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Global U
Spotlight on Learning, Discovery, and Engagement

Dear Friends,

The holiday season starts a bit early here in the GPS Alliance with this week's celebration of International Education Week. Mothers and fathers get just ONE day, but we in the international education field get an entire week! Maybe that's because we have so much to celebrate about our work to internationalize the University.U of M named one of the "Best Global U" by U.S. News & World Report

On Monday, the annual Open Doors report ranked the University of Minnesota #4 nationally in the number of students who study abroad and #16 in the number of international students on the Twin Cities campus. Last month, U.S. News & World Report ranked the University #29 in the world on its list of Best Global Universities.

Rankings, of course, are only one way to demonstrate our value to the University, the state, and the community. Your support is another important metric. Thanks to you, our loyal advocates and supporters, for helping us achieve so much. Your belief in our mission enables our work. I hope you enjoy the stories in this newsletter and see yourself in the impact.

Meredith McQuaid signature
Meredith McQuaid
Associate Vice President and Dean
of International Programs

Giraffe photo by M. BarendseRising to new heights

Ph.D. candidate Megan Strauss, recipient of a 2010 Global Spotlight Doctoral Fellowship for International Research, already has significant accomplishments on her resumé—a B.S. in anthropology-zoology and psychology from Michigan, an honors thesis on male-female interactions in captive chimpanzee, and a prairie dog conservation experience in Utah. So it's not surprising that her research would be featured in an article in the New York Times! Interviewed along with other researchers about the surprising lack of giraffe research, she is quoted saying, “When I first became interested in giraffes in 2008 and started looking through the scientific literature, I was really surprised to see how little had been done. It was amazing that something as well known as the giraffe could be so little studied.” Megan's current research focuses on the ecology, behavior, and conservation of giraffes in Serengeti National Park. She is particularly interested in lion-giraffe interactions.

A lifetime of legacy

Despite his "retirement" many years ago, Distinguished Emeritus Professor Josef Mestenhauser continues to develop and share his substantial body of work in the field of international education. On Oct. 29, he took part in a panel discussion on the current state of internationalization in higher education at a NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference in St. Paul. Professor Mestenhauser's tireless energy provided the groundwork for Minnesota's outstanding reputation in the field of international education. The University's Mestenhauser Legacy Initiative broadens efforts to enhance international understanding through innovative programs and scholarship. These include an award to recognize outstanding student contributions to internationalization and a lecture to spotlight field-leading experts, with more activities in the works. Learn more about the Mestenhauser Legacy Initiative.

Joe Mestenhauser with alumni during homecoming 2014

On Oct. 18, Josef Mestenhauser visited with a group of international alumni who returned to campus for a reunion (see story below). He served as a friend and mentor to them when they were students at the University.

Study Abroad + New Skills = JOB!

Can study abroad help you get a job? Research by the University’s Learning Abroad Center says it can! Many skills employers value are developed during a study abroad experience. Interpersonal communication, interaction with people in diverse situations, and the ability to solve problems are at the top of the list. Students, too, are seeing the impact of study abroad and telling us real-life stories of how study abroad has helped their careers. Below are a few highlights of the survey results; see more statistics here.

"Learning about other countries' healthcare systems has helped make me an even better provider.

53% said it positively impacted their ability to land a first job 64% acquired skill sets that influenced their career path

Did study abroad help your career? Send us a note about your experience to We’d love to hear your story!

Your gifts to the Learning Abroad Alumni Fund help students afford an experience abroad and gain valuable skills that employers are looking for. Thank you!

Parents experience life on campus

It can be scary to send your child off to college, but what if your child was going to school on the other side of the world? That experience was made a lot less scary for some parents of international students, thanks to new parent orientation programs. Parents toured campus to learn about what life would be like for their child at the U of M. They attended presentations about the U.S. educational system, American classroom expectations, and campus safety, among other topics; and traveled around the Twin Cities using public transportation. Parents told us they appreciated the chance to experience what life is like on campus, and felt the program demonstrated the University’s dedication to international students.

CHIPOP parents toured the Twin Cities campus

Parents of Chinese students pose for a photo in front of the McNamara Alumni Center during a parent orientation program tour of campus.

In October, U.S. parents visiting campus during Parents Weekend attended a special session of Small World Coffee Hour where they were treated to coffee and sambusas, lively presentations, and interactive activities to hear from international student leaders and learn about opportunities for their children to interact with people from around the world.

Your donations to the International Scholar and Student Services (ISSS) Fund make it possible to offer new initiatives such as international parent orientation programs. Thank you!

Q&A with Dr. Thordis Thordardottir, University of Iceland

Dr. Thordis ThordardottirDr. Thordis Thordardottir spent several months at the University of Minnesota this fall while on a sabbatical from her teaching position at the University of Iceland. Her trip was made possible in part by the Carol Pazandak Iceland-Minnesota Travel Fund, which supports faculty and staff from the University of Iceland to come to Minnesota.

What is your area of research?
My research is on gender identity in children. I study how children construct meanings, the influence of literature and pop culture, and how their experience with these affects how they interact socially. I also teach classes in the College of Education at the University of Iceland, which I enjoy as much as I do my research!

What did you do during your time in Minnesota?
I was a visiting scholar in the College of Education and Human Development. I primarily networked with people in my field, and I presented my work at Winona State University and here at the University of Minnesota.

What was your favorite aspect of your time at the University of Minnesota?
I have to say it was the campus—I found it both beautiful and stimulating to academic activity. My favorite part of campus was the library, which provides scientific journals much quicker than the smaller library at the University of Iceland.

Alumni come home to the U

Did you know the U of M has been celebrating homecoming for 100 years? Since 1914, the University has dedicated one week to honor the spirit of maroon and gold. This year alumni from near and far came home to the U. One group from Belgium, California, France, New Mexico, and Minnesota gathered at the University International Center for a 48-year reunion to remember their time living in the "International House." Another group of alumni was honored with the Distinguished Chinese Alumni Award.

China 100 distinguished alumni with President Kaler

The University of Minnesota honored 100 “Distinguished Chinese Alumni” as part of the 100th anniversary of the first Chinese students to attend the University of Minnesota. Some of these alumni returned to campus for a reception during homecoming, where they received their awards from President Eric Kaler. Read stories and bios of alumni on the China 100 website.

Alumni then and now photos

The “International House” at 1801 University Avenue SE may no longer exist, but the friendships that were formed there have lasted for decades. A group of alumni who lived at the house held a reunion on Oct. 18 during homecoming to reconnect with old friends, share stories and photos, and visit their favorite parts of campus.

Career-defining experiences for Judd Fellows

Treating children with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and other congenital conditions in Tanzania...Helping women learn about new farming techniques, marketing options, nutrition, and gender in India…Empowering the most vulnerable communities in Somalia, South Sudan, and Kenya to be resilient to hunger. These are just three of the "career-defining experiences" enabled by philanthropy for graduate and professional degree students.

In its 13th year, the Judd Fellowships program provided 15 students the chance to pursue their international research projects in 2014. During the Judd Expo in October, donors to the Walter H. Judd Fellowship Fund gathered to talk with the 2014 Judd Fellows about their projects abroad. Guests also heard from Judd alumni Elizabeth Hutchinson Kruger ('09) and Sarah Sevcik ('09, '12) about the impact the Judd-funded experiences have had on their careers. (Sound familiar? Check out the story about study abroad and careers above!) These successful alumni are living proof that the Judd Fellowships are making a difference in the intercultural, academic, and career development of master’s and professional degree students.

Did you miss the Judd Expo? Look at photos and view the Judd Fellows posters on our website.

Good news! Gifts from alumni to the Judd Fellow Alumni Fund, which were matched by donors Carol and Cliff Stiles, are making it possible for a Judd Alumni Fellowship to be awarded in 2015!


When Carolyn Hynes ('64, '67) found the CARLA website, she knew she had found a place dear to her heart. GPS Alliance and CARLA fellows and staff members are delighted to welcome Carole into our globally minded community with open arms. Now as a donor, event attendee, and friend, she has reconnected with her alma mater. She recently attended a CARLA brownbag presentation by CARLA Fellow Andie Wang and shared, “It is an honor to know that my contribution supports CARLA Fellows in attaining their professional goals and personal dreams.” A retired French teacher, Carole continued, “[Her] presentation was enlightening … and her intelligence, conviction, and concern for her students’ high achievement are admired.”

Big news! CARLA is thrilled to announce it has been awarded a competitive grant by the U.S. Department of Education’s International and Foreign Language Education (Title VI) Language Resource Center program. Over the next four years, this funding will enable CARLA to continue its efforts to improve the nation’s capacity for foreign language learning.

Small World Coffee Hour graphic imageGlobal connections made through coffee

Alumni and best friends Jeong Rok Oh ('08, '13) and Hee Sung Lee ('04) from South Korea have fond memories of their time as leaders and participants with Small World Coffee Hour. So much so that they decided to make a donation to support the program, some two years after they graduated. “We just wanted to express our appreciation for the SWCH program,” says Jeong Rok.

Hundreds of students and staff at the University take part in Small World Coffee Hour each semester, enjoying yummy foods from a different region of the world along with great discussions, cultural activities, and of course coffee. Small World Coffee Hour provides a unique opportunity to learn about the world and build connections that expand across the globe, making a strong impact on all those who have participated.

Did you know? Last year 21% of GPS Alliance supporters were first-time donors to the University, like Jeong Rok Oh and Hee Sung Lee.

Name a favorite global program in your estate plans

Sample bequest language: “I give [the sum, percentage, or description of property] to the University of Minnesota Foundation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, to be used for the benefit of the [name of campus, college or program].”

For more information on ways to support the exchange through your estate plans, contact Diane Young, GPS Alliance development director, at 612-624-8819 or at

Your philanthropic investment in the GPS Alliance Strategic Directions Fund will nurture “great ideas” that have too often withered on-the-vine for lack of a patron. This Fund provides the dean of international programs with flexible resources to respond quickly to emerging opportunities. These could include matching funds to leverage a faculty member’s research project abroad, an honorarium to bring an innovative international expert to campus, or an airline ticket for a student who gets invited to present research at an international conference. These timely investments will help ensure that great ideas no longer become lost opportunities. Be a philanthropic partner with the GPS Alliance and help make an impact on our students, our campus, and our world!
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