Athens, Ga. – Judy Shaw, associate provost for international education will be retiring on July 1, after 33 years at UGA and four as head of UGA’s Office of International Education. The International education program is ranked fifth among all colleges and universities in the U.S. for the number of students in studies abroad programs, and a full 30 percent of UGA undergraduates will have studied in other countries before they graduate.
The UGA at Oxford Program, that Shaw started when she was a professor in the English department and looking for a way to connect students to the world of English literature, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
“I was in mid-career and though I loved teaching, I had been seriously considering returning to school to study law,” said Shaw. “But then I won a Sandy Beaver Teaching Professorship, and with that I got a grad assistant, and I began to re-think what I might be able to do. That’s when we decided to contact Oxford to see if they were interested in cooperating with a program for UGA students.”
The British university agreed and in the summer of 1989, Shaw took the first group of 13 students to a brand new program headquartered in the university’s Jesus College.
Applications for future sessions flowed in, and Shaw and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences suddenly found themselves with one of the hottest tickets around. By 1994, the annual summer session had changed to include a full spring semester program, which went on at the same time regular Oxford matriculates were on campus.
In 1999, the program was moved to the Office of the Provost from the Franklin College because other colleges on the UGA campus were joining the pilgrimage. That year, UGA purchased the first Oxford Center, a lovely old building in town, and students lived there until an even more impressive structure was purchased in 2007.
Shaw led the program for 16 years before taking over as interim associate provost for international education in May 2005, when the program moved from Jesus to Trinity College. A year later, she was named permanently to the position, and in it, she has helped raise studies abroad programs at UGA to new heights and national prominence.
The responsibilities of OIE are broad and include overseeing UGA’s programs at Oxford and in Costa Rica, all studies abroad initiatives and activities, immigration services for students and more.
“The board of regents had earlier set a goal of having 25 percent of students involved with studies abroad programs before 2010, but we’ve already blown past that,” said Shaw. “In fact, UGA has more than 100 faculty-led studies abroad programs-more than any other university in the country.”
Shaw’s office provides support in a number of areas to all these programs, including handling financial set-up, assuring the health and safety of students, advising on academic rigor and oversight and handling the approval process for new programs as they come along.
One thing of which she’s quite proud is that over the past decade studies abroad programs here have moved from a Eurocentric model to one involving the entire world. In addition to Europe, students can now study in Africa, Asia and other places as well. Most of these programs are self-supporting, based on fees paid by students.
While the worldwide economic crunch has slowed international education programs at many universities, nearly all UGA programs in this area are holding their own, with only a handful suspending activities out of more than 100.