Student trips to continue

Amye Buckley

International trips put on temporary hold in December will continue as planned.

The travel moratorium issued late in the fall semester launched administrators into a flurry of discussions regarding travel expenses for faculty leading summer trips, faculty compensation and $1,000 supplementary grants given to students by the University.

A Dec. 22 e-mail from University President Bruce Speck announced this year’s trips would continue as planned, although cost to the University was estimated at $78,000.

Some compromises were made. Faculty compensation was adjusted to the new summer pay scale. Student grants for one trip were reduced to the standard $1000 level.

Some students had already purchased non-refundable tickets and Speck said progress towards the impending trips was considered as the administration weighed expenses.

“We realized that the best thing to do in this situation was to go ahead and follow through on that commitment,” Speck said. “We knew that it was going to cost us that amount of money. We at least knew what we were getting into in that regard and that this was the good faith effort we should make.”

No decision, however, has been made on funding for students traveling independent of the approved groups. In the past about 20 students would apply for remaining grant money each spring. Applications are available, but no policy has been established.

Students majoring in international business, foreign languages, international studies or honor students are required to study internationally. Many travel with the group trips, but some opt for a semester abroad or a program not affiliated directly with MSSU.

Approval for future trips rests, in part, on the recommendations of a joint task force with its members appointed by both the administration and Faculty Senate. Tasked with evaluating the international mission and its application at MSSU, the group met twice this week in an effort to establish a time line, goals and subcommittees.

“We’re shooting for a report by the end of the semester,” said Dr. Roger Chelf, incoming Faculty Senate president and professor of physical science.

Speck said he had trust in the committee’s report as a reorganizational effort. He is also interested in ensuring exposure of a wider segment of the student body to the international mission by using the themed semesters.

“That really satisfies the kind of requirement that everybody on campus is engaged in the international mission,” Speck said. “One of the things that we need to figure out -which I don’t think we can answer now – is that when people graduate from here can we guarantee that they get this much international mission, whatever that amount is.”

“Research,” said Dr. Chris Moos, assistant professor of international business, “champions the cause of an international business Education and real-life experience.”

Moos said businesses who hire employees with international business experience claim higher profits, a benefit he wants to offer to companies who employ his graduates.

“I am glad they approved all the trips,” Moos said. “I am a firm believer in the travel experience for students.”

While he does not debate the importance of the international experience, Speck is looking for a balance in funding the program while maintaining it.

“There is no doubt in my mind that travel, international travel, adds a dimension to a person’s education that is hard to replicate in other ways. I don’t know anyone who could argue with that successfully,” Speck said.

“It’s not a matter of saying that international travel is not important. It’s a matter of who funds it, how much do you fund it and who gets it. And those are the questions I don’t think we’ve ever seriously asked.”