President Wiewel to host reception in Tokyo

PSU aims to increase international profile and student numbers

In an effort to increase the declining number of international students from Japan, Portland State President Wim Wiewel is heading east.

PSU aims to increase international profile and student numbers

In an effort to increase the declining number of international students from Japan, Portland State President Wim Wiewel is heading east.

Wiewel, along with four other school administrators, will be hosting a PSU reception in Tokyo Aug. 12. The primary goal of this event is to create new relationships with prospective Japanese students while strengthening existing bonds.


The administrators hosting the event also view it as part of a larger effort on the school’s behalf to improve the educational experience for all PSU students.

“Ideally, we would want all students to have an international educational experience,” said Agnes Hoffman, associate vice provost of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at PSU.

Hoffman, who will be speaking at the reception in Tokyo, claims that it is the enrollment of international students that “brings the world to our students…and provides another lens to the view the world in.”

The number of Japanese students at PSU has been declining. In the year 2000, Japan led foreign representation at PSU with 200
students. This past school year there were 167 Japanese students enrolled at PSU, placing Japan behind Saudi Arabia, China and India in total numbers of students attending the school.

There are several possible reasons for the decrease over the years, from the economic downturns the country has recently faced to increased competition from other schools. However, the main reason, according to Patricia Wetzel, interim vice provost for international affairs and professor of Japanese at PSU, is simply that the population of college-aged citizens in Japan is significantly declining.

Wetzel hopes that this meeting will allow prospective students to meet current and former PSU students from Japan.

“We are trying to establish an alumni organization in
Japan—something that is long overdue,” Wetzel said.

She claims that the responses she has received about the idea have been “very enthusiastic.”

The details of the alumni organization, tentatively dubbed “The Portland State Japan Club,” will be released at the Tokyo reception.

Though the dwindling number of Japanese students is cause for concern for PSU, the international program as a whole is steadily growing. The number of international students at PSU has nearly doubled since the turn of the century. In 2000, 961 international students were enrolled, compared to 1,923
students this past year.

Part of the rise, according to Hoffman, can be attributed to PSU’s increased efforts to attract international students and elevate the school’s profile worldwide, such as Wiewel’s upcoming trip to Tokyo.

But Hoffman concedes that some of the increases can be attributed to a larger global trend.

“We have benefitted from increased international mobility,” Hoffman said, adding that many Asian countries are beginning to view American universities as the “gold standard” in

The fact that the world is becoming more globally connected, specifically in the business sector, is what led Japanese student Shimpei Tsurumaki to enroll at PSU.

Tsurumaki, who is a post-baccalaureate international studies major, spoke about this decision by explaining today’s markets: “All business work is done in a cross-border environment and…I realized I lacked knowledge in international relations,” he said.

Tsurumaki believes that raising the level of international awareness and interaction can be achieved by continuing to bring in more foreign students. In doing so, PSU can become an excellent environment for both international and American students alike, he said.

Tsurumaki was not recruited to PSU via a reception in Japan, though he said he would have attended if he had had the opportunity. One of the reasons Tsurumaki decided to go to the U.S. for a second bachelor’s degree was because he thought he needed a more well-rounded perspective.

Tsurumaki said his classes in Japan, including his international relations courses, all had a distinct “Japanese perspective,” which he felt needed “to be balanced from another view.”

When Tsurumaki first arrived at PSU, he sought to distance himself from his Japanese culture in favor of immersing himself in an all-English-speaking environment. But since then he has found students who show a genuine interest in Asian culture and language.

“As a result of that, I started maintaining my Japanese identity while respecting other people and their cultures and values,” Tsurumaki said.