International Services office restructured into 2 divisions

Uchechi Owunna

In 2021, the discussion to merge the International Students Office with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion began.

This conversation originated from the university’s need for more streamlined processes to create efficiency for the current and future students. 

The office is now called the Office of International and Multicultural Affairs with Gina White as the director and Pamela Saulsberry as the executive director.

“The merging of these two offices was just a natural fit because they both share the same goal of appreciating diversity here on the bayou,” Saulsberry said.

The International Students Office was previously responsible for all international students’ concerns before and after arriving in the States. But the duties of the office have been reallocated. The admission process and procedures related to the Student and Exchange Visitor program will now be handled in the university’s admissions department. 

“Any process that can be streamlined for efficiency and consistency always proves to be beneficial for our students,” White said.

Saulsberry said international students have always been welcomed on campus because of their cultural diversity that enriches the campus experience. But this merge will allow the university to celebrate all types of multiculturality at the student, staff and faculty levels.

“The Office of International and Multicultural Affairs is here to support and advocate for all of our minority and under-represented student population,” White said. “We want to ensure that every student here has a place where they feel that they are welcomed, heard and belong.”

Tram Phan, the vice president of the International Students Association and a student worker in the office, said the merge is a great idea for international students because diversity is much broader than race, and it will be helpful for international students to get more acknowledgment.  

 “From this merge, the office and the campus can have a better understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion and make sure that it is always possible for someone to fit in regardless of their background,” Phan said.

Phan said any new transition needs certain adjustments. As this is still in progress, student workers are still doing the same job to assist international students with only minor changes.

“The best way to help international students with this transition is to keep informing them along the way,” Phan said. 

Saulsberry said going forward, the office’s goal is to recognize that diversity is a fact, equity is a choice and inclusion is an action. The Office of International and Multicultural Affairs chooses to include international and multicultural Warhawks in equitable and equal ways.

“Multicultural affairs and the events we host helps us realize that we are all human beings and we are more alike than unalike,” Saulsberry said.