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Release: April 21, 2000

UI is in line with President Clinton's international education goals

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa's commitment to international education was reaffirmed Wednesday (April 19) when President Clinton issued an executive memorandum announcing the federal government's policy to renew and strengthen its commitment to international education.

Many of the goals outlined in the memorandum are the same as those the UI has had in place for years, including encouraging U.S. students to study abroad, supporting foreign language and area studies education for American students, and welcoming international students to study at U.S. colleges and universities.

"The University of Iowa applauds President Clinton's and Secretary Riley's support of international education in this historic memorandum," said Steven Hoch, associate provost and dean of UI International Programs. "Since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, the University of Iowa has been reconceptualizing its own international education program and has been at the forefront of implementing many of the same initiatives outlined by the president."

The president's statement emphasizes that "a coherent and coordinated international education strategy will help us meet the twin challenges of preparing our citizens for a global environment while continuing to attract and educate future leaders from abroad."

The president directed the heads of executive departments and agencies, working in partnership with the private sector, to take several specific actions, including: encouraging students from other countries to study in the United States; promoting study abroad by U.S. students; strengthening support for foreign language learning at all levels; creating new efforts to make sure that international education is an integral component of U.S. undergraduate education; and advancing new technologies that aid the spread of knowledge throughout the world.

UI statistics show that in recent years, steadily increasing numbers of UI students have spent a semester or a year studying in foreign countries, a rise precipitated by UI President Mary Sue Coleman's emphasis on study abroad as an integral part of the undergraduate experience. In her five years as UI president, the number of UI students studying abroad has risen by 65 percent. Since 1990, the UI has seen a 145 percent increase in the number of students studying abroad. In 1998-99, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 670 UI students studied abroad.

The UI also has remained firm in its belief that the study of foreign languages and cultures is an essential part of a liberal education. As part of the College of Liberal Arts General Education Program, students who have not completed four years of foreign language study in high school must study a foreign language at the UI.

President Clinton's memorandum is the first major post-Cold War statement by a U.S. president in support of international education. The White House issued the memorandum following U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley's address earlier in the day calling for a renewed emphasis on international education. Speaking to approximately 250 audience members at the French Embassy, Riley suggested that Cold War imperatives had defined international education for much of the past 50 years.

Riley added that the U.S. must define "a new set of principles for international education that respond to the contemporary challenges of our time," principals such as intellectual freedom, democracy building, human rights, the peaceful resolution of disputes, cultural diversity and a willingness to see the advance of education for the good of all.

"It is very encouraging to hear this strong statement of support at the federal level," said
Jae-On Kim, UI sociology professor and director of the UI Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (CAPS), which receives federal support for the administering of Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships. "There was a feeling among some segments of the U.S. after the end of the Cold War that maybe we didn't need support for international education. The truth is that universities, society and the government need to work together now more than ever to promote greater world understanding as our world becomes increasingly competitive and interdependent."

The full text of President Clinton's memorandum is available on the Web at

For more information on UI International Programs, contact Steve Hoch, associate provost and dean, at (319) 335-0256.