Fri 12 Feb 2016
Here (doc) is a listing of the countries of origin of the 155 international students in the classes of 2015 — 2018. Let’s spend four days discussing it. This is Day 4.
we must develop a deeper understanding of what it means for Williams to be an international institution. We must simultaneously be local and global, building a very specific, Berkshires-based Williams that could only be found in this valley, while reaching out far beyond to prepare our students to be effective citizens not only of this country but of the world. Many pieces of this process seem obvious – bring international students to Williams, send Williams students to study abroad – but our conception of a global strategy is still emerging. We are, after all, not a sprawling multiversity but a small college of two thousand students, each here for four years and some thirty courses. We cannot simply add every desirable experience to our curriculum or to student life. We must become global within our existing scale and scope, and without chasing fashions or being driven by our shifting anxieties about America’s geopolitical position. Grappling with this question will require the engagement of our entire community, as our strategies will encompass the curriculum and extend into so much of what we do. And we must think of the internationalization of Williams as something that happens here in Williamstown, capitalizing on what this campus and region can offer.
It has been five years. Does Falk still believe this? I don’t know. This is exactly the vision that I have for Williams, the fundamental change that I have pushed and pushed and pushed for many years. I hope that future historians will mark this as the most important paragraph in the speech.
Recall our previous discussion about how Falk might make Williams “a college for all of the United States, and of the world.” Falk is, I think, explicitly rejecting the Middlebury Model of a global liberal arts college with facilities and programs all around the world. Reread these key phrases: “Berkshires-based Williams that could only be found in this valley” and “global within our existing scale and scope” and “happens here in Williamstown, capitalizing on what this campus and region can offer.” Falk has no plans to expand programs like Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford.
2) If you reject the Middlebury Model of offering facilities/programs everywhere and if you realize that there is no way — without tilting admissions toward dramatically more wealthy students — to enroll US applicants that are more “global,” then your only option “for Williams to be an international institution” is to dramatically increase foreign student enrollment. Reasonable people might disagree with that goal, might think that a Williams with 8% non-US citizens and quality study abroad options is international enough. But if you really believe Falk’s rhetoric, then your only choice is a major change in admissions.
Yet it has been five years. If Falk really wanted to make Williams more global, he would have done more than increase international enrollment from 37 (class of 2014) to 46 (class of 2018). Maybe he is about to start now? We can hope! What should he do?
1) Hire at least one member of the admissions office to work (and probably live) in Asia. The best person would probably be a recent Williams graduate, a citizen of one of the major feeder countries. That person would work on establishing relationships with the most elite English-immersion high schools in Asia. Recall our discussion about the Daewon Foreign Language High School. There are a score (50?) of schools of Daewon’s quality in China, South Korea, and the rest of Asian. We should know them and they should know us. We don’t need everyone in China to know about Williams. We just need the students and counselors of schools like Daewon to.
2) Increase admissions from China, Korea and other countries with high quality applicants. It is absurd that there are only 16 students from China and 11 from Korea among the 2,000 Ephs. Williams, could, in the class of 2020, have 25 from both countries (call it one per entry) without either decreasing the academic quality of the class or spending anymore on financial aid. (There are plenty of wealthy (or at least not poor), highly intelligent applicants currently attending elite high schools in Asia who would love to come to Williams, especially if a Williams admissions officer explained what it means to be the #1 liberal arts college in America.
Because of my naivete, I bet (link?) a fellow EphBlogger that Williams would be 20% international by the class of 2021. This looks like a bet that I am certain to lose. That makes me sad. But the battle continues.
If, 100 years ago, you wanted Williams to be the best college in the world, you should have argued against discriminating against Jews. If, today, you want Williams to be the best college in the world, you should be against quotas for international applicants. What do you want?
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