Blog Higher Education

Reaffirming the intrinsic value of our international community

In recent months, tensions have risen between our government and the governments of other countries. There are myriad examples, a few including economic disputes between the United States and China, political sparring involving Russia, and immigration concerns at our southern border. In light of these and other tensions as well as political rhetoric and pressure from various angles, it’s both appropriate and critically important to remember who we are and aspire to be as a Washington University community — a place where all people feel represented, welcome, and included. Our international students, faculty, and staff are no exception. Let me be clear: students, faculty, and staff from around the globe are welcome at Washington University with open arms. And during times like these, it’s especially imperative we remind them that they are valued and celebrated as members of our thriving community.

Here at Washington University, we are an incredibly vibrant, diverse, and global community. Our international faculty, staff, and students come to us from more than 130 nationalities. Thirty-four percent of our graduate students come to us from international backgrounds, and our total student body is made up of nearly twenty-two percent international students.  

More importantly — members of our WashU community who come to us from around the world play a vital role in making the university the exceptional institution it is today. WashU faculty from a diverse set of countries and backgrounds are making important research discoveries and are engaged teachers and mentors. Our bright and talented international students arrive on our campus eager to learn and to make a positive difference in the world. International students, faculty, and staff bring backgrounds and perspectives that enrich our dialogues on campus, and their presence helps all members of our community become productive members and leaders of a rapidly changing and global society. Regardless of government tensions, we will continue to seek out, recruit, invite, and welcome talented students, faculty, and staff to our campus from around the globe.

Washington University has long been a place that welcomes and values the contributions of our international students, faculty, staff, members of the local community, and our global network of alumni, partners, and friends. We have welcomed people from around the world to visit, work, and study on our campus since the early 1900s. Throughout our history, seven out of the 24 WashU Nobel Laureates were born outside the United States. Over time, we’ve grown partnerships and collaborations in countries across six continents to address international concerns such as climate change, global health, economic stability, and more. We’ve established the McDonnell International Scholars Academy, a program that provides a premier education, along with free tuition and financial living assistance, to top master’s and Ph.D. students from around the globe who aspire to be leaders in their professions and communities. Here on campus, we host various cultural celebrations annually, including Diwali, Holi, El Al Adha, and The African Film Festival, and more.

Our students, faculty, and staff are also dedicated to international concerns that affect our local community. We work closely on immigration policy and reform. We work and serve among refugee populations in St. Louis. We help lead and attend the various robust cultural celebrations held in the region. And many of our students, faculty, and staff live in and contribute to the vibrant, close-knit international communities and neighborhoods that set St. Louis apart as a culturally iconic destination.  

The list could undoubtedly go on and on — and, although we live in challenging times, I am confident that we as a Washington University community will never lose sight of our institutional mission and goals. As a world-renowned institution devoted to excellence in teaching, research, and patient care, we must continue on our path as we work fearlessly to improve lives in service of the greater good. Please continue to join me as we unapologetically remain a place where all our students, faculty, and staff — regardless of their background or previous opportunities — are invited, welcome, and included.