CWRU opens Center for International Affairs to ramp up global efforts

When Case Western Reserve University launched its strategic plan in June 2008, one of its key goals was to enhance the international character of the university, including building partnerships across the globe and providing students more opportunities for significant international experiences. Now this goal is one step closer to reality, as the university opened its new Center for International Affairs in September.

The center, which is located just off the lobby in Tomlinson Hall, has three components: the longstanding Office of International Student Services, the newer Office of International Affairs and the brand-new Office of Education Abroad.

One benefit of having the three offices under one roof is to better inventory all international activity on campus, from short-term study abroad programs to faculty research endeavors, said Molly Watkins, director for International Affairs.

The Office of International Student Services assists incoming international students with immigration issues and on-campus programming, while the Office of International Affairs works to coordinate international initiatives on campus and broaden the global perspective of the institution, Watkins explained.

The newly formed Office of Education Abroad, which opened in September, will help students find a suitable study abroad program and work through the application process.

Currently, about 22 percent of students study abroad—a number that Watkins hopes to improve to 40 percent within a couple of years once students have easy access to the necessary resources.

“There are so many international opportunities around campus, but it’s hard to know who’s doing what,” she said. “We’re trying to be a place where someone could come and say, ‘I want to do something in Shanghai,’ and we could say, ‘OK, we have three faculty members there—let’s talk to them.’”

With short-term, faculty-led programs and semester- to year-long opportunities (including exchanges and internships) available, the university is certainly well equipped to increase the participation rates for students looking to study abroad.

“I could almost guarantee that if we have students who want to study abroad, we can find programs for them that will fit their academic goals and won’t postpone their graduation—unless they want to do so,” Watkins said.

For more information on studying abroad or the new Center for International Affairs, visit or stop by the brand-new offices in Tomlinson Hall.