In 2014 the Tippie College of Business was home to 498 international students, with a further 691 declared as pre-business majors. Together, these students constitute around 22% of the business and pre-business population at the University of Iowa. The rise in international student enrollment at the College of Business has been dramatic, with just 55 international students enrolled in 2007. The significant international student presence in the College creates extraordinary opportunities for our domestic students to learn about the world without leaving Iowa City, but it also presents challenges that often come with cross-cultural interaction – language barriers, cultural divides, and misunderstandings.
In Spring 2014 the Undergraduate Program Office at the College of Business launched International Buddies at Tippie, a program pairing international and domestic business students for a semester-long friendship. Since its inception the program has doubled its membership, has received positive media coverage both locally and nationally, and has succeeded person-by-person, in breaking down cultural barriers between many of our students. Jennifer will share her insights about the program, and two buddies will also share their thoughts and experiences.
Jennifer Blair is the Assistant Director for Global Community Engagement at Tippie, where she oversees efforts to connect international and domestic students in meaningful ways. A 1998 graduate of the University of Iowa (BA History) and 2000 graduate of Trinity College, Dublin (M.Phil), Jennifer qualified as a lawyer (solicitor) in Ireland and practiced private client law in one of Ireland’s largest law firms. She returned to Iowa in 2009, first overseeing international student admissions and services at St. Ambrose University in Davenport and most recently returning to her alma mater to continue her work with international students.