International Student Experience

Committee on the International Student Experience

In an increasingly interconnected world, international students are critical to the diversity sought by institutions of higher learning across the country. At the University of Chicago, where the commitment to diversity is grounded in an understanding that multiple distinct perspectives are a prerequisite to rigorous inquiry, international students make up almost 20 percent of the student body. Their presence enriches the experience of all students both inside and outside of the classroom.

As a result of conversations with international students, particularly graduate students, Kim Goff Crews, Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students in the University in 2008 initiated a process to improve service to international students in the University. She charged a committee consisting of University faculty, students and staff to study the experience of international students and make recommendations for improved support. The International Student Experience Committee submitted its final report in November 2009, making three over-arching recommendations:

1. Centralize services and programs for international students

Create a central administrative office, dedicated to the life of international students, to reduce redundancy in programming and service-provision, and ease the complexity of navigating our decentralized University structure. This office would be responsible for immigration advising, orientation, English language support, and social/cultural programming.

2. Create an international student center

Dedicate a physical location for all activities related to the support of international students. International House (I-House) was overwhelmingly identified as the logical location for such a center. International House already provides housing for international students as well as space for the current Office of International Affairs (OIA); however, currently the House does not play a central role in the daily life of international students.

3. Improve communication with and among international students

Enhance systems that facilitate reciprocal communication between international students and the University, as well as encourage peer-to-peer support. These communication enhancements would be implemented and sustained by the central office dedicated to the life of international students.

The report is now online.

Since the report was submitted, Campus and Student Life and the Office of International Affairs (OIA) have taken a number of steps to implement these recommendations. Read more about the recommendations and implementation


To ensure that international students have access to supportive services such that they are able to do their best academic work. To that end, the committee will:

  • conduct an inventory of current programs and services provided for degree-seeking and visiting international students in the College, divisions, and the professional schools
  • conduct a needs assessment among current international students
  • make recommendations aimed at improving the quality of the experience for current and future international students.


Faculty survey: All faculty will be invited to participate in a survey designed to capture their perspective on the international student experience. The results will be aggregated and represented in the committee's final report to Kim Goff-Crews.

Focus groups with international students are scheduled for the following days and times:

Professional School student focus group: Monday, Feb 23, 2009: Noon - 1:15 p.m., Chicago Booth, Room 223

College student focus group: Tuesday, March 3, 2009: Noon - 1:15 p.m., Chicago Booth, Room 223, Graduate student focus group: Wednesday, March 4, 2009: Noon - 1:15 p.m., Chicago Booth, Room 219

International student survey: 
All international students will be invited to participate in a survey.  The results will be aggregated and represented in the committee's final report to Kim Goff-Crews.

Peer Review:
The committee will gather information from peer institutions regarding programs and services offered to international students and their families.

Committee Membership

Ann Harvilla, Chair (
Dean of Students in the FT MBA program 

Celia Bergman, staff co-ordinator (
Assoc. Dean of Students for Student Health and Administrative Affairs 

Fiyinfolu Balogun (
Medicine/Pathology, Graduate Student 

Steve Jia (
Chicago Booth, Graduate Student 

Elizabeth Davenport (
Dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel 

Tamara Felden (
Director of the Office of International Affairs 

Bill McCartney (
Director of International House 

Bozena Shallcross (
Professor in Slavic Languages and Literature, and the College 

Mauricio Tenorio (
Professor in the Department of History and the College 

Adama Wiltshire (
The College, Political Science & History, 3rd year 

Tom Witten (
Professor in the Department of Physics, the James Franck Institute, and the College 

Shu-Ju Yang (
SSD, Psychology, Graduate Student

To offer input or seek more information please contact Celia Bergman (