Kevin Morrison has been hired as the next Director of the International Center. Morrison, who is currently the Director of Study Abroad at Elon University, will start at Macalester on May 29. The Mac Weekly interviewed him over email; his answers are printed below.
What sparked your interest in Macalester and the International Center?
I have been aware of Macalester for a number of years as an excellent liberal arts college that is committed to many of the same ideals I hold as an international educator. These include the strong emphasis on internationalism, multiculturalism, and service to community as outlined in the college’s mission statement. The work that the International Center is doing to promote off-campus study opportunities domestically and abroad is also high quality and focused on providing students with the best learning experiences possible. I was also intrigued by the composition of the Institute for Global Citizenship and look forward to being part of a dynamic organization that brings civic engagement, study away, and internship programs together. I am excited by the possibilities for collaboration between these areas and hope to contribute in meaningful ways.
Have you had similar roles in the past?
I have been working in International Education for 16 years in a variety of different capacities. My first job was working for the Japan Study Program at Waseda University, which brought me to the Macalester campus for the first time in fall of 1999 to promote the program to students and faculty. Currently I am the Director of Study Abroad at Elon University in North Carolina, where we send about 1200 students abroad per year.
The International Center has been without a director for a while now. What exactly will your role as director entail?
As I understand the position description, I will be contributing to leadership and vision within the the International Center as well as the Institute for Global Citizenship. I will also oversee the operation of the International Center and work with the staff to ensure we continue to follow good practice in advising and preparation for off-campus study experiences. Part of my work will also involve advising students for study away programs.
What will you bring to the International Center? Is there any changes that you would like to make?
I will bring a commitment to and passion for off-campus study. In addition I will draw on a collaborative and student-centered approach to my work that I think will mesh well with the current team in the International Center. I am also an advocate for continuous and incremental improvement, though [I] believe changes should be informed by evidence and thorough research. I plan to do a lot of listening to the International Center staff, students, and others on campus who have a vested interest in the International Center prior to developing or implementing any plans for change.
There have been a lot of issues with study abroad this year. Students have had their programs, countries, and semesters change last minute, causing a lot of confusion. How will you fix these problems?
I understand from reading the Off-Campus Study Handbook that Macalester has a commitment to distributing study abroad participation as evenly across semesters as possible. I also appreciate that changing semesters can be a concern for students who are trying to plan ahead and ensure that they are meeting all their other requirements. I look forward to examining the situation with both the SARC and the IC staff once I am on campus to see what can be done to improve the study abroad approval process and to work with students in a timely manner when changes must be made to what they have proposed in their application.
What are three things Macalester students should know about you?
I am passionate about my work with students and really enjoy investing my time and energy to help them achieve their goals—developing strong advising and mentoring relationships with students makes the work that much more enjoyable. I also have a strong commitment to issues of social justice and diversity and look forward to being part of a community that shares those values. Finally, my friends and colleagues would be quick to tell you that I am a bit of a ham, and whenever possible I love to perform—whether onstage in a play or musical, with a musical group, or at karaoke, I love being an amateur performer. Once I’m settled I hope to pursue my interest in the performing arts in my spare time.
Why should students study abroad?
Study abroad, or any off-campus study, provides students with new perspectives on themselves as well as exposure to other cultures and worldviews. The process of stepping outside the campus bubble challenges students to grow personally, develop new skill sets, and learn to interact with people from backgrounds often drastically different from their own. In addition, learning to live and function in another culture nurtures life and professional skills that are in demand in an increasingly global job market. These are just a few of the infinite number of reasons that students should consider studying away as part of their Macalester experience.
Anything else you would like to add?
Just that I am thrilled to be joining an excellent staff in the International Center and the Institute for Global Citizenship. I can’t wait to get to campus and throw myself into the Macalester community. I hope many of you will drop by in the fall and say hello.