University of South Alabama, Office of Public Relations

April 11, 2008
Contact: Alice Jackson, Office of Public Relations, (251) 460-6639

USA Welcomes New Director of International Programs

Besides extensive professional and educational experience, the new Director of International Programs at the University of South Alabama brings to the job the personal experience of living and working abroad, plus fluently speaking two languages.

Dr. James F. “Jim” Ellis Jr. came to USA from Auburn University where he was Director of the International Education. He received his doctorate from the University of Florida in science education/curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on learning in informal settings. He also received his master of arts degree in Latin American studies from the University of Florida. He completed undergraduate work for a bachelor of arts degree in zoology at Indiana University.

Dr. Thomas L. Wells, dean of the School of Continuing Education and Special Programs, said Ellis’ hiring is the result of commitment by the USA administration, colleges and faculty to the increasingly important role that international education plays in preparing our graduates to live and work in today’s society and global economy. Wells said that one of the first initiatives since Ellis’ arrival has been to restructure the former office of international programs and development to the now Office of International Education with a mission to facilitate USA’s international efforts not only abroad but also throughout on-campus functions, academic as well as administrative, students as well as faculty and staff.

“I just received on my desk today a letter of commitment to a relationship with a sister institution abroad,” said Wells, noting that the project is a direct result of work by Ellis.

“Dr. Ellis brings a lengthy and exceptional record of commitment to international education, and I think he is going to make a real difference for the university in the international arena,” said Wells. “I think we are going to have stronger and larger programs for students and faculty members in both studies abroad and exchanges world-wide.”

Ellis, who grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, has work experience in Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras and Jamaica. He is fluent in both Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.

In 2003, the Chinese Consulate in Houston selected Ellis to host a working group on studying aboard. In 2001, he hosted a working group studying in Germany. He has participated in numerous study aboard site visits to China, Cuba, Thailand, Spain, England, Italy, and Austria as well as with an international recruitment program in Brazil.

“My primary objective right now is to get a good understanding of the needs of the University and its various departments concerning international opportunities, and I am learning that the University is international in a lot of ways already, ” said Ellis.

He has added a global presence to the University’s website, aiming it at USA students who want to study abroad as well as international students seeking educational opportunities inside the U.S.

Ellis noted that surveys of incoming freshmen indicate about 21 percent want to study abroad while the national average is about 39 percent. He added about 7 percent of USA graduates have studied abroad compared to the national average of 9 percent.
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