sealPurdue News

April 7, 2003

Study Abroad Team honored for rise in overseas studies

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Five Purdue University faculty and staff will receive the 2003 Purdue Agriculture Team Award for their success in increasing the number of agriculture students studying abroad.

Victor Lechtenberg, dean of the Purdue School of Agriculture, will present the award and a $10,000 cash prize at 2 p.m. Monday, May 5, in Whistler Hall, Room 116, on Purdue's West Lafayette campus. The monetary award is to be used in furthering the team's efforts.

The team consists of Michael Stitsworth, associate director of International Programs in Agriculture; Zinaida Breschinsky, associate professor of foreign language and literature; Karl Brandt, professor of biochemistry; Linda Vallade, international academic program specialist; and Prudence Miller, international students and visitors coordinator.

"The Study Abroad Team exemplifies the power of teamwork," Lechtenberg said. "By joining forces, the members of this team have been able to grow study abroad participation in the School of Agriculture from just one student in 1990-91 to more than 150 this year. This is a tremendous accomplishment, and the team has served the school and the students well."

The team's success is significant among agriculture schools in the United States.

"These numbers are especially rewarding for us in the School of Agriculture, because agriculture schools across the country don't usually have a large number of students abroad," Stitsworth said.

The School of Agriculture, which enrolls 8 percent of the undergraduate student body, has the highest percentage of Purdue students studying abroad.

"More students are interested in studying abroad, because agriculture is becoming increasingly global," Stitsworth said. "The employers who hire our students want graduates who have at least some knowledge of the rest of the world and who are comfortable working with clients and co-workers who may come from different cultural backgrounds.

The number of internationally focused courses completed also has grown among Purdue's agriculture students as a result of increased study abroad. The school created an international studies minor and revised its core curriculum to include more language and international courses. In the School of Liberal Arts, the number of courses with an international focus completed by agriculture students increased four-fold; the number of semesters of foreign language taken doubled; the percentage of graduates with earned foreign language credit increased from 29 percent to 45 percent; and agriculture courses completed with an international focus increased more than eight times during the past decade.

To help further increase the number of participants, the school's Office of International Programs in Agriculture also has begun to offer short-term programs. Twenty-two students studied in Honduras over spring break, and another group will have a chance to study abroad over the next winter break.

Writer: Michelle Betz, (765) 494-8402,

Sources: Victor Lechtenberg, (765) 494-8391,

Michael Stitsworth, (765) 494-6876,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes,;

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page