Mark Schlissel, president of the University of Michigan, emphasized the importance of international students and the global economy in a Detroit News editorial co-authored with Lou Anna Simon, president of Michigan State University, and M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University, on Thursday.

The three presidents wrote they believe it is essential to keep their doors open to foreign students, because it will lead to enhanced growth in Michigan’s innovation and economic growth.

“Our research universities give the people and businesses of our state an advantage in the global innovation economy,” Schlissel, Simon and Wilson wrote. “Keeping our doors open to the global community of scholars will enhance our ability to compete and power Michigan’s future.”

They also wrote more than 10 percent of students at their respective colleges come from foreign countries and Michigan’s economy retains much of their talent after they graduate.

“While the vast majority of our students come from the state of Michigan, we also attract more than 10 percent from foreign countries,” Schlissel, Simon and Wilson wrote. “And those who remain in the U.S. to work after graduation are nearly as likely as domestic students to stay in Michigan.”

Schlissel, Simon and Wilson also wrote international students contribute to diversity at each of their respective colleges and enhance knowledge as a result.

“Students from different places also help our campuses better reflect the global diversity our graduates are expected to understand, and they enhance the quality of our teaching and research,” they wrote.

The three presidents also added they agree with Gov. Rick Snyder’s comments that immigrants add to Michigan’s economic strength.

“We agree with Gov. Rick Snyder that immigrants have added significantly to the economic strength of our state,” the three wrote. “All three of our universities can better serve society — and our economy — because of international scholars.”

Schlissel, Simon and Wilson ended the editorial by writing about the achievements of three immigrant faculty members at each of their respective institutions, including UM Engineering Prof. Kamal Sarabandi, who is from Iran.

“Known as a leader in radar sensing, his [Sarabandi’s] research is used by NASA and U.S. Department of Defense,” Schlissel, Simon and Wilson wrote. “He holds 14 U.S. patents, has eight more pending, and has founded companies to market some of his technologies.”

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