Natitoches, LA (KMSS) — A professor from Universidad Libre-Cartagena, Colombia, is visiting Northwestern State University to tour facilities, meet with faculty and explore the university’s resources. Diego A. Cardona Arbelaez, a professor of business administration, wanted to personally visit the university to better promote exchange opportunities to his students in Colombia. Northwestern State has agreements with Universidad Libre in which students can either spend a semester studying abroad as part of an exchange or can participate in a dual enrollment program that allows the student to earn degrees from each university.
Arbelaez said he was well-received as he visited administrative offices and classrooms, accompanied by Dr. Marcus Jones, vice president for University Affairs, who has been instrumental in promoting international exchange agreements with other universities. Jones said Northwestern State hosted two Colombian students in previous semesters and is expecting another this fall.
“I want to send students and am working on my students coming to NSU,” Arbelaez said.
His impressions of the campus were favorable.
“It is a beautiful university and the people are very nice,” he said after touring academic and residential buildings. “Everybody I have met, from students to campus workers, were very friendly. To me, it is very important for my students to be warmly received.”
Arbelaez, whose expertise is in marketing, planned to meet with faculty in the School of Business, observe classes and discuss online courses. He also planned to attend a University of Louisiana System board meeting in Baton Rouge to learn more about the system’s policies and procedures.
The Univerisidad Libre is a 90-year-old institution with a presence in seven Colombian cities and a total enrollment of 35,000 students. Most do not have campuses in the model of American universities except for Universidad Libre-Pereira, which Jones visited this past April. Arbelaez’s campus in Cartagena is only 10 years old with an enrollment of about 1,400 students. Universidad Libre also has exchange agreements in place with universities in France, Spain, Mexico, Ecuador and Argentina.
Colombian universities follow a five-year cycle as opposed to the American four years, so Colombian students who participate in the NSU-Libre dual enrollment program will spend their first three years of college studying at Libre followed by two years at Northwestern State. When they complete the program, they will have a degree from each university. Those in dual enrollment must take the S.A.T., as well as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), which evaluates the ability to use and understand English in an academic setting.
This November, eight Northwestern State students who served as Freshman Connectors will visit Universidad Libre to share recruiting and orientation practices and promote the exchange program, Jones said. In May 2014, professors from Northwestern State’s College of Science, Technology and Business will travel to Colombia to present seminars.
Northwestern State has exchange agreements with other universities in Colombia and has hosted several Colombian with positive results, Jones said.
“One of our students was here last semester as part of the exchange and liked it so much, she will return in August as part of the dual enrollment programs,” he said. “The students have done very well in their coursework, integrated themselves into university life and excelled here.”