Abroad Budget Cuts Put Reputation at Risk

A passport stamped with the names of countries and multiple question marks. Illustration by Jenica Cruz.

Facing additional budget issues, Lewis & Clark has decided to cut funding from specific overseas programs. While it has already been announced that the Border Studies program has been cancelled, a list of other programs facing cuts has yet to be released. Although it is becoming increasingly difficult for LC to decide where to cut funding, the Overseas and Off-Campus Programs are fundamental to the identity and marketability of LC as an academic institution.

Programs that are run through a different school or take place in Europe are more expensive, and  I understand that switching to less expensive programs would be a clear advantage. However, simply eliminating programs without replacing them severely harms the image of the school and can make those who decided to come here because of the promising abroad experiences feel duped. After being sold on the idea of LC’s international focus, being told that the program you were intending to apply for has been cancelled would no doubt be frustrating.

LC is aware of the benefits that study abroad programs provide, otherwise they would not promote our success in that field as strongly. The amount of experience, professional connections and academic challenges that come with studying abroad cements its importance in an academic setting. Along with promising prospective students a booming abroad program, we need to evaluate why we need to maintain our status as a global-minded college for the students we already have.

Something that I could see LC doing is continuing to pledge a robust and unaltered program to students who tour the campus while continuing to defund the program. This would add to the usual litany of assurances that the college — and colleges in general —  makes in order to draw prospective students in. The idea of international engagement is promising, but the reality is that the follow-through falls short of the ideal it represents.

If LC makes significant cuts to their overseas programs they cannot continue to include their abroad studies in their top selling points. Are we simply trying to attract students to this school with a beautiful campus and international affairs major, or are we going to follow through in maintaining our academic opportunities abroad?

For such a small school in a liberal bubble like Portland, it is exceptionally important to have ample access to overseas programs. I do not think that this fact is lost on the administration, nor do I think that they did not seriously consider this decision, but if this is the course of action that they are choosing to take, LC may have to review its global identity. You may not be able to see the waters in the Seine in a few years, but the water feature by the new bridge is supposed to be promising.

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