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International Student Welcome Letter

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International Student Welcome Letter

August 25, 2020

Dear OU International Students,

Greetings and welcome to Fall Semester! We are thrilled to be welcoming you back to your studies, whether you are a new or returning student joining us online or on campus.

These are of course anxious times for all of us, and particularly for you as international students. We are keenly aware of the hardships many of you have had to overcome in order to get where you are today, and applaud the determination and grit that you have shown. And we know that you continue to face many challenges and worries in a volatile and uncertain environment.

In this context, I write as Chair of OU’s International Student Response Task Force. This Task Force, comprised of leaders from across OU’s three campuses, was launched by OU President Joe Harroz and Interim Provost Jill Irvine in early July, with a mandate:
 

  • To coordinate advocacy for international students with state and federal partners, specifically to urge the reconsideration of the proposed visa changes (which were in fact later rescinded);
  • To monitor and recommend effective university responses to issues that may affect international students in particular ways during the pandemic, including food and housing insecurity, bursar bills, employment and mental health, among others;
  • To engage in regular dialogue with international students and other members of the OU community to understand and respond to their concerns, and to provide up-to-date information to our community; and
  • To take immediate actions where possible and to make timely recommendations to the OU leadership on all of the above.

The Task Force has been meeting regularly since that time, working behind the scenes to coordinate the resources and policies of the university to provide every support to you as international students as you go through this difficult time. We are also working with an International Students Advisory Group composed of international students across OU’s three campuses to ensure that we stay close to the voices and needs of the international student community.

I would like to emphasize that the university is deeply committed to your success at OU.  Regardless of what happens in the coming weeks, we would like to assure you that OU will continue to provide housing and food options, and make health and counseling services available, to students living on or near campus. We will also continue to monitor the regulatory environment to ensure that students can remain in compliance with their visa enrollment requirements.

I would encourage you to regularly check the OU International Student Services page as well as the student section of www.ou.edu/together, and to write to iss@ou.edu if you have questions on your situation. This is not a time to be quiet or shy; if you have questions or are experiencing hardship, we want to hear from you.     

As President Harroz and Interim Provost Irvine wrote in July, "We are the OU family, and together, we will emerge stronger beyond the pandemic, complete with our remarkable international student community.” We once again welcome you, new and returning international students, to the OU family. May this academic year, strange as it is in many respects, be one of learning, discovery and progress for each of you individually, and for us as a community.

Warmly,

Scott Fritzen

Dean, David L. Boren College of International Studies
Chair, International Student Response Task Force

sfritzen@ou.edu