Town hall participants discuss CMU’s international programs

Carnegie Mellon professors discussed the university’s global strategies and programs. (credit: Abhinav Gautam/Photo Editor) Carnegie Mellon professors discussed the university’s global strategies and programs. (credit: Abhinav Gautam/Photo Editor) Carnegie Mellon professors discussed the university’s global strategies and programs. (credit: Abhinav Gautam/Photo Editor) Carnegie Mellon professors discussed the university’s global strategies and programs. (credit: Abhinav Gautam/Photo Editor)

As campus members come closer to finalizing a strategic plan for the university’s future, many gathered on Tuesday in the Posner Center for a town hall meeting focused on one aspect of the plan: Carnegie Mellon’s international strategy.

A working group of 32 people across Carnegie Mellon colleges, programs, and campuses have been working to refine the main points of the international strategy through previous town halls and collaborations with students, faculty, and staff.

At the head of the international strategy working group is Vice Provost for International Programs and Strategy K. Jimmy Hsia, who introduced the presenting members of the working group.

Hsia and Vice President for Marketing and Communications Steve Kloehn together enumerated the goals of the town hall, which included voicing new issues and already identified ones, collecting ideas about Carnegie Mellon’s strategic goals and international presence, and gathering ideas to meet those goals.

First, Director of the College of Engineering’s Information Networking Institute Dena Haritos Tsamitis spoke about the state of Carnegie Mellon’s existing programs. Tsamitis noted that currently international programs operate under a decentralized model. In other words, individual Carnegie Mellon colleges typically maintain international programs independently of one another.

Best practices are also only passed on informally, and faculty standards differ among programs. For example, some faculty are hired specifically for the programs while others spend time at the main campus before becoming involved with international programs. There is a broad range of programs, most offering master’s degrees, with varied sizes and ties to Carnegie Mellon’s Pittsburgh campus.

Tsamitis asked attending members how Carnegie Mellon should measure the success and impact of international programs. Tsamatis also stressed how the university should plan for program sustainability, develop exit strategies, and measure opportunity costs.

Next, Manfred Paulini, a professor of physics, spoke about bringing Carnegie Mellon’s cultural values to other campuses and programs, and vice versa. He asked the audience what the essentials of Carnegie Mellon’s culture are, as well as what defines a Carnegie Mellon experience.

He said that, at the main campus, further integration of U.S. and international students must occur. He noted that the university needs to identify international students’ needs and address them with the appropriate resources.

Last, the town hall addressed a need to provide incentives for student, faculty, staff, and alumni to spend time at international locations.

“As an institution, we’re definitely turning a corner in our relative view of thinking more about what is our net impact in the world, both as an institution and in the explosion of our graduates and alumni out into the world,” said Vice President for Campus Affairs Michael Murphy from the audience.

Murphy asked those attending to ask themselves to what end programs and connections are being forged: “What good in the world can we do that we’re not doing now?”

Assistant professor of physics Shirley Ho presented emerging international opportunities with Heinz College and Dietrich College for Humanities and Social Sciences associate teaching professor Joseph Mertz.

They asked how the university can distill its experience with other programs into a set of best practices and policies for new opportunities, as well as how Carnegie Mellon should select new program or campus opportunities.

Ho and Mertz then presented a number of potential principles to guide new opportunities, including what potential societal changes programs will have, what research opportunities they will provide, and whether they need to be revenue positive from the start.

Last, Associate Dean of the School of Computer Science Philip Lehman and Hsia closed regarding a draft mission statement for Carnegie Mellon’s international strategy. They asked the audience for feedback on the statement: “We are — and we educate — Citizens of the World. CMU’s strategic goal for international engagement is to provide world class research and education in partnership with a global community of various cultures, diverse backgrounds, and countries, without the borders of a campus, to achieve broad societal impact.”