Follow up on Study Group International Partnership

Dear Campus Community,

There has been much discussion recently about the University’s partnership with Study Group to increase international student enrollment at Western, especially as several working groups have recently convened in anticipation of our first international students from this partnership arriving next fall.  Questions have been asked about the operations of the partnership, the terms of the agreement, and its impact on our educational environment. However, the one issue that has made me reflect deeply has been around questions related to shared governance and this partnership. I appreciate that the Faculty Senate has specifically brought this issue to my attention.  I want to start by offering a heartfelt apology for not engaging our faculty colleagues more directly in conversations about the partnership with the Study Group.

As I stated in my comments at the Faculty Senate meeting on Monday, November 13, during the presidential interview process in winter 2016, I learned about the university’s interest in internationalization and campus discussions about increasing the presence of international students which had been taking place over the previous year. Western’s articulated goals of internationalization were even part of the presidential profile produced for, and by, campus for the recruitment of a new president. In fact, in summer 2016 the university was in discussion with a company for an international recruitment partnership, which subsequently fell through.

Being new to Western, I made assumptions about the extent to which the university community had vetted the topic. I assumed that the contract with Study Group would be the culmination of an almost 18-month process and thus moved forward last year. In retrospect, we should have had direct conversations with faculty over the nature of the partnership with Study Group. For not having had those conversations, I sincerely apologize. Please know that I greatly value shared governance, and both Provost Carbajal and I believe that our collaborative work with faculty is critical in advancing our goals.

Designing the Western Global Pathway program is a work in progress. I hope that this “question and answer” document will be helpful in responding to many of the questions and concerns we’ve heard thus far.  As the working groups continue their planning activity, other questions are likely to emerge, so we will continue to update this document. We look forward to working with our faculty colleagues to help shape the academic design and delivery of this program, to rigorously track progress and success of this initiative, and to identify areas for investment for success of all students at Western.

Sincerely,

Sabah Randhawa

President