Students and Scholars

Campus Launches New Summer Start Program to Help International Freshmen Succeed

Incoming international freshmen at UC Davis now have the opportunity to participate in an innovative summer program, Summer Start. Developed by the Office of Undergraduate Education in partnership with UC Davis Extension’s Center for International Education, Summer Start consists of an intensive six-week academic preparation program created to help international undergraduates establish a strong academic, social and personal foundation prior to starting in fall quarter.

“Preparing our international undergraduates for success benefits our campus as a whole,” states Carolyn de la Peña, Interim Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. “International students provide important perspectives in our classrooms. Summer Start’s academic program is deliberately designed to give them the skills, confidence and familiarity with our campus culture so they can participate fully in the dynamic intellectual life of the university. Based on student response, the pilot program was an overall success, and we anticipate growth in the coming year.”

After taking online placement and diagnostic exams, students enroll in linguistics courses to prepare for the Entry Level Writing Requirement. Some students elect to take an advanced grammar course or to develop their verbal skills. Cultural activities and tours of campus are also included. Orientation addresses such topics as academic success and integrity to cultural adjustment.

“By the time fall quarter begins, these students have learned about their program requirements, understand how UC systems operate and know whom to ask when they don’t,” explains ESL coordinator Dawn Takaoglu. “In testing the remaining incoming freshmen for 2013, the contrast between Summer Start students and those who had just arrived was unquestionable,” she added.

Beth Greenwood, associate dean of the UC Davis Extension Center for International Education notes, “By creating a more diverse community, we are providing both international and U.S. students with the ability to learn from and about one another and increase their capacity for success in a globalized world.” 

UC Davis welcomes 2,232 International Scholars for Academic and Cultural Exchange

For the 2012-2013 (July 1 to June 30) Open Doors survey requested annually by the Institute of International Education, SISS reported 2,232 international scholars for UC Davis. This was essentially unchanged from the previous year’s count of 2,217. In 2011-2012, UC Davis ranked 9th of U.S. universities hosting the largest number of international scholars.

The list of top 15 countries sending international scholars to UC Davis changed little from 2011-2012, with the only change being the addition of Vietnam in 14th place, and Turkey dropping out of the top 15. The top 5 countries were ranked in the same order as the previous year, with China in first place followed by South Korea, Japan, India and Germany.

Of the total number of international scholars at UC Davis in 2012-2013, 1,530 were sponsored by the campus as part of the U.S. Department of State J-1 Exchange Visitor Program. UC Davis is one of over 900 colleges and universities in the country that has been designated by the State Department to sponsor international scholars who come to teach and conduct research as a J-1 Exchange Visitor. These scholars come to campus for a few months to a few years, mostly to do research with campus faculty.

Staff at SISS must be approved by the State Department to manage this program for UC Davis. An important requirement for this approval is the ongoing training that SISS staff receive to maintain their knowledge of the procedures and regulatory obligations of both the University and visiting scholars. SISS staff also work to ensure that these scholars feel welcome and to help connect them to campus and community resources.

For universities, this State Department program is an important source of international scholarly collaboration. J-1 scholars make up the single largest group of international scholars here at UC Davis. However, the U.S. government’s purpose for maintaining the J-1 Exchange Visitor program is much broader than academic exchange. The broader aim of this program is to further cultural exchange and the development of goodwill between the people of the U.S. and others around the world. SISS views both goals of academic collaboration and cultural exchange to be important in our work to make UC Davis the destination of choice for scholars around the world.

2013-2014 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program

The Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program is a dynamic and innovative program that brings professionals from around the globe to 17 universities in the U.S. for professional development, non-degree coursework and technical training. For over 20 years UC Davis has been administering this program funded by the Department of State Educational and Cultural Affairs and overseen by the Institute for International Education. This fall, the 11 UC Davis Humphrey Fellows include outstanding leaders in government, academia, and the social and private sectors. The Fellows will be here for 10 months, gaining experience and knowledge as well as enhancing their professional networks in the areas of agriculture, rural development, environmental sciences and renewable energy. While here, the Humphrey Fellows attend classes, conferences and workshops; engage in community service projects; and serve as both disciplinary experts and cultural ambassadors, ultimately benefiting not just their home countries but also the UC Davis campus and Davis community.