/graduation data taken from the student system. Results indicate that students who participate in study abroad tend to have higher retention rates, shorter time to degree completion and higher cumulative GPAs upon graduation (Ingraham & Peterson, 2004).

President Lou Anna K. Simon establishes a strategic plan called "Boldness by Design" in 2005 which includes strategic decisions around internationalization and forging a closer bond between MSU's area students centers and international institutes that concentrate on thematic issues such as business, development, education, health, and agriculture (NAFSA, 2006).

In 2009, MSU is ranked #4 among large colleges and universities for Peace Corps volunteers.

Study Abroad

In 2000, OSA receives the Academic Excellence and Cost Management Award from the American Council on Education and USA Group Foundation.

Kathleen Fairfax becomes Director in 2001.

September 11, 2001 calls for international education to regroup.

In 2001, an innovative collaboration begins with MSU's Career Services unit resulting in the Unpacking Your Study Abroad workshops for students that have been offered twice a semester since.

OSA collaborates with the College of Arts & Letters in 2001 to develop a for-credit study abroad pre-departure course called "Cultural Differences in Study Abroad". The course continues to offer students at MSU with the tools for understanding and interacting with individuals from different cultural backgrounds, how to foster awareness and sensitivity to cultural differences, and the learning about the role of language study in understanding cultural differences.

The first Freshman Seminar Abroad, co-sponsored in collaboration with the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education departs for Quebec, Canada in 2003.

In the 2003-2004 cycle, MSU becomes the #1 public university for study abroad enrollment and maintains this status for 8 years. A database system is created to track and handle massive growth in student participation.

Student-centered approaches to facilitate intercultural learning begin.

A renewed partnership with academic advising emerges.

Risk management policies and procedures establish and faculty members are trained in these protocols.

MSU hosts the CIC Study Abroad Conference on "Building Support Networks in Study Abroad" in 2004, bringing together CIC representatives from function groups that support study abroad (i.e., study abroad professionals with financial aid, registrars, deans and provosts, etc.).

The London bombings in 2005 trigger significant expansion in MSU's risk management protocols.

MSU completes a 2007-2008 Task Force report and participation peaks at 1 in 3 undergraduate students at MSU study abroad in 2008.

Based on the 2007-2008 Task Force recommendations, OSA begins to develop vision for the next phase. Quality, Accessibility, and Diversity (QUAD) are adopted as guiding principles.

There is a 12% decline in study abroad enrollment resulting from the 2008-2009 economic crises in Michigan.

Brett Berquist becomes Executive Director in 2009.

In 2009, Jeff Riedinger, Dean of International Studies and Programs tasks the office to enhance research and scholarship initiatives. These efforts are supported and the first meeting of the Research Council occurs in November 2011.

Beginning in 2010, OSA collaborates with the Office of Faculty & Organizational Development to develop a workshop series: "Educating Globally Competent Graduates, Developing Study Abroad Programs, Research, and Pedagogy" to provide faculty members with resources and training on various aspects of education abroad, ranging from basic program development to outcome assessment and pedagogy.

On September 30, 2011, MSU hosts a Freshman Seminar Abroad Symposium: The MSU Model and Beyond sponsored by the Office of Study Abroad, the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, and Faculty & Organizational Development.

The Professional Development program for Young Professionals begins in 2012, initially including interns for research & scholarship, communications and risk management.

MSU is surpassed in #1 ranking for the 2011-2012 cycle, reported in the 2013 Open Doors report.

In November 2012, the Faculty Learning Community on Teaching & Learning Abroad and the Office of Study Abroad (w/ support from the Office for International Students and Scholars) hosts the 1st annual Learning Abroad Conference. Re-entry programming is enhanced.

There is an increased focus on community engagement, undergraduate research, and international internships.

The office partners with the Academic Internship Council and provides leadership with the research track of the Global Internship Conferences.

MSU plays a leadership role in the national arena in graduate student study abroad. The Graduate Learning Experiences and Outcomes study focuses on graduate study/education abroad (independent and group) offered by higher education institutions in the Midwest, specifically, CIC member institutions and NYU, a national leader in graduate level study abroad. The main goal is to develop a comprehensive inventory and taxonomy of graduate study abroad programs at these institutions.

2013 sees the launch of the nationally unique Doctoral Study Abroad Fellowship program.

OSA engages in President Simon's Bolder by Design initiative.