View From Abroad
Far-flung alumni gather and renew their Mizzou connections.
It’s not often that members of the Mizzou Alumni Association perform volunteer work in the wee hours of the morning. But Christine Chan, BJ ’06, MA ’08, has pulled more than one all-nighter for her alma mater. From her home in Singapore, the international representative on the association’s Governing Board has stayed up for conference calls to lend her international perspective.
Chan, a financial graphics journalist for Reuter’s news agency, has had a hand in arranging some of the first association alumni gatherings in Asia. Starting in 2006, she worked with the first international board member, Chern Yeh Kwok, BJ ’00, to host a few events in Singapore. “On one hand, it was a platform for networking, on the other, it was just fun to meet Tigers and hear about their experiences at MU,” Chan says.
The event’s success encouraged Chan, who resolved to organize more events, including co-hosting one in Tokyo Nov. 10, 2011, with Takanori Yuasa, an international studies major at MU. “We held it in a quaint restaurant near Shinjuku on a lovely evening. This was the first time I’ve met some of these alumni, and it was really good to connect with them. Several said they are excited to see alumni events in Japan.”
Chan’s work is one way the association is taking up the campus goal to increase interaction overseas with universities, businesses and alumni. She says the association seeks to increase overseas membership and form chapters in places with a critical mass of alumni. “We want to be proactive by engaging alumni abroad and keeping them connected to the association and university. Many international students become extremely successful and proud graduates. They are MU’s ambassadors to the world. I believe they can be a formidable force when it comes to international recruitment.”
The university starts to foster that family feeling while international students are still on campus, says Todd McCubbin, executive director of the association. For instance, he says, “We are reaching out to include internationals in campus traditions like Tiger Walk. And a new task force to diversify Homecoming will look at including international students more. We need to teach each student our traditions and welcome them.”
The association and university are extending print and electronic communications internationally. MIZZOU magazine now goes to all alumni overseas, as does the @mizzou electronic newsletter. “MIZZOU magazine is the baseline tool for all our alumni communication,” McCubbin says. “We send it abroad quarterly with a letter from the chancellor, who is committed to developing the university’s international presence and status.”
The initiatives also include hiring an international recruiter, John Wilkerson, who started in September 2011. His goal is to increase undergraduate enrollment of internationals to 5 percent within five years. “Corporations tell us they want globally minded graduates,” he says. “We want to create balanced and diverse student populations.” In his work, Wilkerson not only travels, but also uses a global network of alumni and educational organizations to present MU to prospective students. In spring 2012, the university will recruit in 24 countries.
International students are eligible for scholarships, including from the association’s Global Scholars Program, named for Valerie Goodin, BS Ed ’67, M Ed ’75. She started developing relationships with overseas alumni as an association staff member and continues in retirement.
The generosity flows both ways, McCubbin says. “After the Joplin tornado, several Korean alumni held a golf tournament in Mizzou’s name to raise money for the relief effort. That’s a great way of honoring the university. As students, they come to a foreign country, and they work hard to earn a degree. They are proud of Mizzou.”