#WHYTIEC: Spotlight on Dr. Marilyn Robitaille, Tarleton State University’s Director of Study Abroad and Global Exchange

Despite being a film buff and published poet, Dr. Marilyn Robitaille’s first love is assisting faculty and students at Tarleton State University with all aspects of study abroad programming. She says that seeing how much the students grow inspires her most as Director of Study Abroad & Global Exchange.

Also an Associate Professor of English, Dr. Robitaille co-edits Langdon Review of the Arts in Texas and co-hosts the annual Langdon Review Weekend, a Texas arts and letters festival in Granbury. She has served as Co-Managing Editor of Tarleton’s popular student literary journal Anthology for over twenty years.

However, when not writing her weekly film review for the Stephenville Empire Tribune and the Glen Rose Reporter, Dr. Robitaille facilitates and initiates agreements with foreign universities and manages all exchange programs for her university. In addition to serving on TIEC’s Operating Council, she has also served as a past President of Study Texas, an organization supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce to promote international study in Texas. She earned her M.A. from the Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College and her Ph.D. from Texas Woman’s University.

TIEC sat down with Dr. Robitaille to find out more about international education at Tarleton State.

What makes your university so special?

Tarleton is truly student-focused. On the Tarleton website, President Dottavio explains the “magic” students experience when he states, “Tarleton is the true university of the American dream: big enough for them to chase their dreams yet small enough to be a warm, caring and friendly place.” I think that says a lot!

What is the value of being involved in TIEC?

TIEC has provided a wealth of opportunities to network with international educators from across the state. For years, we participated in the Fulbright Program that brings Korean teachers to Texas, and that was a great opportunity to make connections with them, our Korean students, and the local school district. I know we’ve had faculty participate in some of the consulting opportunities, too. TIEC is a great way to stay informed about everything that’s happening in international education in Texas and around the world.

What are your international priorities for your university?

I’m in study abroad, so we’re focusing on increasing the opportunities for all students to participate. We’re looking at creative ways to map degree plans to study abroad, so students can plan early. We’re working to establish “signature” programs in each College to ensure that program locations and timelines don’t conflict with each other. Creating more affordable study abroad also means working on fundraising and strategic goal setting. Transformation and travel for all students – that’s a tall order, but that’s what we’re about!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Those of us involved in international education have a huge responsibility to continue to collaborate, share our expertise, and encourage our students to recognize their potential as engaged citizens, not just in their local communities, but in the world.