International Center (University of Michigan) records

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International Center (University of Michigan) records

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger International Center (University of Michigan) record group held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the collection's online finding aid.

Researchers may also be interested in the International Center (University of Michigan) Web Archives.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

The records of the University of Michigan International Center contain administrative records from the various Directors of the center. These materials include documentation on the establishment of the University of Michigan's foreign student exchange scholarships, records relating to the development of important programs and national associations for international students, housing surveys between 1965-1971, printed materials such as annual reports, newsletters, and manuals, scrapbooks, photographs, and newspaper clippings.

History / Biography:
The University of Michigan was a pioneer in the development of guidance and counseling programs for its many foreign students. Instrumental in the early efforts of helping these students adjust to their new condition was J. Raleigh Nelson. In 1908, Nelson had come to the University of Michigan to head up a program of English language instruction for engineering students; in 1911, he was named Counselor to Foreign Students in the College of Engineering.

For many years, the counseling of foreign students was largely limited to the College of Engineering. In 1933, President Ruthven, aware of the need in other schools, asked Nelson to serve as University Counselor to Foreign Students. In this broader role, Nelson looked about for a centralized meeting place where the university's foreign students could gather, discuss common problems, and enjoy each other's company. Space at the Michigan Union was suggested, and in August 1938, Nelson (now Director of the International Center) moved into his new quarters. Within this one office, Nelson consolidated the responsibilities relating to foreign students which had formerly been spread throughout the University: English instruction, liaison with the government over immigration and naturalization problems, and coordinating programs of social and intellectual enrichment.

During his tenure, Nelson and the International Center promoted social contacts between American and foreign students on campus. The social, political, religious, and economic leaders of Ann Arbor were also encouraged to attend and support activities sponsored by the International Center. One of Professor Nelson's last acts before his retirement in 1943 was to recommend the establishment of the International Center's Board of Governors. This insured continuity with regard to the direction and goals of the Center.

Dr. Esson M. Gale became director of the International Center in 1943. In 1927 he served as a visiting lecturer of Far Eastern history at the University of Michigan. He returned, in 1942, as James Orin Murfin Professor of Political Science. Gale brought to the Center a deep knowledge of the peoples and cultures of the Far East, having lived in China for over thirty years. During Gale's tenure the responsibilities of the director and the International Center increased to include the coordination of the growing international interests of the university. These included private and government sponsored foreign student exchange programs; the creation of government programs, e.g. the Advisory Board for Emergency Aid to Chinese Students; and the foreign visitors programs.

Dr. James M. Davis succeeded Dr. Gale in 1954 as director of the International Center. He also held the position of assistant professor of education at the University of Michigan. Prior to coming to Michigan, Davis worked at the Institute of International Education in New York and from 1948 to 1954 was Counselor to Foreign Students and Executive Director of the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students at the University of Washington in Seattle.

In his ten years as director, Davis stressed the importance of counseling. The size of the staff increased allowing greater contact between individual students and staff members. Surveys and projects, e.g. the annual housing survey, gave the staff additional information to support their counseling. Davis also urged the foreign students to participate and accept greater responsibilities in campus activities. This was accomplished through the International Students Association. Under the direction of the International Center, the Association became the major voice representing foreign students on campus.

Dr. Robert B. Klinger, a member of the International Center staff since 1938, became acting director of the Center in 1964 and director in 1966. Dr. Klinger continued the policies established by his predecessors; in addition, he developed programs aimed at strengthening the ties of the International Center to its foreign student alumni. Under his guidance, the International Center also offered greater services for those American students interested in studying and traveling abroad. Klinger left the International Center in 1971.

Today the International Center continues to provide such services as non-academic counseling for foreign students, arranging programs for visiting foreign leaders, providing information on housing, health insurance, employment, and legal information, advising student groups, and representing the University of Michigan in the relationships with various governmental and private agencies.

Please note:

Copyright has been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan.

Access to digitized sound recordings may be limited to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library, located on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan.

Recent Deposits RSS Feed

  • 2002 
    University of Michigan. International Center. (2017)

    Access restricted; see individual files Zip file (1.2MB) Zip file (33.7KB)
  • 2007 
    University of Michigan. International Center. (2017)

    Access restricted; see individual files Zip file (1.1MB) Zip file (33.7KB)

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