Thomsen Will Expand Outreach, Opportunities for International Students

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - Associate Dean of Student Life Tom Hartvig Thomsen of Worcester, Mass., will take on an expanded role with WPI's international students this summer when he becomes director of international students and scholars and moves from Daniels Hall to the newly created International House at 28 Trowbridge Road. Billy McGowan of Milford, N.H., who recently came to WPI as ESL (English as a Second Language) director, will work with Thomsen at International House. In his new post, Thomsen will be responsible for helping international undergraduate and graduate students to make the transition from their home countries and cultures to life at WPI. From his first floor office, he will serve as a source of information and assistance on everything from immigration-related paper work, taxes and driver's licenses to navigating the city and dealing with shopkeepers, roommates, and language and cultural differences. He will continue to serve as advisor to the Muslim Student Association, the Indian Student Organization, and the Hispanic, Korean and Vietnamese student associations, and the International Student Council, an umbrella group of the university's 11 international student organizations.

Thomsen, who was born and raised in Denmark, worked in such diverse places as Copenhagen, Nairobi, Kenya, Dhaka, Bangladesh and Amherst, Mass., before coming to WPI 10 years ago. He is looking forward to moving to International House. "I hope this house will help our international students and scholars create a sense of community," he says. "I envision it as a center for international education that will draw on the resources of the campus, such as faculty and students returning from overseas experiences, in addition to international students, scholars and faculty.

"My new position and office, including the ESL program, will enable me to focus on helping international students succeed at WPI. In addition to expanding their own horizons when they enroll here, our international students enrich the campus with their diverse backgrounds, languages and interests." The ESL (English as a Second Language) Summer Institute at WPI, an intensive, five-week program designed for international students planning to study engineering or science in the United States, will welcome its first participants in July. Classroom instruction will integrate reading, writing, speaking and listening skills, with emphasis on the everyday use of spoken English in a technological academic setting. The program includes tutorials in technical writing, oral presentation workshops, computer workshops, World Wide Web instruction, and visits to area high-tech companies.

Billy McGowan, who holds an M.S. in international relations from Troy State University and a graduate certificate in teaching ESL from Clark University, was hired this spring to plan and implement the summer institute. Throughout the year McGowan will serve as an ESL resource to WPI's international students and will test and teach ESL to international teaching assistants. Before coming to WPI, he taught English as a Second Language and was the assistant academic director at the New England School of English in Cambridge, Mass. He has taught ESL in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Germany and brings this diverse teaching experience to his new position at WPI.. For more information about the ESL Summer Institute, call 508-831-5201, e-mail esl@wpi.edu, or visit the Web site at https://www.wpi.edu.