Article by Mike Koch

The Office of International Education (OIE) was initially established in the 1980s under the leadership of Dr. Uliana Gabara. Since that time, the office has greatly expanded its programs and responsibilities. I recently met with the new Dean of OIE, Dr. Martha Merritt, to learn more about the involvement her office has with students, faculty and staff. 

Dr. Merritt, who assumed her new position on August 1, previously served as the Deputy Dean at the University of Chicago. Prior to that she also held positions at the University of Notre Dame and the University of Texas. Much of her work and scholarship has focused on Russian politics and international education. Dr. Merritt has also lived and worked abroad (in multiple countries) for six years. She is excited to be a part of the UR and Richmond community.

OIE administers the Study Abroad program, which assists UR students who would like to study abroad. This international experience is considered an essential part of a UR education. Students in the program attend a college or university in a different country for a semester or year. The program has been well received by students; for the class of 2014, 57% of the students took Study Abroad for credit at least once and for the class of 2015, the number was up to 65%. Obviously Study Abroad has been a great success since its inception. 

OIE is the primary office for international students who now are approximately 10% of UR’s student body. OIE advises international students on immigration, employment, and health insurance, as well as academic, cultural, and practical matters. OIE also has a Host Family Program in which international students are matched with families of UR retirees, alumni, faculty, and staff. The international student doesn’t stay with the host family, but will participate with the host family on shopping trips, restaurants outings, or meals at the host’s home, etc. Our family has had a number of international students whom we’ve hosted, and it’s been a rewarding experience for us.

Dr. Merritt mentioned a number of other programs sponsored or co-sponsored by OIE, two of which may be of interest to all Osher members:

International Film Series – on various Fridays and Sundays through the fall, international films are shown on campus. The films are available to the general public, and they’re free! You should note that the films are all subtitled.

Global Music Series – Traditional music and dance from around the world are presented at the Weinstein International Center Commons; these concerts are free and open to everyone. There are three concerts this fall.

Many thanks to Dr. Merritt and her staff for sharing this information about the Office of International Education.
Dean and Carole M. Weinstein Chair of International Education