CSU Center for Global Engagement Gets New Home, Leadership
[caption id="attachment_8696" align="alignright" width="225"] Dr. Eric Spears, Executive Director, Center for Global Engagement.[/caption]
Columbus State University’s Center for Global Engagement now has a new office and a new executive director. Dr. Eric Spears, a Fulbright scholar and geography professor with 20 years of experience in international education, will lead the program at its new home in the Schuster Center for Student Success.
“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Spears to Columbus State University,” said Dr. Tina Butcher, interim provost at CSU. “He brings outstanding experience and expertise that will build upon CSU’s award-winning Center for Global Engagement. I’m confident that he’ll be a champion for the Center’s mission to provide students with valuable international education learning experiences.
Spears previously served as the Assistant Vice President for International Education at Georgia College and State University. Prior to that, he directed the international scholars program at Mercer University. His interest in international education started in high school when he traveled to China and grew with experiences in England, Brazil and South Korea.
“When you are in a place where you don’t recognize the language or characters, you grow enormously. I know it benefited me, and I want students to have that option,” Spears said.
A self-proclaimed “life-long learner,” Spears stays active with international research in Brazil and South East Asia. He is the Co-Research Director of the Political Economy of Education and Human Development Project at the Federal University of São Carlos, Brazil, as well as an active member of the Asian Studies Development Program alumni board at the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii at Mânoa.
“I try to learn new things and take cultural risks in the same way that our students have to do,” Spears said.
Spears says he is excited to join CSU’s Center for Global Engagement – a program that he calls unique due to its Spencer House at Oxford. As an endowment from the family of J. Kyle Spencer, the Spencer House provides CSU students, faculty and staff with a place to live while studying at Oxford. Spears hopes to encourage students to take advantage of the resource, while also promoting study abroad opportunities to less traveled regions outside of Europe. Other priorities of the department will be increasing scholarship opportunities through an upcoming fundraising campaign and settling into the new office at the Schuster Center, which is more centrally located on campus and convenient to students.
As the Mildred Miller Fort Foundation Distinguished Chair of International Education, Spears’s position and the Center for Global Engagement are made possible through the support of Columbus native, Mildred Miller Fort. Her encouragement and support have been essential to establishing an award-winning international education program at CSU. In 2014, the Center won the Senator Paul Simon Award, a prestigious national honor awarded to only a few institutions each year.
“CSU is known nationally as a leader for global engagement,” said Spears. “To take that program and continue it is an honor.”