Offering students the world
Thirty years and six offices later, Thomas Grouling is retiring from his position as associate director of Drake’s International Programs and Services Department. After devoting his career to assisting thousands of students and scholars with expanding their worldviews, he plans on doing a bit of traveling himself.
“I would love to see New England’s fall colors,” Grouling says. “Though I am looking forward to retirement, I’ll miss working daily with students, faculty and staff members.”
In his role as associate director, Grouling advised international students on immigration laws and international employment regulations. He also served as the director of an intensive English language-learning program designed for non-native English speakers.
Program grows while fostering global community
International Programs and Services was much different when Grouling joined the department as a part-time staff member three decades ago.
Staffed in 1981 by one full-time worker and a few part-time personnel, the 2011 version of the department retains seven full-time employees.
Five Drake students studied abroad in 1981; in 2011, 250 travelled internationally to pursue a diverse array of cultural and educational experiences. In addition, more than 350 international students are attending classes at Drake this year.
“The program’s main accomplishment is growth,” Grouling says. “More students are participating than ever before. President Maxwell, Drake, and the Center for International Programs and Services have made great strides forward in promoting global citizenship, which is the most exciting part of the University’s mission — to make students more aware of their place in the world.
“When we understand each other, we get along with each other. Peace comes through understanding, and understanding comes through the type of interaction fostered by international exchange.”
Years of mentorship and guidance
Grouling’s proudest accomplishment is the mentorship role he played for 12 Drake students who interned with him, studying immigration regulations and international student advising.
“Of these Drake graduates, several have worked overseas, three went on to become Foreign Student Advisers, one became a visa officer for the U.S. State Department and one became an immigration lawyer,” says Grouling, who began the assistantship program in 1997. “I’m pleased to have played a role in helping these students in the development of their professional careers.”
Grouling will continue to guide students in the years to come. Though he will otherwise be retired, Grouling plans on continuing to teach an undergraduate course, Introduction to American Culture.