UNM students in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the many foreign countries where UNM students have the opportunity to study. Photo courtesy UNM Global Education Office.

Almost two years after University of New Mexico President Robert Frank put together UNM 2020, the Education Abroad office recently announced that it has already sent 711 undergraduate and graduate students to study abroad during the 2013-14 academic year, exceeding Frank’s 2015 goal of 670 students by almost eight percent a year before the deadline of 2015.

The current numbers reflect an overall increase of 28 percent from the 2011-12 baseline figure of 559. And the total is still climbing; by the end of the academic year in late August, UNM Education Abroad expects to announce an even higher tally for 2013-14 due to student participation in study abroad programs over the summer.

UNM 2020, a comprehensive strategic planning process that includes a major focus on expanding global education on campus, was created by Frank after his initiation in June 2012. He then tapped Dr. Mary Anne Saunders as his Special Assistant for Global Initiatives, tasking her with rebranding UNM’s Global Education Office (GEO) and expanding participation in its programs. One of the first milestones they established was to increase the number of outgoing education abroad students over the next several years.

Together, he, Saunders and Education Abroad Associate Director Dr. Ken Carpenter led the way and rapidly grew GEO’s outreach programs to students, faculty, and parents. Their outreach efforts in turn have created increased student interest in UNM’s study abroad programs.

“The education abroad staff has made tremendous efforts to increase their outreach on campus and provide specific advisement to students on the international programs available,” said Saunders. “We knew we could meet the goal for 2015 set by President Frank, but exceeding that number in just two years confirms that we are connecting with students and faculty, and making a strong impact on expanding international education opportunities.”

The accomplishment falls almost simultaneously with the announcement of UNM’s acceptance as a Generation Study Abroad partner, an initiative that was officially launched by the Institute of International Education (IIE) on March 3. The mission of Generation Study Abroad is to grow participation in U.S. education abroad programs, with a goal of sending 600,000 American students annually to study abroad by 2020.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to see our efforts and hard work come to fruition,” added Carpenter. “We still have more work ahead of us in order to triple our baseline number by 2020, but growing the number of our outgoing students this quickly is a strong sign that we will be able to meet that ultimate goal.”

The UNM Education Abroad office is located at 2120 Mesa Vista Hall. Walk-in advising hours are held daily from 1 to 3 p.m. Appointments are encouraged but not necessary to speak with an advisor. Education Abroad 101 sessions will be held every Thursday during the summer session from 1 to 1:30 p.m. Incoming freshmen are encouraged to visit the Education Abroad office while attending their orientation during the summer to learn more about how they can start planning to participate in a study abroad program.

For more information, visit the UNM Global Education Office, call 505-277-4032 or email studyabd@unm.edu.