Bowen encourages applications for overseas study scholarships
NEW PALTZ -- Just one year ago, a scholarship program to help financially needy college students study in a foreign country was a long shot bill wending through Congress. Today, that bill is the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program and the application window is open for the 2001-2002 academic year.
Today, at the annual meeting of the NAFSA-The Association of International Educators in Philadelphia, SUNY New Paltz President Roger Bowen encouraged his peers from other universities to take advantage of international opportunity presented in the program.
"A strong response to this program will convince our lawmakers in Washington that our American universities and our students are truly thirsting for the opportunity to study abroad," Bowen said. He made his remarks during a New Paltz-sponsored reception that included more than a dozen of New Paltz international partners and a dozen more American universities that participate in New Paltz international programs.
Later this week, New Paltz Director of International Programs, Bruce Sillner, will take part in a conference panel on public policy and study abroad. He will speak about New Paltz role in developing the Gilman International Scholarship and the pending New York State International Scholarship Program.
The Gilman International Scholarships will provide up to $5,000 for U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals who are undergraduate students at two year and four year institutions to pursue overseas study, enabling students who have limited financial means to participate in study abroad opportunities worldwide. Priority consideration for awards will be given to applicants of academic merit who receive Federal Pell Grants under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.
The Institute for International Education will administer the program through its Southern Regional Office in Houston, under a grant from the United States Department of State s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Total funding for the Gilman Program is $1.5 million in the first year. The Gilman Program was established under the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000, authored by then House International Relations Committee Chairman Benjamin A. Gilman (R-Greenville, N.Y.).
"In my years of experience with our nation s foreign policy, I see that the most enduring influence is achieved through our international exchange programs," Gilman said.
Bowen, who has been aggressively involved in expanding foreign study opportunities for students at New Paltz and at the national level, supported Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, R-Greenville, in writing the legislation. Since coming to New Paltz in 1996, the number of students participating in overseas study has doubled from seven to 14 percent of the student body.
"This program will open international opportunities to many deserving students who do not have the money to study abroad many of whom are here at New Paltz and other campuses in our SUNY system," said Bowen. "In the next five years, our goal at New Paltz is to send 20 percent of our students abroad to study."
IIE, which also manages the Fulbright program, views the Gilman program as a first step to prime the pump to send increasing numbers of American students overseas.
"American students should not leave college today without the ability to think and work on a global basis. Study abroad is an indispensable part of the undergraduate experience, and the Gilman International Scholarships are an important investment in making these opportunities accessible to students from a wide range of backgrounds," said IIE President Allan E. Goodman. "According to the Institute s Open Doors 2000 report, the 129,770 U.S. students who studied abroad for credit last year amounted to less than one percent of all Americans enrolled in our colleges and universities. Since international experience is such a critical factor for success in the 21st century, the Institute of International Education is committed to doubling the number of Americans that study abroad."
While the applications are available for the Gilman program, New York lawmakers are considering legislation to create the New York State International Scholarship Program that can be used in conjunction with the Gilman Scholarship.
As with the Gilman Scholarship, Bowen had a role in crafting the draft legislation, which was first introduced in the Assembly by Kevin Cahill (D-Kingston), then in the State Senate by Thomas P. Morahan (R-Nanuet).
"The International Opportunity Act of 2000 was a first step for the country to make an international study experience a reality for all undergraduate students," said the state bill s author, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (D-Kingston). "With our state program, we can make sure our New York college students can reap the benefits of overseas study without putting themselves in financial peril."
As drafted, the New York State International Scholarship will provide $1,000 to students receiving a Gilman Scholarship to help further offset travel and living costs associated with overseas study. The bill is now with the Assembly and Senate Higher Education committees.
While New York lawmakers are just beginning to consider the program, the language of Cahill s bill is already in statehouses across the country. The Institute for International Education adopted the language of the New York bill and forwarded it to all state governors as "model language" for international scholarship legislation.
"IIE would like to see comparable legislation introduced and enacted in state legislatures throughout the country," said Goodman. "These scholarships would offer a further incentive to pursue an international education experience to financially needy students."
Applications for the Gilman International Scholarship Program are available online at www.iie.org/gilman. Additional information is available through IIE s Southern Regional Office in Houston by e-mail, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (713) 621-6300 ext 25.
Located in the heart of a dynamic college town, 90 minutes from metropolitan New York City, the State University of New York at New Paltz is a highly selective college of about 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
One of the most well-regarded public colleges in the nation, New Paltz delivers an extraordinary number of majors in Business, Liberal Arts, Sciences, Engineering, Fine and Performing Arts and Education.
New Paltz embraces its culture as a community where talented and independent minded people from around the world create close personal links with real scholars and artists who love to teach.