FEBRUARY 20, 2009

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OU President Boren Sets Goal to Increase Study Abroad By 50 Percent; Announces $100,000 in Additional Scholarship Money Available

University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren recently announced OU’s plans to increase participation in study-abroad programs by 50 percent over the next four years. To help realize this goal, Boren is increasing the amount of presidential study abroad scholarships by $100,000, raising the total amount from $250,000 to $350,000.

OU currently has approximately 700 students participating in credit-earning international programs each year. “All of our students will be living in a global environment; living with and having relationships with only Americans is a thing of the past,” Boren said. “Global experiences are essential to meet our responsibility to our students. We must assure them the opportunity to have an international living experience. For example, it has become increasingly clear that the security and economic well-being of our students during their lifetimes will depend on the nature of relationships between the United States and China. OU’s Journey to China summer program gives students important insights into life in China.”

OU students can participate in a reciprocal exchange for one or two semesters or enroll in one of OU’s summer programs, which vary from one month of language immersion to faculty-led study that moves from city to city within one country.

During his 14 years as OU president, Boren has made it a top priority to internationalize the curriculum and to broaden study-abroad opportunities for OU students.

Long before becoming president, Boren realized the importance of teaching young citizens – tomorrow’s leaders – how to live and work globally. As a senator, Boren was the author of the National Security Education Act of 1991, which created the National Security Education Board and Program and a trust fund in the U.S. Treasury to provide resources for scholarships, fellowships and grants to learn foreign languages and explore areas of the world not commonly studied in the United States. By 2008, more than 4,000 Boren Fellows and Scholars had studied abroad under the program in countries where U.S. students rarely enroll in university programs.

The act is guided by the mission to lead in development of the national capacity to educate U.S. citizens, understand foreign cultures, strengthen U.S. economic competitiveness, and enhance international cooperation and security.

The University of Oklahoma ranks first in the Big 12 and at the top in the nation in international exchange agreements with countries around the world. OU has 174 student exchange agreements with universities in 66 countries. More than 1,500 students from over 100 countries are enrolled on OU’s Norman campus this semester. OU has developed international floors in the residence halls that are equally composed of American and international students.

Presidential study abroad scholarships were established in 1997 to provide funds for overseas study and travel for American students. OU has strong programs in international and area studies through its International Programs Center.

All students are eligible to apply for the Presidential scholarships. The new scholarship funds are part of the university’s recent Campaign for Scholarships.