File Photo by Photo by Spencer Hardie
On Feb. 8, California Lutheran University President Lori Varlotta announced in an email that the university has joined the American Council of Education (ACE) Internationalization Laboratory.
The ACE Internationalization Laboratory allows universities access to experts that can help develop leadership teams on campus, create and plan for goals and expand internationalization in all aspects of academia at the university.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to bolster our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, it is my pleasure to share an exciting update related to the progress we are making on the international front,” Varlotta wrote in the email.
Varlotta said Cal Lutheran is one of 10 schools that were picked to join in the 18th cohort of the ACE Internationalization Laboratory.
Greg Freeland, a professor in the Political Science department and director of the Global Studies program, is a member of the Cal Lutheran Internationalization Lab Steering Committee.
“Right now they’re working with 10 [universities], both big and small. For example, when I look at the list here, I see that in the cohort with Cal Lutheran is a large university like University of Kansas, Pratt Institute, [which is] an art school in New York City, there’s a school in Ethiopia, which is international,” Freeland said in a Zoom interview. “It’s also not just a university statement that we want to internationalize the campus, but it is also in the mission statement, I believe, for students. [The University] wants to prepare students as global citizens and [to] operate in the globalized world.”
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Leanne Neilson said in a phone interview that the timing is ideal due to the restructuring of the Center of Global Engagement and the changes it has undergone. The CGE was restructured to bring together education abroad, international admissions, international services and now the ACE Internationalization Laboratory, Neilson said.
“It matches our mission. It’s very much a part of who we are and what’s important to us,” Neilson said in a phone interview.
Christina Sanchez, associate provost for Global Engagement, said in a Zoom interview that this is a very exciting moment for the university.
“It is a time in which we are embarking upon a journey together to really benchmark and access the current climate and institutional work around our global learning,” Sanchez said.
There has been some pushback in the U.S. over diversity and inclusivity in the past 12 months and during the previous four years under the Trump administration. The data demonstrates the impact of this exclusivity on the university and the enrollment of international students, Sanchez said.
“Global trends have been away from the United States to other countries that are welcoming and inclusive and supportive of international communities and that certainty has had its influence on what we’re seeing at Cal Lutheran for the incoming students,” Sanchez said.
There are plans to help integrate students in the work the ACE Internationalization Laboratory plans to bring to campus, and to help with future goals, Neilson said.
“We have a think-tank group that is helping with our brainstorming and thinking about the future,” Neilson said. “We do have a student who is serving on that think tank plus we have a larger group of people that we’re going to be reaching out to beyond the think-tank to get their input.”