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Federal grant will allow study abroad program to expand

ISSUED: 15 July 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University will be able to significantly expand its study abroad program thanks to a $49,963 grant from the U.S. Department of State. Shepherd is one of only 18 higher education institutions nationally awarded a one-year Capacity Building Grant for Study Abroad.

“The funds will essentially move Shepherd’s current program, which is part time, to a full-time program offering a very broad palette of experiences and utilizing best practices that can then be sustained over time.” said Dr. Charles Nieman, director of international affairs.

Nieman said the award comes at an important time, allowing Shepherd to hire a full-time director, provide professional certification to that person, establish strategic partnerships for exchange with institutions in other countries, and develop marketing and supportive programming to increase the number of students studying abroad.

“The idea would be that every student here would have the opportunity to do something academically outside of the United States,” Nieman said. “There are great teachers, great programs, and the world is a very large place with a lot of opportunity and allowing our students to have that access is the dream of every study abroad office.”

Nieman said the partnerships with universities in other countries will also allow Shepherd to collaborate and offer opportunities for co-teaching and exchanges for faculty.

Shepherd is currently establishing  exchange agreements with Anáhuac University in Mexico, Osaka University of Commerce in Japan, Ziam University in Istanbul Turkey, the University of the West of Scotland in Paisley, and the University of Nicosia in Cyprus. Nieman said Shepherd is also pursuing study abroad opportunities in Cuba.

Nieman hopes the grant will make it possible for Shepherd to develop more programs that are longer term, academically sound, cost effective, and tailored to students’ discipline. It will also allow the study abroad office to offer academic advisor workshops, training workshops for new faculty who are considering leading a study abroad trip, re-entry sessions for students who have studied abroad, a photo contest, and to host a reception honoring graduating seniors who have studied abroad.

“We want to be able to offer a broad set of choices so our students can hone in on what they would like to study, where they would like to study, and at a cost they can afford,” Nieman said. “I’m looking at this as an opportunity for our students to really see university life in a much broader way and to hopefully access that if they desire.”

Listen to the interview HERE.

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