New Facility to Promote Student Success, Enhance Campus Diversity
The new International Village at Southeast Missouri State University opened its doors this week, providing a venue dedicated to serving international students and enhancing the University’s diverse and globally-oriented campus.
Located at 1025 N. Sprigg Street, the University’s Office of International Education and Services (IES) and the Intensive English Program (IEP) will now have a permanent new home in refurbished facilities.
“The International Village at Southeast is a unique setting and one offered by only a handful of universities in the nation. It is spaces such as this that give students an opportunity to learn from one another and feel at home on a college campus. The International Village will serve as a gathering space and learning environment for all students for many years to come,” said Dr. Debbie Below, vice president for enrollment management and student success.
The project repurposed the facilities for the University’s international needs, bringing together in one location IES, which was formerly located in a house at 939 College Hill, and IEP, which had offices throughout Pacific Hall at 347 N. Pacific.
“We are looking forward to a positive space where students can gather, share and learn,” said Dr. Kevin Timlin, executive director of International Education and Services. “The International Village will be a hub dedicated to serving international students and enhancing global understanding at Southeast.”
The administrative building has new office space for IES and IEP staff, and the gym has been upgraded to be used for social, recreational and learning activities. Adjacent to the gym is a commercial and residential kitchen to be used as a catering prep area for events in the gym or for student social activities.
“This space will provide a whole new dimension and flexibility to host small and larger events,” Timlin said. “It’s a perfect venue for international students to share their culture, food and experiences with the whole campus.”
Additionally, renovations for a 20-station computer lab in the administrative building, and four classrooms and two small lounges in the cottages will help meet the academic needs of IEP students.
Southeast’s IEP prepares English language learners for success in undergraduate or graduate study through high-quality instruction in the English language and cultural orientation activities. The program, accredited by the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA), emphasizes the linguistic skills, cultural awareness and critical thinking skills necessary to succeed at an American university.
The renovated learning spaces in a centralized location will be a key factor for their students continued success, said Breanna Walling, associate director of IES and director of IEP.
“With a dedicated space, we can invest in the resources and support students need to find success,” she said.
IEP began offering classes in its new location this spring, said Walling.
The International Village’s new location on Southeast’s campus will provide more opportunities for international students to interact with people across the campus.
“A connection to campus improves our students’ transition to a new culture and language, and gives them opportunities to practice their communication skills,” she said.
The International Village will also be a space for the Southeast community, Timlin added.
“Having a global understanding is vital to being a productive student and professional in the 21st century,” he said. “Education is about collaboration, and the International Village will be dedicated to sharing and understanding global cultures across the Southeast community.”
An official ribbon-cutting ceremony, celebrating the new venue and its students is planned for this spring.
The renovation project dovetails with Southeast’s participation during the past two years in the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Comprehensive Internationalization Laboratory. The laboratory has helped guide Southeast in its review of current international efforts and work towards the creation of a strategic plan in its international education efforts that align and integrate policies, programs and initiatives to position the University as a more globally-oriented and internationally-connected institution. The strategic planning process is currently in its final stages. Redesigning the facilities for Southeast’s international services will help fulfill the University’s commitment to advance internationalization. Southeast had 615 international students enrolled last fall.
Southeast’s Board of Regents approved a budget in September 2017 to repurpose the facilities for the University’s international needs and to outfit them with appropriate equipment and furniture. Second phase renovations, to be addressed in the future, will include repurposing the final three cottages for residential housing.
The opportunity to redevelop the space as an International Village became possible after the Community Counseling Center assumed operation of Cottonwood Residential Treatment Facility in July 2015, later deciding to relocate and end its lease. The Southeast Missouri University Foundation built Cottonwood in 1987 for lease to the Missouri Department of Mental Health as a youth treatment facility, which operated the facility from its construction until June 2015. The space was identified, evaluated and recommended for repurposing by the Lawrence Group, hired to spearhead a comprehensive master planning process at Southeast.