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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Tech travelers assist recruiting

By Netta S. Smith

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 21 - February 22, 1996

Last summer, 20 Virginia Tech faculty members combined travel abroad with recruiting undergraduate students. Lee Drowne, assistant director of admissions, is hoping even more faculty, as well as staff members, will participate in this effort in the future.

This fall, the university enrolled 47 freshmen from 29 different countries, a 59-percent increase over the previous year. "I'm looking for another increase this year," Drowne says. "And our faculty and staff members can help this effort. They are excellent emissaries for Virginia Tech.

"The traveling faculty or staff members can do as much or as little as they wish," Drowne says. "It can be as simple as making a telephone call to a student who has been offered admission, or meeting with high-school counselors and students to answer questions about the university." Most participants in the program carried admissions materials. Some carried an admissions video that has been converted to work on international video systems.

Norrine Bailey Spencer, associate dean of the Pamplin College of Business, took along packets of Virginia Tech materials when she traveled with the Blacksburg Master Chorale to Prague, Czechoslovakia, and Vienna, Austria. "In Vienna, the hotel called a local school, who sent someone to pick up the materials," Spencer says. "It really wasn't any trouble for me. I would definitely do it again."

John Perumpral, department head of Biological Systems Engineering, served as a Virginia Tech ambassador during a three-week vacation in southern India. He had hoped to present a formal program in Madras or another large Indian city, but was unable to travel there. So he simply talked on an informal basis with high-school students that he met.

"A number of students were very interested in getting information about what they needed to do to come here for undergraduate work," Perumpral says. After returning home, he even mailed a copy of the SAT booklet to one interested Indian high-school student.

Drowne meets with the traveling volunteers to discuss what they would like to do to help recruitment. She provides them with a packet that includes an undergraduate catalog or college information sheets. She also provides international applications and brochures and a list of prospective students in the area where the traveler is going.

The packets also include an information booklet containing "Frequently Asked Questions" students ask about Virginia Tech and the answers. The faculty members are also given names of the alumni in the cities or areas of their travel who participate in the Hokies Abroad program. This new program involves nearly 100 Virginia Tech alumni living abroad who assist the Admissions Office in identifying and recruiting talented international undergraduate students.

Drowne says she hopes more faculty and staff members will participate in the program. "Competition is keen for international students. Other countries are actively recruiting internationals. In addition, many developing countries have improved or expanded their own colleges and universities, so students remain in their own countries. A lack of funds to send students abroad causes others to stay home to study."

"We're having to do more to attract talented international students to Virginia Tech," Drowne says. "Personal contact can make a difference in convincing international students to enroll. Once they get here, they are happy because Tech offers a quality education in a safe campus environment, both of which are very important to international students. And the Cranwell International Center provides a variety of services, from issuing the I-20s to implementing Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) policies. The center also offers practical training, counseling, opportunities for community involvement, pizza parties and trips. We just need to get the students here."

Faculty and staff members who are planning to travel abroad and are willing to be a part of the Traveling Faculty/Staff program can call Drowne at 1-9339 or send e-mail to drowne@vt.edu.