George T. Sipos first learned of Joel Glassman’s work directing the Office of International Studies and Programs at the University of Missouri–St. Louis more than a decade ago as he was transitioning into the realm of international education.
“I was lucky to benefit from so many mentors who helped me navigate all aspects of international education, including student recruitment, international student support, global engagement, international alumni and so on,” said Sipos, who at the time was working as a program manager at the Graham School of Continuing Liberal & Professional Studies at the University of Chicago while also pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Civilizations with a focus on Japan. “UMSL – and Joel in particular – came up in some of the examples of successful international education that my mentors invoked. That is why I started looking at what UMSL was doing at the time.”
Sipos is now going to get a chance to build on Glassman’s work.
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Kristin Sobolik announced today that Sipos will take over for Glassman, the retiring associate provost, and serve as UMSL’s senior international officer. He will be tasked with developing a strategic approach to global engagement and international alumni advancement, helping the university attract even more international students while also growing the number of American students who choose to study abroad.
“As an international scholar and citizen, with diverse experiences in higher education and the corporate world, George brings extensive knowledge to the position of senior international officer,” Sobolik said. “I look forward to working with George and the rest of the ISP team to develop a robust recruitment and global engagement strategy.”
Sipos, who grew up along the shores of the Danube River in Braila, Romania, has experienced being an international student. He came to the United States to pursue a second master’s degree in East Asian Studies at the University of Pittsburgh after first doing undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Bucharest. He also remained on this side of the Atlantic for his PhD at the University of Chicago.
Sipos worked as the director of the Global Admissions Office at Osaka University in Japan after completing his doctorate. From there, he moved to Yamanashi Gakuin University in Kofu, Japan, where he held positions as the executive director of administration and global affairs in the newly founded International College of Liberal Arts and the director of the International Education Center, leading efforts to design and implement a strategic plan for a comprehensive internationalization of the university.
Since September 2017, Sipos has been pursuing the same aim as the first-ever senior international officer at The College at Brockport, State University of New York, outside Rochester, New York.
Sipos’ work in the international arena also includes more than four years at Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan, where he built a higher education and research and development network to aid the company’s corporate philosophy and global outreach.
“I think there is nothing more important than international education,” Sipos said. “If you look at the world today, the mistakes we make are due to a lack of global awareness that we can only remedy by interacting with other cultures, either at home or abroad. The successes we have are due to the fact that 15-20 years ago people made it their goal to have such interactions. They learned what it means to physically be in a different culture, to speak a different language and to understand one another as humans and ultimately realize that we are all the same. We have the same desires, same wishes, same dreams, as well as the same shortcomings.”
Sipos is motivated to help today’s students learn that lesson by increasing the number of students from overseas studying at UMSL – currently about 5 percent of the population of degree-seeking students.
“I know that the new strategic plan that Chancellor Tom George put out calls for us to increase the number of international students on campus to 7 percent by 2023,” Sipos said. “I think that is a completely realistic goal. I think that we can go over that.”
Sipos won’t step into his new job officially until March 11, but he does plan to pay a visit to St. Louis sometime in January to begin meeting with staff.
He is eager to meet with international students on campus to learn about their experiences and what more can be done to support them as they pursue their degrees.
Sipos would like to add to existing and joint and dual-degree programs with foreign universities, like the ones being built with Osmania University in India.
He also has ideas to expand global studies on UMSL’s campus.
“The internationalization of the curriculum is a very important piece for me because it helps whet the appetites of students to move into international destinations, study or seek internships abroad,” Sipos said. “Our student population is different in many ways, and study abroad is a difficult piece to develop. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There are some ideas that I think would help increase the number of students going abroad.”
In addition to directing International Studies and Programs, Sipos will hold an appointment as an associate research professor in the Department of Language and Cultural Studies. A specialist in Japanese literature and culture, he has been actively teaching and pursuing research in modern Japanese society, history and literature. He has published several volumes of translations from Japanese into Romanian as well as scholarly papers and book chapters.
Sipos will be relocating to St. Louis with his wife, Jessica Busch Sipos, a medical anthropologist specializing in issues of healthy aging and longevity, and his children, Kaius, a passionate hockey player, and Kira-Sophie, a young gymnast.