Campus questions upcoming structure of merged Enrollment Management Office, International Student & Scholar Services

The International Student & Scholar Services will be moved from the Academic Affairs Office to the Enrollment Management Office in June 2017. With this change, the Enrollment Managment Office hopes to improve the process of recruiting students. Some members of the campus community are concerned about the impact of such a change on the actual programs and the quality of programs provided. (Ash Dean/Photo Editor)

The Enrollment Management Office has added International Student & Scholar Services to its division, removing the office from the Academic Affairs Office. The plan will take effect in June as a means of developing a comprehensive approach for strategic student recruitment. 

“The plan will allow us to be more efficient,” Vice President for Enrollment Management Meaghan Arena said. “We’ll be able to craft one recruitment strategy for the whole college and so everyone who is recruiting freshmen students will be on the same page.”

The ISSS staff and physical location will remain in Erwin. 

The division of the ISSS Office from Academic Affairs drew curiosity from staff in the International Programs Office as to how the new structure will affect international student programs. 

“I was hired to create an international student program for the office. The power of students connecting with one set of people and having that one set of people know them deeply cannot be replicated with another structure,” Director of the International Student & Scholar Services Mary Hope said.

ISSS currently accommodates to the needs of Geneseo’s international students, providing programs based in orientation, immigration services and cultural integration. 

The push to join ISSS with Enrollment Management stemmed from the vision to unite Geneseo’s recruitment efforts. 

“The Office of Admissions and the ISSS each have their own separate plans, and when you think about the power and the impact you could have by merging those and working as one team—it seems to be a more efficient approach and that was the motivation behind making the change,” said Arena. 

The decision to restructure the offices raises questions on how the Study Abroad Office and the ISSS can continue to work together in providing a home away from home for international students as well as offer certain services for students, such as an explanation provided to these students about the social security process. 

“One of the things that’s been really valuable about being here with the Study Abroad Office is that when you combine the three parts of international programs—ESLL, ISSS and Study Abroad—what you have is people who come into their career because they are deeply passionate about other cultures,” Hope said. “So the bottom line is that there’s a group of people here that have a shared philosophy.” 

ISSS expects to see a change in the reporting that currently exists within the department.

“ISSS is an integrated office, which means it goes from recruitment to admissions to orientation to immigration advising. If an international student is in the hospital, it’s that office that goes and makes sure that they’re not alone,” Assistant Provost for International Programs Rebecca Lewis said. “How the focus, in terms of budget and performance programs is allocated, is where a reporting line can make a difference.” 

These performance programs are expected to remain the same, but questions as to how the new structure will support what programs persists.

“Our office is extremely student services focused. Our hope is that we continue offering the same caliber of high quality student services,” Associate Director of ISSS Carly O’Keefe said. “That will continue to be my top priority.” 

The office agreed that the focus of the ISSS needs to remain on the students.

“All the services we provide are integral to retention,” O’Keefe said. “You can recruit and enroll international students in droves, but if the services aren’t in place, they’ll leave. That’s why all of that needs to be tied together.” 

A written plan for the structural change is still pending. The focus of both offices will remain on providing international students with the same experience. 

“My hope is that current students continue to see the same level of service,” Arena said.

Assistant news editor Zainab Tahir contributed reporting to this article.