Global Task Force

Formation of the Global Task Force (GTF)

In the spring of 2011 Provost Eric Overström appointed a Global Task Force (GTF) to identify opportunities to establish high-value programs that engage WPI with the world and differentiate it from its peers in academia. The GTF includes members of the Board of Trustees, deans and administrators, faculty members, students, and representatives from WPI’s industry and corporate partners and collaborators.

The committee was specifically charged to:

  1. Assess the current international relationships and standing of WPI.
  2. Develop strategies for building international collaborations with global institutions and industries that will provide opportunities to engage WPI.
  3. Advise senior administrators on approaches to position the university as a rising and distinctive player in global higher education, while also helping to expand the diversity of the study body and the pool of potential donors to WPI.
  4. Report regularly to the President, Provost and WPI community on the progress of the design for a globalization strategy for WPI with final recommendations to the senior administration in April of 2012.

Since its creation the GTF has been meeting regularly to address each area of its charge as summarized in the timeline of activities.

Although still in the information gathering and exploratory phase, the GTF would like to share its current progress. This phase is dynamic and the thoughts of the committee are likely to evolve as we proceed with our research and further formulate a series of recommendations for the globalization of WPI.

After examining WPI’s current global engagements and the needs of our faculty, our students, and their employers, the following general observations have emerged.

  • Preparing our students to be the successful leaders of tomorrow requires that they have a global perspective. Facing the challenges of the future will require comfort working with interdisciplinary teams to solve complex problems and the ability to effectively communicate across both disciplinary and cultural borders. WPI has a very successful projects based curriculum that provides global opportunities and experiences for our students. Building upon these programs, WPI is poised to increased global engagements, both at home and abroad, preparing our students for their future careers.
  • Partnering with research collaborators around the globe allows us to understand the ever changing challenges facing nations and, through combined, integrated research efforts, lead the way to new solutions. Collaborations around the world also allow for access to additional resources including students, technologies and funding sources. Supporting and expanding the current individual collaborations of our faculty will be critical to sustained, meaningful relationships established with institutions and corporations around the globe.
  • Solving these complex global problems requires talented students and faculty. If we want to continue to attract the most talented students and faculty, we must position ourselves so that they are aware of all the benefits of a WPI education.
  • Without a strategic plan for global engagement in place, most interactions have been reactive instead of proactive with engagements neither initiated nor coordinated with central university aspirations. To make the most of resources, WPI must set priorities based on a defined set of institutional goals for targeted global engagement. All university faculty should be free to pursue engagements – as long as these are consistent with the policies of WPI and expectations for faculty productivity. Therefore, we need a coherent, clearly defined global strategy for international engagement that is consistent with our entrepreneurial nature.

Based on these observations, the GTF is currently considering the following areas as opportunities for enhancing the global engagement of WPI:

  • Improving support of current faculty collaborations that cross disciplines and span the globe
  • Defining relationship hubs in strategic locations around the world that will be centers for research, scholarship and corporate engagement
  • Adapting curricula to include more global awareness including development of a global studies program (minor) and expansion of the Great Problems Seminar and Project Centers (IQP/MQP) with a specific emphasis on expanding student engagements when they return home from abroad
  • Developing a Scholar in Residence Program that will build on individual faculty collaborations and increase the visibility of international scholars on campus
  • Providing a scholarship for outstanding international scholars that will bring the best and brightest students from around the world to WPI
  • Engaging alumni in all phases of the global strategy

Timeline of Global Task Force Activities

Date Events
Spring 2011

Announcement of the creation of a Global Task Force (GTF)

July - September

Elicit members for the Internal Advisory Committee (IAC)

September 27

Initial Meeting of the IAC including charge from the Provost

October 24

IAC performs a SWOT Analysis facilitated by external evaluator


Elicit members for the External Advisory Committee (EAC)

November 17

IAC discusses SWOT analysis and an internal survey of international collaborations, internal website is presented

December 9

Meeting of the EAC in New York City

December 13

IAC discusses the EAC recommendations and forms subcommittees to examine opportunities for WPI in 5 key locations (Brazil, China, Russia, Singapore and Switzerland)

January 13

IAC discusses results of subcommittees research and assigns specific report sections to members

March 16

EAC convenes on WPI campus to review report draft and make final recommendations

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Provost's Globalization Task Force Report

Global Task Force Members

  • Karen Oates, Dean, Arts & Sciences
  • Diran Apelian, Howmet Professor of Mechanical Engineering
  • Stephen Flavin, Vice President, Academic & Corporate Development
  • Arne Gericke, Department Head, Chemistry & Biochemistry
  • Art Heinricher, Dean of Undergraduate Studies
  • Chris Lambert, Professor, Bioengineering
  • Reeta Prusty-Rao, Professor, Biology & Biotechnology
  • Mark Rice, Dean, School of Business
  • Jennifer Rudolph, Associate Professor, Associate Head for Humanities
  • Jerry Schaufeld, Professor of Practice, School of Business
  • Tom Thomsen, Director, International Students/Schools International House
  • Rick Vaz, Dean, Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division
  • Amy Zeng, Associate Professor; Director, Operations and Industrial Engineering Program, Co-Director, China Project Center