Perhaps the biggest barrier to implementing many recommendations in this section and advancing the University’s vision for the future is also our greatest strength: decentralization. In the University’s campus culture, decentralization promotes academic excellence and innovation. As a result, academic aspects of international education will and should continue to originate in the schools and colleges. However, it also appears that an openness exists among many campus groups for a greater degree of central infrastructure that will foster communication and collaboration among our programs, that eliminates redundancies and inconsistencies, that conserves increasingly stressed resources, that enhances the quality of student services and programs, and enables the schools and colleges to focus their energies on academic issues. A more central approach to internationalization would ultimately support the diversity of offerings and activities that are the hallmark of an otherwise decentralized institution.
Many of the recommendations in this report focus on units and disciplinary activities. Our organizational culture has time and again demonstrated that our decentralized structure is optimally suited for a diverse approach to change. However, today’s lack of coordination and cooperation limits the impact and efficiency of the University’s enhanced vision for internationalization, as envisioned in this study. Below is a list of key recommendations that, if implemented, would significantly help to address the disadvantages of our decentralized environment, but in ways that respect and do not dampen in any way its benefits.
The main recommendations for centralized action are:
The findings and recommendations in this section form an enhanced vision for the University’s commitment to internationalization. As we look ahead to the process of reviewing, planning for, and implementing these recommendations, it is important to reflect on the ways in which the University will measure not only its progress in this regard, but also to consider the ways in which we will measure the degree to which we are achieving our goals.
Measuring the success of internationalization efforts and drawing comparisons with other institutions is a complicated but critical matter. One ready measure, which the U.S. News & World Report has used in its rankings, is the number and proportion of students and faculty members at the University whose citizenship is outside the U.S. While highly ranked overall with respect to international activities, the University of Michigan scores in the lower range for this particular measure, showing that considerable progress can be made here (see 2008 World’s Best Colleges and Universities). Increasing the number of international citizens in the University community would improve our international reputation and expand our growing international alumni network.
However, assessment of success should have a much broader base than the national origin of students and faculty members, and a first attempt at measures of internationalization is offered below. Ultimately the range and nature of our offerings, the make-up of the University, and our international reputation are measures that will assess the impact of our activities.
Earlier in the report, we described a set of questions that we asked each of the schools and colleges to respond to about their internationalization activities (see Units on Internationalization report). One of the questions was, “What are the measures by which the University of Michigan defines itself now or could further define itself as an internationalized institution?” Drawing directly from these responses, a summary set of measures was created for students, for faculty members and for the University. In each of these main categories, measures were sorted by type. Below is the overall structure for this summary, along with one or two sample measures within each type, representing a widely varied set of both quantitative and qualitative measures. As the University takes the next steps toward the recommendations in our self-study, this list of measures will be a useful tool to assess the progress toward meeting our goals.
University Programs and Practices to Support International Students and Internationalization
Student Accomplishments and Outcomes
Composition of Faculty and Scholars
Faculty Activities, Accomplishments, and Honors
Support for Faculty Involvement in International Research or Creative Work, Teaching, and Service
History and Mission
Institutional Rankings and Prominence
Structure & Organization
Research and Creative Work
International Partnerships and Agreements
Other Outreach Activities
Funds for International Initiatives and Activities