Regents name International Institute an instructional unit

Thursday, September 8, 2016 - 5:54pm

The University of Michigan’s Board of Regents has approved a measure to designate the International Institute as an instructional unit. This change, according to LSA Dean Andrew Martin, will give the institute the ability to make joint appointments of faculty members across a range of departments, eventually creating the potential for a new Master's degree in International Studies.

“Shifting a portion of faculty effort to the International Institute will allow staff the flexibility to help grow existing programs and to plan for new ones,” Martin wrote in a memo to the board. “It also establishes greater faculty involvement and creates stable curricula for students in its undergraduate and master's programs.”

Since its creation in 1993 as a funding-only unit with a budget for teaching by faculty with appointments in other schools and colleges, the International Institute has seen growth in enrollment and student interest in affiliated programs.

Currently, the institute oversees 17 centers and programs that offer four concentrations and eight minors for undergraduate students, as well as six degree-offering programs open to graduate students.

The memo to the board cited issue of regularity with course offerings and further development of graduate programs as important components to the board’s resolution authorizing the institute’s rebranding, especially for new programs. 

“In order to serve students across the (International Institute), it needs dedicated faculty with area studies expertise who can develop and offer consistent courses to meet students’ curricular needs,” the resolution states. “Looking ahead to creating a new master’s degree program in International and Area Studies and offering an Accelerated Degree Program in International Studies, the (International Institute) will need faculty to teach and mentor students in these programs.”

Graduate students seeking master’s degrees in international studies can soon expect to find a curriculum that more closely reflects the ones established for undergraduate students, which requires specialization along thematic or regional lines, according to the resolution.

The institute’s director, Pauline Jones, wrote in an email that the recent change will not mean an increase or decrease in its annual $4 million budget. However, professors can now work with institute staff to develop more internationally focused courses and study abroad programs.

Jones said the institute has already begun the process of employing tenured UM faculty to collaborate with the institute faculty by transferring a number of faculty directors from the 17 centers and programs to the institute temporarily.

“This allows us to ‘borrow’ faculty effort to run our centers and programs as well as to teach courses for us. This enables us to ensure that students have access to a regular set of courses taught by tenured U-M faculty each year,” Jones wrote.

Though the institute’s new designation will allow for the appointment of tenured UM faculty, the resolution notes that their tenure may not be housed under the International Institute, but rather through their respective departments.