UMD: A Globally Connected University

BTAA Summit on International Student Inclusion Hosted by UMD

BTAA Summit on International Student Inclusion Hosted by UMD

April 6, 2022

The University of Maryland’s office of International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) hosted the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) Summit on March 31–April 1, 2022.

Professionals from the Big Ten universities met virtually to explore and share ideas for enhancing international student inclusion and engagement. This year’s BTAA Summit showcased best practices, models and collaborative research from across UMD and BTAA institutions. 

Sue Dougherty, Director of ISSS, has been planning to bring the BTAA Summit to UMD for the past three years. "The success of the BTAA Summit would not have been possible without the contributions of the many people involved in making it a reality. Special thanks go to our framing speaker Dr. Nicole Stokes of St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, PA,  who set the tone for the conference," shared Dougherty.

This year’s Summit participants sought to better understand where international students and scholars fit within the context of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. Sessions explored questions such as how can ISSS offices better collaborate with other campus services and resources, how can they support the mental health of this population, and what is the impact of intercultural training for faculty?

One panel discussion, moderated by UMD’s Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, Georgina Dodge, Ph.D., explored synergies between international student and scholar service offices and offices focused on diversity and inclusion, and brought in perspectives from UMD, Pennsylvania State University and the University of Minnesota.

"Growing the collaboration between our offices will help ensure that all students enjoy a rich global educational experience, giving students greater access to diverse resources and knowledge," shared Dr. Dodge.

The theme of collaboration was echoed by Gaby Gillespie, Integration Program Manager for UMD ISSS, and co-chair for the 2022 BTAA Summit, who shared, “One office cannot possibly serve the needs of all students, but through collaboration with key campus partners, and with a deeper understanding of the intersectional identities of students, we can provide more holistic support for our international students.”

Another notable session addressed the needs of international student athletes and the importance of inclusion across the NCAA, Big Ten and college athletics, which provided new and interesting insights for university practitioners. Summit participant  Jake Koelzer, a program advisor for the International Center at the University of Michigan, said, “I not only came out of [the Summit] with practical takeaways to improve my office's programming efforts, but I also learned quite a bit about a population I have had limited exposure to during my time in international education: international student athletes."

BTAA institutions aim to foster inclusive campuses through intentional student engagement, evidenced-based teaching and research focused on solving global challenges of our times. UMD’s International Student & Scholar Services, in the Office of International Affairs, was honored to bring the Summit to the University of Maryland, creating a space for cross-institutional dialogue and strengthening partnerships in the pursuit of more diverse and inclusive campus communities.