“Those who share their knowledge gain insight and a new experience”
Henry G. Bennett (1886-1951)
Oklahoma State University's long and proud tradition of excellence in international
education has its roots in the post World War II era when US President Harry S.
Truman appointed OSU President Dr. Henry G. Bennett as the first chief executive
officer of the Point Four Program. This program (so named because it was addressed
in the fourth point of Truman's 1949 inaugural speech) was designed to export American
technology and scientific knowledge to emerging nations. Today, the program is known
as USAID - the United States Agency for International Development. Dr. Bennett headed
the Point Four Program until his untimely death in an airplane crash in the Middle
East in 1951.
Shortly after Dr. Bennett died, OSU signed a contract to establish an agricultural
college in Ethiopia - Alemaya University. Building
on the success of this initiative, OSU conducted numerous international assistance
programs in Pakistan, Thailand, Guatemala, Colombia, Jordan, Morocco and other areas
of the world. Over the past half-century, hundreds of faculty members have served
abroad on numerous projects sponsored by the United States Government and private
foundations. Faculty members are increasingly engaged in research and outreach dealing
with international trade and development and have contributed extensively to scholarship
on global issues. Their knowledge of global issues is being integrated into curricula
across the OSU System, resulting in an increase in the number of study abroad participants.
A statue of Dr Bennett, outside the OSU president’s office, overlooks the campus. The current campus layout is greatly attributed to Dr Bennett’s Campus Master Plan, enacted during his 23-year tenure as president.
In July of 1998, Oklahoma State University's Board of Regents approved the creation
of the School of International Studies (SIS)
with the charge to charter a new path to excellence in international education.
Formally dedicated in April of 1999, the School set out to fulfill its mission "to
provide a university-wide focus to synergize and expand international opportunities
in instruction, research and extension for individuals and organizations seeking
a greater understanding and involvement in world trade and international affairs."
A first step in fulfilling this mission was the establishment of an interdisciplinary
Graduate Program with a Master's of Science Degree in International Studies and
a Certificate in International Studies, in which eight participating academic units
advise and instruct students enrolled in the Graduate Program. The Graduate Program
has since expanded to include the Peace Corps Master's International Program. In
addition to the Graduate Program, SIS includes the English Language Institute; Study
Abroad/National Student Exchange Office; Peace Corps Recruitment Office; Fulbright
Resource Center; OSU Chapter of the Phi Beta Delta International Honor Society;
OSU-OSU - Mexico Liaison Office; and International Outreach Department, which supports
statewide, national and international outreach efforts.
SIS provides a unique opportunity to develop forward-looking approaches to the
study of global issues in multidisciplinary think teams. Since its inception, more
than 140 OSU faculty, with strong credentials in international education, research
and outreach, have stepped forward to participate in fulfilling SIS's mission. In
addition to the faculty, SIS wanted an avenue to broaden the intellectual capital
contributing to the education of its students, as well as the OSU System. To accomplish
this, SIS established the Henry G. Bennett Distinguished Fellows Program.
The Bennett Fellows Program recruits individuals from around the world who have
a common purpose of addressing issues in a complex global environment and have made
outstanding contributions to the social, political and/or economic issues of the
world. They are selected from a wide range of fields and disciplines including academe,
business, government, the media, the military, and the non-profit sector.