International Students At JMU

In the fall semester of 1979 there were thirteen international students. A quote from the Dean of Admissions and Records Dr Fay Reubush in The Breeze states

Article about international student presence on campus, from The Breeze October 2nd 1979.

Article about international student presence on campus, from The Breeze October 2nd 1979.



“One of our goals in the administration is diversity. International students contribute to this with their different backgrounds and different interests.”




Two of these thirteen students present in 1979, are exchange students from this it can be inferred that James Madison University was establishing partnerships with foreign universities. This suggests a certain level institution but also shows like with the study abroad programme the university is trying to establish connections abroad and broaden its student horizons as well as welcoming international students on to its campus. In the same article it mentions how their is an international student advisor Dr Bijan Saadatmand who was a professor of Psychology originally  from Iran. so whilst James Madison University may not have actively be trying to recruit international students the fact that this position existed shows that it did have provisions in place to help them if they did decide to come study here.

The article goes on to deal how an international student would apply to study at James Madison which essentially once they proved they are proficient in English the procedure is the same as any other student applying. It also hints at the fact they have to well supported financially speaking to be able to study in the United States as they have very little opportunity to earn money and they are not able to receive government grants.

As the quote from Dr Fay Reubush stated international students contribute to the James Madison campus simply due to the fact that they come from different backgrounds and therefore bring different ideas to peoples awareness. This next article from The Breeze highlights just how that can work in action.

Article about the differences between students in South America and the United States, from The Breeze November 2nd 1979

Article about the differences between students in South America and the United States, from The Breeze November 2nd 1979

The two international students from South America interviewed suggest that American students are apathetic. This shows the transformation of student behaviour in the 1970s at the beginning of the decade the American student was seen as being very political active and even at the more isolated community at Madison College protests occurred (more information about them can be found here, here and here.) By the end of 1970s the American student body has seen a take over by the ‘grinds’  as argued by Lefkowitz-Horowitz, she defines them as:

  • Outsiders to the traditional campus system especially of fraternities and sororities
  •  Hard workers 
  • Realists

The two students interviewed suggest that it may be due to the fact in comparison the United States is very stable politically. Vargas one of the two students however then goes on to state that students in Argentina are more concerned with international events. This does suggest an apathy on the part of American students and reflects an isolationist mood that was dominating American culture in the late 1970s.

The fact that there were only thirteen international students present at James Madison University in 1979 means they cannot have had much of impact. From 1979 to 2009 the number of international students at James Madison University increases by 1930% whilst the total student body in the same time period only increases by 126%. This can be seen as the fledgling beginnings of something that would grow dramatically in the future, whilst not a significant present on campus it shows the beginning of trends towards internationalization of the campus. The fact that the staff at the time are recognizing the diversity which international students bring to college campus, although they are not actively trying to seek out international students at this time. This could be put down to a number of factors including the fact that they are focusing on trying to recruit more out of state students, as well as African American students so they have to start with the domestic before they can begin to look outside of that when growing as an institution.

This shows there is activity approach towards having an international student presence at James Madison University, although it is unintentional. To summarise James Madison University does show traits of internationalization as have been shown in the posts, it asides from the study abroad program to London is incidental. As well as that  to an extent at the time it is unlikely to be a concept they are thinking of so this is a concept that has been retrospectively applied to the situation.

Works Cited

The Breeze, October 2, 1979

The Breeze, November 2, 1979

Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz. Campus life: undergraduate cultures from the end of the eighteenth century to the present. United States of America: Knopf, 1987