Indiana State University Newsroom

Center for Global Engagement focuses on student experience, enrollment

September 2, 2015

International students have made their way to Indiana State University this fall, but the work never stops for the staff at the Center for Global Engagement.

The center is working on several initiatives focused on enrollment and improving the international student experience through collaboration across campus - from colleges and departments to student affairs.

"The goal is to work with them to help support efforts they're doing to bring about success for all of our students, including international students," said Chris McGrew, director of the Center for Global Engagement. "We are trying to funnel resources and staff to the colleges and departments that can work directly with international student issues to help improve the student experience."

Seventy-seven countries are represented on campus, including three new countries - Norway, Granada and The Netherlands. Of the 1,057 international students enrolled at Indiana State, 747 are at the undergraduate level - an increase of 6 students.

Saudi Arabia has the highest enrollment with more than 500 students (almost half of the university's international students), followed by India, United Arab Emirates, China and South Korea. Of those countries, India saw the largest growth in student population - about 13 percent - with most attending graduate school. There was also growth in the number of students from Morocco and West Africa.

"Our challenge now is to make sure that all of our students, not just the ones born in Indiana but our international students, too, have a good ISU experience," McGrew said. "At ISU, there are a lot of opportunities for our international students to participate in activities - Donaghy Day, community service, student leadership opportunities that they may not find somewhere else, and we want to make students more aware of everything that we have to offer."

It's important to find ways to integrate international students on campus and encourage them to be "successful trees" through involvement in activities advertised outside as well as inside the Center for Global Engagement, McGrew said. As a way to help with the acclimation process, the center invited international students to a welcome picnic on Aug. 17.

"I feel comfortable being here. It's like being home," said Ai Otagaki, a freshman communication major from Kobe, Japan. Otagaki hopes her American experience provides countless opportunities to improve her English speaking skills.

"Terre Haute seems like such a nice, calm city and I like the diversity here. The people have been really nice," said Maha Fahli, a freshman political science major from Casablanca, Morocco who attended the picnic. "I'm excited to be in the U.S. for a degree and to get the American college experience. I'm open to learning about new cultures and I hope that people want to learn about Morocco - a beautiful, open-minded country that is my home."

In conjunction with an extensive new digital recruiting plan being launched this fall by the Office of Admissions, the Center for Global Engagement is involved in new outreach initiatives, including collaborating with a former Indiana State University employee who works in Shanghai. The hope is to begin long-term conversations with Chinese students and their parents that will help put Indiana State on the radars sooner.

"The Chinese Consulate in Chicago visited over the summer and they really liked ISU - the size, cost of the university and the community," McGrew said. "They were really surprised that we don't have more Chinese students, so they've invited us to meet with them and help us attract more Chinese students."

Efforts also are ongoing to encourage domestic students to broaden their horizons through study abroad or faculty-led trips that continue to grow in popularity, McGrew said.

"We encourage students to do international travel and have the confidence to share their different perspectives in their classrooms," he said. "We're always looking for ways that allow our students who go to other countries to use their experiential learning when they come back to campus to encourage other students to study abroad opportunities."

Contact: Chris McGrew, director, Center for Global Engagement, Indiana State University, 812-237-4325 or

Writer: Betsy Simon, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or

Story Highlights

Seventy-seven countries are represented on campus, including three new countries - Norway, Granada and The Netherlands. Of the 1,057 international students enrolled at Indiana State, 747 are at the undergraduate level - an increase of 6 students.

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