International students have looked to Luis Canales, director of the Institute for International Studies, for five years.
Next year, students will have a new face to turn to as Canales has accepted a new position as director of the Office of International Studies and Programs at Illinois State University in Bloomington, Ill.
Born in Tiquisate, Guatemala, Canales has experience with foreign studies himself. He spent about 16 years at the University of Louisville before coming to Murray in 2009.
“I consider Kentucky my second home,” Canales said.
Bringing Canales to the U.S. in the first place was brought about by his participation in the Fulbright Scholar Program.
According to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, “the Fulbright program offers grants to study, teach and conduct research for U.S. citizens to go abroad and for non-U.S. citizens to come to the United States.”
Under Canales’ leadership, the Institute for International Studies has significantly increased the number of international students on the Murray State campus.
Having just returned from a recruitment trip in Latin America, Canales said it was an area of the world that Murray State was overlooked before his arrival to campus.
He said the efforts of International Studies program are beginning to pay off, as evidenced by the increased number of students studying at the University from that area.
“We have also delivered the second professional development program for faculty and staff from Qingdao Agricultural University,” Canales said. “This program also provides excellent international opportunities for Murray State faculty, staff and students.”
He said a second group of eight faculty and six students will travel to China this summer to immerse themselves in Chinese culture and learn more about the Chinese higher education system.
“I think it is critical for us to diversify. We need to diversify in order for us to bring different perspectives into the classroom but also to ensure that Murray State has different sources of revenue – in case natural disasters or economic downturns strike and disrupt student mobility.”
Canales also said he thinks it is vital for Murray State to engage with the world.
“I don’t think there is a single university that can afford not to be globally engaged nowadays, if we are to be relevant. So, opportunities like the one we have with Qingdao offer us a venue to engage with the world,” he said.
On a day-to-day basis, Canales manages people and the IIS financial resources. He works to troubleshoot problems alongside students, faculty and staff and looks for business opportunities for his department.
“IIS helps domestic students by advising them about education abroad opportunities and by providing education abroad scholarships,” he said. “With regard to international students, we provide programs and services to help them achieve their personal, academic and professional goals.”
Canales said he has been fortunate to work with a highly dedicated team at Murray State.
He said they have accomplished a lot in five years and are positioned to excel even further thanks to the solid foundation they have built in the IIS department.
At Illinois State, Canales said he will fulfill many of the same obligations he does here. He said his transition should go smoothly after the experiences he has gained here.
“I am leaving Murray State with mixed feelings; I am going to miss the people with whom I work the most,” Canales said. “They care about what they do and work very hard to serve our constituencies.”
There will be a farewell reception for Canales April 29 from 4-5 p.m. in the lobby of Woods Hall.
Story by Alex Mahrenholz, Staff writer