UA Celebrates Increase in Global Enrollment
International Education Week promotes an environment of cultural inclusion at the UA through a series of globally inspired events and a celebration of individuals devoted to international education and service.

By Jordyn Stinnett, UA Office of Global Initiatives
Nov. 13, 2017

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The International #GlobalWildcat Pep Rally is one of the events on tap for International Education Week.
The International #GlobalWildcat Pep Rally is one of the events on tap for International Education Week.

International Education Week unites colleges, departments and units across the University of Arizona campus to celebrate global partnerships, programs and initiatives, as well as international students, faculty and scholars. Despite steep declines in international student enrollment at some U.S. colleges and universities, the UA is showing an increase in the number of those students.

The UA hosts more than 1,600 international faculty members and scholars. The most recent numbers from International Student Services show that more than 3,900 international students from 110 countries are currently enrolled in UA undergraduate, graduate and professional degree-seeking programs — an increase of nearly 3 percent over fall 2016.

"Celebrating International Education Week at the UA is extremely important because it allows us to pause and reflect on what we do globally, and also celebrate the students, faculty and scholars coming to us from the far corners of the globe — each of whom contributes greatly to the cultural, linguistic and intellectual diversity of our community, " said Suzanne Panferov, interim vice president of the Office of Global Initiatives.

An effort of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, IEW is a nationwide program spearheaded at the UA by the Office of Global Initiatives, although it is open to the entire campus community. During the week, Wildcats celebrate global connections through an array of events, including a pep rally at Arizona Stadium and a talent show at Main Gate Square's Geronimo Plaza.

Student, Faculty and Scholar Mobility

The UA promotes diversity on campus in a number of ways, including global mobility, meaning that international students, faculty and scholars are received on campus while domestic students have the opportunity to study abroad.

"International student numbers are holding steady because we are known as a prime destination among generations of global UA alumni," Panferov said. "This history of quality, and especially our attention to international partners who sponsor scholarships, creates a resilient flow of students. Our new global micro-campus initiatives in China and Cambodia have also increased our international student count, though these students are not here on the main campus."

The number of international non-degree-seeking students has increased from approximately 100 in 2016 to about 500 today, largely the result of the micro-campus model, which provides international students access to a UA education in their home countries.

Retention rates also are strong among the international student population. The 2017-2018 one-year retention rate for international students is nearly 89 percent — the highest ever recorded at the UA.

"International students have a lot invested to come here for an education," said Lara Pfaff, program coordinator for international student development with International Student Services. "I also hope our unique programs have something to do with strong retention rates. We strive to support retention by conducting workshops, hosting social gatherings and personally connecting with international students. Events such as International Education Week contribute to a welcoming campus environment, which is important to student success."

Also supporting global education, UA Study Abroad sends about 1,300 students on international trips each year through programs in 60 countries. This gives domestic students the opportunity to strengthen their intercultural competence while earning credits toward their degrees.

"At any given time, we have hundreds of UA students and scholars touring the world, learning new languages, new points of view and new ways of being," Panferov said. "We celebrate this global richness with hundreds of other universities across the United States during International Education Week."

Global Excellence Awards

A tradition of IEW, the Global Excellence Awards, presented by the Office of Global Initiatives and the Center for English as a Second Language, recognize three individuals who have demonstrated a strong commitment to international education and service. These three were nominated and selected for 2017:

Excellence in Global Education Award
Jenny J. Lee, professor at the Center for the Study of Higher Education

Lee has long advocated for international students in all areas of her work. For the past decade, her scholarship widely informed international student access to higher education and their experiences in the U.S. and abroad. Her current research focuses on international student travel within the African continent, which stemmed from her Fulbright experience in South Africa four years ago. Most recently, she is leading a project to evaluate the newly established micro-campus model of the UA. Additionally, Lee is a NAFSA Senior Fellow for Internationalization, associate editor for the Review of Higher Education and co-editor of the book series "Studies in Global Higher Education." 

  • What sparked your passion for research and teaching in global higher education? I have long observed the unique challenges of international students in the U.S. As a child of immigrants to the U.S., my family experienced many similar difficulties. My hope is to give voice to those who are unheard, and to help local communities and universities recognize that international students play a significant role in higher education.
  • What are you particularly proud of during your time at the UA? I've always been most proud of my students, particularly my international students, who I have had the honor to mentor and advise. In many ways, they have taught me as much as I have taught them.
  • What is an important issue to consider for the future of international education? In addition to attempted travel bans in the U.S. against those from Muslim-majority countries, anti-immigrant and anti-international sentiments have become part of mainstream discourse in many societies. With this in mind, it becomes especially important that international education not be reduced to simply more activities abroad, but to thoughtfully consider the "education" taking place within our work.

Excellence in Global Service Award
Ricardo Pineda Albarran, Consul of Mexico in Tucson

As an ambassador of Mexico's Foreign Service, Pineda serves the Mexican communities in Pima and Pinal counties. Beyond supporting human rights and promoting tourism and investment, Pineda is a staunch advocate of the UA. He is frequently seen on campus attending activities that promote an enhanced understanding of Mexican culture, politics and economics. Prior to his appointment in Tucson, he established the first Consulate of Mexico in Boise, Idaho, and served in leadership positions at the Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego and at the Embassy of Mexico in Washington, D.C.

  • What inspired you to join Mexico's Foreign Service in the U.S.? Given the importance of U.S.–Mexico relations and the presence of the Mexican community in the U.S., the opportunity to represent and serve Mexico and its citizens abroad is what motivated my work with the Foreign Service.
  • What is your favorite part of serving the community of Tucson? I enjoy the ability to help strengthen the relationship between Tucson and Mexico by building bridges in many areas — academic, social and economic — and helping our communities grow.
  • What is an initiative during your tenure in Tucson that you are particularly proud of? More than one initiative, we have been able to consolidate a strong presence in many areas, from the academy to business and trade, and strengthen our services through the establishment of new offices and the creation of the Center for Information and Assistance to Mexicans.

Student Award for Global Excellence
Jenna A. Altherr Flores, Ph.D. candidate, Second Language Acquisition & Teaching

As a Peace Corps Coverdell Fellow, a leader for Arizona TESOL and TESOL International, and a scholar dedicated to the literacy of refugee-background adults, Altherr Flores has a demonstrated commitment to global education. She has provided thousands of hours of service to underserved communities in Tucson, including work as an English and literacy instructor for the Refugee Education Program. In addition to teaching, she conducts trainings for community volunteers about how to teach language and literacy to adults from refugee backgrounds. Upon completing her doctorate, she hopes to obtain a position at a research university where she can continue her work.

  • What initiated your interest in language and literacy education among refugee populations? After serving in the Peace Corps as an ESL and literacy instructor and teacher trainer, I returned to the U.S. seeking to continue this type of work with an underserved population in my local community. 
  • What is most rewarding about working in the Tucson community? Not only does Tucson have a strong, supportive network of service providers and community partners, but also the resettled refugee population here is very diverse. In my classes, I have taught students from 16 countries who speak a large variety of languages. 
  • What scholarly work have you conducted that you are most proud of? My research concerning how L2 adult emergent readers from refugee backgrounds construct meaning from assessment texts uncovers ideologies of text design and literacy, and provides recommendations for text design for students from this population.

Extra info

International Education Week Events

Tuesday, Nov. 14, 5:30 p.m.
Around the World in 7.5 Minutes
Sonora Room, Student Union Memorial Center

Tuesday, Nov. 14, 6 p.m.
"The Tent Village"
The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 10 a.m.
A Worldwide Welcome at the UA Libraries
Main Library, 1510 E. University Blvd.

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 11 a.m.
Fun With Language(s)
UA Mall (Alumni Plaza)

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 3 p.m.
Doing History With Images and Words
Marshall Building, Suite 211, 845 N. Park Ave.

Wednesday, Nov. 15, 4 p.m.
International #GlobalWildcat Pep Rally
Arizona Stadium

Thursday, Nov. 16, 10 a.m.
UNAM-Tucson Open House
939 N. Tyndall Ave.

Thursday, Nov. 16, 4:30 p.m.
America Is Here: Visual Culture and International Affairs – U.S. and Brazil
Manuel Pacheco ILC Building, Room 130

Friday, Nov. 17, 10 a.m.
How Are Images Born? An Approach to Visual History
Marshall Building, Suite 211, 845 N. Park Ave.

Friday, Nov. 17, 1 p.m.
Dive Into Diversity: Applying Intercultural Competence to Teaching and Learning
Manuel Pacheco ILC Building, Room 136

Friday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m.
"Honour: Confessions of a Mumbai Courtesan"
Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave.

Saturday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m.
International Students Got Talent 6 TALENT SHOW
Geronimo Plaza @ Main Gate Square, 800 E. University Blvd.

For a complete list of International Education Week events, visit