Monday, May 21, 2018

Light Rain, 68 °F


Outside of the Walter International Education Center.

Photographer: Stephanie Morrison


Meet and greets are just one service that the center offers.

Photographer: Stephanie Morrison


Students wait for their turn during open advising hours.

Photographer: Stephanie Morrison

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Ohio University’s Walter International Education Center: One year later

On March 7, 2011, the Walter International Education Center (WIEC) officially opened for business. The former Sigma Chi fraternity house was repurposed to house both International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS) and the Office of Education Abroad (OEA) in an effort to enhance collaboration between these two OHIO international education units.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified building—OHIO’s first to gain silver certification—is centrally located at 15 Park Place, beside Baker University Center. This central University location offers increased visibility of and access to international education services, said Daniel Weiner, executive director of the Center for International Studies.

“The prime location sends the message to faculty and parents that international education is important to OHIO,” he explained.

A generous $2 million gift by Robert Walter, a 1967 mechanical engineering graduate and Sigma Chi member, and his wife, Margaret Walter, a 1967 fine arts graduate, through the Walter Family Foundation made the building project possible. The University worked in partnership with the Sigma Chi Fraternity and one year later, staff at both ISFS and OEA said they are extremely satisfied with the outcomes from combining their efforts. This story features photos of the people and places seen at WIEC on any given day. It shows the impact and benefits the center has had for all students seeking to enhance their OHIO experience.

Photo 1: Both Catherine Marshall, director of OEA, and Krista McCallum Beatty, director of ISFS, said one of the benefits they most appreciate is the space offered by the WIEC.

“We have access to programming space when other campus buildings are closed,” McCallum Beatty said. “We didn’t have that before.”

Marshall added that the availability of conference rooms and a larger resource library has made for a more professional work environment. Weiner, too, sees the benefits provided by the new location.

“It creates an administrative structure for more cross-fertilization of ideas and programs,” he said.

Photo 2: Every other week, the WIEC hosts "Global Meet and Greets," an event that brings global and domestic cultures together under one roof. Each event focuses on a different region to help educate students about a particular region’s culture.

Pictured here are (left to right), Hector Bustamante and Lo Martinez at the Latin American event.

“They have very quickly become regular events,” McCallum Beatty said. “Students look forward to them.”

The center and events like these have helped create a homebase for international students on campus, said McCallum Beatty. First-year graduate student Mohammad Shafiq said that the WIEC not only educates domestic students about other cultures, but international students on American culture as well.

“It’s a place of cultural exchange,” Shafiq said. “I’ve been able to learn about American culture here.”

Photo 3: Lei Han waits while another student talks to an advisor. According to Marshall and McCallum Beatty, the amount of walk-in advising requests has significantly increased since the WIEC opened last year. The Office of Education Abroad has seen student engagement increase 26 percent - equaling about 200 students - during fall and winter quarter this academic year. They speculate it may be due to the more centralized location of the WIEC.

Looking ahead

The WIEC continues to grow and work toward maximizing its potential for collaboration between OEA and ISFA, combining new events with those that have been successful in the past. Both collaborated on the May 13 kickoff of International Week, which featured its annual Street Fair as well as a new tea-tasting event. For a photo recap of International Week, visit http://www.ohio.edu/compass/stories/11-12/5/international-fair-2012.cfm.