For some time, Houston Baptist University departments and professors have offered study abroad and domestic exchange opportunities for students in places ranging from Los Angeles to Aberdeen, Scotland.
Dr. Ronald Rexilius, HBU assistant provost, has been instrumental in placing an emphasis on international opportunities at HBU. “I grew up overseas; I was born in Vietnam and lived in Asia for the first 15 years of my life. I know that, especially in America, the best window for experiencing another culture is usually during your four years in college,” he said.
In 2009, Rexilius helped form the Center for Global Initiatives in Education (CGIE) at HBU. “It’s good to see other parts of the world and learn how people do things,” Rexilius said. “It’s a great way to learn a language as well.”
While the center facilitated travel for many students, it did not encompass all opportunities across HBU. Additionally, the University has often relied upon other universities or programs for setting curricula and agendas. “We want to make our program more HBU-centered,” Rexilius said.
Rexilius and University leadership are participating in the recently formed HBU Study Abroad Committee; Dr. Michael Rosato, associate provost for Academic Affairs, is serving as chair. The committee is working toward centralizing study abroad opportunities, making information more accessible and ensuring that HBU’s personality is a characteristic of each program.
“We’re trying to be more intentional about what types of opportunities we offer our students,” Rosato said. “HBU has a distinct mission. All that we do needs to be congruent with the mission of the institution.”
The committee’s goal isn’t to eliminate existing programs, but to strengthen and to streamline them. Furthermore, students may continue to enroll in current programs.
As part of centralizing external study opportunities, the committee is looking at ways in which the University might be able to offer greater support in cost and financial aid considerations, Rosato said. Students and parents should begin to see more information regarding programs as early as the fall of 2018, he said.
“We believe supplementary studies and study abroad opportunities are invaluable to students,” Rosato said. “It’s a unique experience for students to have experiential learning. We’d like to offer it to all students.”