PittGlobal transitions university focus abroad

(Illustration by Eli Savage | Staff Illustrator)

The Office of the Provost aimed to shrink Pitt’s environmental footprint with the Year of Sustainability. Four years later, the goal is to broaden its horizons with the PittGlobal initiative.

“PittGlobal was chosen to celebrate Pitt being at home in the world and promote the University as a global convening point,” Pitt spokesperson Kevin Zwick said in an email.

Leaders from some of Pitt’s cultural organizations hope to see Pitt stick to that promise during the year of PittGlobal. Albert Tanjaya, a junior computer science major and vice president of external affairs for the Asian Student Alliance, said that he hopes that with PittGlobal, the administration provides greater support and resources to cultural organizations for events around campus this school year.

“We don’t know what they plan to do with that theme,” he said. “It’s too early to tell, but I really do hope that they put a lot of bite in their message.”

Sarah Omobuwa, a senior marketing major and president of the African Student Organization, said that she, too, is hopeful PittGlobal will be a success.

“As an organization, especially as an ethnic organization, it feels like we kind of have to pull teeth to get recognition on campus,” she said. “So I’m kind of glad to see they’re emphasizing the global aspect and looking into different cultures and minorities around the world.”

During the academic year, the University will feature programs and events designed to foster global engagement. Departments from across the University are invited to submit proposals for programs and projects that will incorporate international perspectives.

The Year of PittGlobal committee reviews each of the proposals as they are submitted. If approved, projects will be awarded matching funding of up to $5,000.

The committee — made up of 21 members including students, staff and faculty — is led by co-chairs Randall Halle, director of the Film and Media Studies program, and Belkys Torres, executive director for global engagement at the University Center for International Studies.

There are already several events scheduled for the upcoming school year, including International Week, which begins Oct. 13 and runs until Oct. 19. Students from not only Pitt, but across the country, will celebrate and experience the benefits of international education and exchange. Events for International Week — and the rest of Year of PittGlobal — are still in the planning stages, Zwick said, but will be added to the PittGlobal website as they’re finalized.

Pitt’s yearly themes were initiated by former Provost Patricia Beeson.

“For those of us in higher education, global engagement is not a choice. It is an imperative,” former Provost Patricia Beeson said in a press release announcing the Year of PittGlobal. “We are a world coming closer together, so we need to engage and connect more than ever before.”

Beeson announced her return to Pitt’s economics faculty in Nov. 2017. She will be succeeded by Ann E. Cudd, who will begin her tenure as Pitt’s provost and senior vice chancellor this fall.

Pitt has seen success in global engagement. Not only did Pitt welcome more than 3,200 international students during the 2016-17 school year, but it also has more than 8,000 alumni living outside of the United States.

Along with Pitt’s extensive global reach, it is also committed to its study abroad programs — boasting more than 350 options from which students can choose.

Ariel Armony, vice provost for global affairs and director of the University Center for International Studies, said global engagement is imperative in higher education and the PittGlobal programs can accomplish this.

“This initiative will highlight Pitt’s position as a global research university, our groundbreaking innovation and new partnerships and our strong commitment to language learning as a tool to encourage cultural awareness and open-mindedness,” Armony said in an email.

As a leader in international studies programs, Armony said Pitt “brings together the brightest minds to freely engage in dialogue and activities with the goal of improving life, health, prosperity and social mobility here and around the world.”

And despite not knowing exactly what the year of PittGlobal will entail, Asian Student Alliance publicity chair Bobby Chung commended the administration for adopting a more global perspective this year.

“The fact that they have set this as their theme and they are kind of recognizing international students, that’s already their first step in the right direction.”

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