The University of Alabama envisions being known as the university of choice for the best and brightest students who seek exceptional educational opportunities to advance the intellectual and social condition of the people of the state, the nation and the world. UA provides a premier undergraduate and graduate education that offers a global perspective and is characterized by outstanding teaching, high-quality scholarship and distinctive curricular and co-curricular programs.
The Capstone International Center (CIC), led by the Associate Provost for International Education and Global Outreach, coordinates programs and opportunities on and off campus that have an international focus. Dr. Teresa E. Wise currently directs the CIC and currently sits on the 2023 JASA Executive Committee. The CIC also offers advising and support for prestigious international scholarships such as the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and Boren Awards to name a few. The CIC fosters partnerships with various universities worldwide and participates in student exchange programs at 29 different universities in 14 countries including Japan. These campuses include Hiroshima University, Kansai Gaidai University, Meiji University, Ritsumeikan University and Chiba University which has been a partner for over 25 years.
Dr. Wise and fellow CIC staff, Sonya Harwood-Johnson and Ruzanna Yolyan, pose for a photo with international students and fellow volunteers on United Way’s Day of Action. The CIC provides opportunities for international students and scholars to interact with the community in a positive light.
Many international students at UA also participate in the accreditedIntensive English Program coordinated by CIC’s English Language Institute (ELI). The institute provides top quality instruction to non-native speakers of English while providing students with orientation to U.S. culture. ELI enrolls approximately 75 students per session from 16 different countries mostly from Japan, China, Colombia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Some students participate in customized group programs such as Chiba University’s English + Nursing Program where students attend English language sessions with a focus on medical terminology and observe UA nursing classes, attend clinical immersion and tour local medical facilities. Serving as a “Gateway to UA”, the specialized Intensive English Program provides an opportunity for international students to matriculate into UA degree programs at both undergraduate and graduate degree levels. The ELI plays a major role in international student recruitment at UA.
In the Fall of 2022, the CIC’s International Student & Scholar Services served 1,118 active, enrolled international students, including 246 new international students from 88 countries, territories and regions. Of the 246 new international students, there were 188 first-time and internal transfer graduate students, 50 first-time freshmen, and eight first-time undergraduate transfer students. The university is also currently sponsoring 175 recent graduates who are working on Optional Practical Training (OPT). UA also employs 277 non-immigrant scholars, faculty and staff representing 44 countries and territories.
While UA welcomed many international students last year, the CIC’s Education Abroad (EA) program sent 1,115 students to more than 55 countries to participate in over 235 unique programs internationally in 2022. After a pause from in-person programs worldwide, the EA office saw a heightened demand for studying abroad as the world emerged from the pandemic. When international borders opened once more, 40% of the students who participated in an EA program had never been abroad before and 36 students travelled on a Gilman Scholarship Award.
The CIC provides many opportunities for cultural exchange on and off campus through the Global and Cultural Perspectives Minor, Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), and community outreach. In 2018, UA received an American Council on Education grant to initiate COIL activities with a partner institution in Japan, Chiba University, with support from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. This partnership allows the Chiba nursing students to collaborate online with UA students prior to their arrival for the English + Nursing Program.
Kansai Gaidai and UA students excited to eat Japanese curry and get to know one another at the Japanese themed Multicultural Coffee Hour last spring.
In 1987, the CIC held Tuscaloosa’s first Annual Sakura Festival in collaboration with Tuscaloosa’s Sister Cities International and has continued the tradition each spring to engage the local community with Japanese culture. This year, Consul General Mio Maeda gave a speech to the community and students from UA and Kansai Gaidai University held demonstrations and matsuri games for the all ages. The CIC supports international groups and events such as the weekly Multi-Cultural Coffee Hour that invites all international and domestic students, scholars, faculty and staff to enjoy a culturally themed snack over great conversation with new and old friends from around the world. In an effort to internationalize the campus and community, the CIC coordinates these programs and opportunities with a worldwide focus.
Consul General Maeda speaks to everyone at the beginning of the 37th Annual Sakura Festival.
Kansai Gaidai students demonstrate the Morning Taiso Stretch routine at the 37th Annual Sakura Festival.