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SHSU Representatives
At Budapest Conference

In years past, a university considered itself internationally involved if it had a summer program in an exotic place or participated in an occasional foreign exchange program for faculty or students.

Now American universities are broadening their involvement to assist in solving educational problems that are of worldwide concern, working toward more international communication and cooperation in higher education, and promoting the principles of democracy.

A recent trip by six Sam Houston State University faculty members and a representative of the university's board of regents is an example of the leadership role that SHSU is taking in that effort, which is expected to increase overall international awareness and capabilities by SHSU faculty and students.

The Texas contingent gave presentations at the 10th Annual Conference of the Alliance of Universities for Democracy Nov. 7-10 in Budapest, Hungary.

David Payne, vice president for academic affairs, is a member of the board of directors of the alliance, which was formed in 1990 and has more than 100 members, most from Eastern Europe and 20 from the United States.

The alliance works to enhance the role of education in promoting democratic institutions, economic development including technology transfer, decentralized decision making, human health, sustainable habitation of the earth, and common moral and social values.

Payne and Donald Coers, associate vice president for academic affairs, presented a paper on accreditation practices in the United States. SHSU recently completed a successful accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Universities. Payne and Coers explained the role that faculty and staff played in this important part of the American educational system.

More than 200 delegates attended the meeting, which included sessions on a broad range of issues. Payne said he expects that SHSU involvement in the alliance will also lead to faculty exchanges, visits by international students and joint research projects. Next summer SHSU will have summer study programs in Mexico, France, Italy and China.

"It's really important that we internationalize our university so that our students are prepared to operate in the increasingly global environment," said Payne.

Fernando Gomez, vice chancellor and general counsel of the Texas State University System, spoke on legal trends in American Higher Education. Thelma Douglass, vice president for student services at SHSU, and John Delaney, associate vice president for student services, made a joint presentation on student support services in the United States.

Charles Stowe, professor of business administration and director of international programs at SHSU, gave a paper on "intellectual capital in higher education." Richard Ward, dean of the College of Criminal Justice, spoke on advanced education for police professionals in Eastern Europe.

The growing importance of international communication and cooperation and the role of technology in achieving that goal was an underlying theme of the conference. The keynote speaker, Professor Michael Thomas of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, emphasized the role that the Internet and other forms of communication will play in changing the educational and social structure of the world.

Bobby K. Marks, Sam Houston State president, said that international involvement is one of the primary goals of his administration.

"We are proud to be taking a leadership role in this international higher education organization," said Marks. "As a university, we are committed to goals of broadening our international awareness and increasing faculty and student participation in the international community as an important part of a well-rounded educational experience. The activity of this delegation was an important step in building the relationships and connections to promote that goal."

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SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
November 19, 1999
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