The process of building diversity

By Da’Sha Tuck, Staff writer

Accuracy and attention to detail are two important concepts when working to build diversity at Murray State through international recruitment.

Bill McKibben, director for International Enrollment and Retention, believes international enrollment is extremely important for post-secondary institutions.

“This is an untapped enrollment source for new students to the university,” McKibben said.

Going Through the Process

Because international enrollment is so important, Murray State takes an in-depth approach to recruiting. They do this by first completing an “institutional analysis” to decide which destinations would provide the maxim result.

Weihong Gao, English as a Second Language (ESL) Director and interim director of international recruitment, said the most common countries pursued are in East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East.

The next step in the recruitment process is for Murray State recruiters to take trips to those countries and attend education fairs, visit partner universities, high schools and recruiting agencies, Gao said.

This process also includes meeting with the prospective students and their families. Gao said recruiters usually take two trips a semester.

After the trip has concluded, these recruiters remain in contact with the potential students, encouraging them to apply to Murray State. This connection is kept up through what is called armchair recruiting; contact maintained through email campaigns, social media, Skype, etc.

Gao said Murray State has been doing well with bringing in more diversity to the campus through international enrollment.

“Given our location and limited number of programs at the graduate level we are pleased,” she said.

Once applications have been completed, the International Admissions Office starts processing the potential students’ applications.

Murray State currently hosts more than 700 international students from more than 60 countries, Gao said. This includes 560 students taking university classes and those enrolled in ESL courses.

Even once all the paperwork has been completed and these new students arrive in the U.S., the work is not finished.

The International recruiting office even goes as far as arranging airport pickup for these new students and transportation to Murray.

Several other support avenues are offered by the International Recruiting Office once they are settled on campus. Translators are readily available, students are assisted with their residential check-in process and are even with tasks such as setting up bank accounts.

Gao said having international students enrolled at Murray State positively impacts the campus as well as the Murray community. She said it is beneficial to the American students to be exposed to different cultures.

“Having a diversified student body aids in breaking down negative cultural connotations and helps eliminate some common stereotypes,” McKibben said.

From the Student’s Perspective

Nadia Khan, graduate Nonprofit Leadership student from northern Pakistan, has been attending Murray State for more than a year.

Khan first heard about Murray State through her academic advisor in Pakistan. He is currently working as a registered agent with Murray State’s International Recruitment Office.

She said her decision to attend Murray State was not difficult because Murray State had academic programs that intrigued her. Khan said the rest is history.

Coming to America was a bit of a culture shock, Khan said.

“The people here are more casual and friendly, traveling is more expensive, fast food is common among youngsters and the weather is unpredictable in this country,” she said. “One thing I like is how Americans love coffee and I love coffee.”

Khan said she feels accepted and included in all aspects of her life on Murray State’s campus. She works in the International Recruitment Office as a graduate assistant.

Although she feels accepted in Murray, one drawback is being so far away from family. Khan said this is an area where the International Recruitment Office could help more.

“The International Recruitment office needs to work on the effective communication and understand that these students who are coming all the way from another part of the world need moral support,” Khan said.

The International Recruitment Office has a goal of making international students at least 10 percent of the campus population.

“Students are the future of one’s country,” McKibben said. “Having global citizens who are well-versed with different cultures and backgrounds will help ensure that our world is a better place.”