Dean of International Studies at Providence College Tells All

Providence College was one of Abroad101’s very first partners and recently we had the chance to catch-up with Adrian Beaulieu, Dean of International Studies at Providence College.  He also recently became a new member of our customer advisory board and we’re thrilled to have him. We talked about Providence, international education and all things study abroad. He had great insight into the study abroad community and how Abroad101 has been valuable to their Study Abroad program. See what he had to say below.

Abroad101: Tell us about yourself and your position at Providence College.

Dean Beaulieu: As the first dean of international studies at Providence College (PC),  this has been an exciting and professionally rewarding time to be here, since I arrived in April 2007.  Our focus has been twofold: to provide support services for our international students who formerly had no one office or individual to go to for assistance once they arrived and secondly, to make study abroad an integral component of the undergraduate academic experience for our students.  By going to home school tuition with full-aid portability, we’ve doubled study abroad participation from 13 to 26%. Now, our new strategic plan calls for 30% semester participation and we will likely reach that next year. Some on campus might want to issue us a ‘speeding ticket’ but when an institution is ready to move ahead on something, you likely only get that chance once.  The Jersey barriers will prop up soon enough.

Abroad101: How did you get involved in international education?

Dean Beaulieu: Well, as most education abroad professionals of the “boomer generation”, many of us came to it somewhat serendipitously or by appointment.  Many in fact were from the Peace Corps or some other international experience.  Frankly, there was no career path or specialized degree programs as there are now, with young people consciously choosing to enter the field as a career.  That’s terrific and it speaks to the professionalization of the field, which needed to happen.  I’ve been in higher education for 24 years, having worked at four institutions (Catholic University, George Washington, Smith, and PC) and in study abroad for 17 of those years.  My only regret is not having started sooner.

Abroad101: Did you study abroad as a student? Where did you go? What was it like?

Dean Beaulieu: I did not study abroad while a college student.  In fact, few students at that time did. That was reserved mostly for language majors and for students who could afford to do so.  But, no regrets, as I’ve been making up for it ever since – I’ve now been to more countries than I’ve seen states.  In my early 30s, I did spend a summer in Paris (Issy les Moulineaux, to be precise) studying an arcane subject, the French School of Spirituality. Mainly, I rode the subway of Paris until my carte orange turned blue from exhaustion – if they had a frequent rider program back then, they would have given me a life-time pass.  One of my great memories that summer was the Tour de France going by my front door on the final day on the way to the Champs Elysees.

Abroad101: What aspect of Abroad101’s mission resonates with you?

Dean Beaulieu: What I most admire is that Abroad 101 came out of the study abroad experience of Mike and Adam.  Clearly, studying abroad transformed them to pursue a dream that was borne from the experience.  That’s why I’ve been very supportive of Abroad 101.  And now, it’s evolving into a resource with great potential for the profession.  So, Abroad 101 is truly a case of someone who followed their passion and created something all of us can now benefit from.

Abroad101: How have you seen our software help you and the university?

Dean Beaulieu: Online evaluations make it simpler for students to use, for us to compile and assess, and to share as needed with our various constituents, such as faculty and other students.  Plus, a few trees out there are still standing as a result of going ‘green’ here.

Abroad101: What trends are you seeing in international ed?

Dean Beaulieu: In one word – assessment.  All international program offices are either doing it or being asked to do so.  It’s critical to knowing what impact education abroad is having on students. The challenge is how do we do it, what instrument(s) do we use, and what then to do with the findings.  For small offices, it’s a double challenge in not having the resources or staffing to do this by ourselves. Clearly, we will need assistance, at reasonable expense of time and money, to do this right.  I’ve encouraged Abroad 101 to consider how they might be a resource for the field on this.