Hiram reaches out to global market

Heather Condley Record-Courier staff writer Published:

HIRAM _ In an age where computers and technology have made the world a global village and given colleges and universities access to students half-way around the world, Hiram College continues to put a personal touch into international recruiting. In 1991, the college received a grant from the James L. and John S. Knight Foundation to help better internationalize the college. With the grant money, Hiram officials worked to develop an international curriculum and study abroad program, said Denny Taylor, a biology professor who was then working as the director of the entire international program. "We had developed on-campus programming and our academic program was fully integrated with student life. We thought at the time that it should show in the recruiting," Taylor said. What was born was a unique approach to international recruiting unlike any other used by colleges and universities today. Since 1993 Taylor has been traveling to foreign countries to talk to international students. But instead of taking part in college fairs, which are the norm for most schools, Taylor actually gives a lecture on whales at each school. When the lecture is over, he makes himself available to answer questions from interested students. Taylor said at a typical college fair admissions counselors may see 20 or 30 students, but while he speaks to a class of 10 or 15 students he has the potential to meet other students while at the school. He adds the lecture-method of recruitment works better for Hiram because it interests the students in whom Hiram is most interested. "We want to associate academic content with Hiram. It raises our visibility and it raises the visibility of liberal arts colleges. We're really interested in students who are interested in intellectual pursuits," he said. "I don't expect any students to be immediately turned on because of the lecture, but of the students who express interest, we use to maybe have 50 or so students who would write to us, now because of the program, we get 500 inquiries." On his annual trips _ he takes two each year _ Taylor goes to many of the usual places, like Asia, Central and South America and Europe. He also goes to some out of the way places like Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. This year on his shorter trip, he visited Puerto Rico, Chile, Bolivia, Costa Rica and Panama, among others. On a recent 48-day "around-the-world trip" he went to Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and England, to name a few. "I've done that trip six times in four years. At first I did it over 12 weeks. I've been able to compress that to 5 1/2 weeks. Now I visit about 75 or 80 schools in that time." he said. "I'm more efficient but I have less time to smell the flowers." Taylor said Hiram College is well established with the high school counselors with whom he deals in foreign countries because he goes to places other colleges don't consider. "It's not cost effective for big recruiters to go to small places," he said, adding that bigger universities often draw applications from foreign students simply because the schools are well known. "Being from Hiram, Ohio doesn't have the same draw that the University of Hawaii has. We want to educate them and it's easier to that where not everyone is going. "In America, one of the biggest export industries is higher education. Many students regard getting an American education as a very important step in their education," he said. In addition to recruiting students, Taylor has returned to the classroom part time. "When we had the Knight grant, I was in administration, but now I've returned to teaching half time," he said. "My first love is teaching. I absolutely love being in the classroom, that's why the recruiting has been so fun. I have the opportunity to bring them something they haven't seen before."

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