West Liberty Studying Abroad Program Expands to Germany
WLU?Partnership Open to All W.Va. College Students
WEST LIBERTY — Study abroad is growing at West Liberty University, and students now have a German partnership that will expand their opportunity for global learning.
“West Liberty University is pleased to offer our students and all West Virginia college students a chance to study at the prestigious Julius-Maximilians University. This new partnership strengthens our study abroad program and offers a chance to study at a major European university established in 1402,” said Dr. Stephen Greiner, WLU president.
Dr. Miriam Roth Douglas orchestrated the arrangement between WLU and the Julius-Maximilians University (JMU), located in the picturesque Bavarian region of Wuerzburg, of which she is a native. She is director of the accelerated bachelor’s degree program in Community Education found in the College of Education and Human Development.
A member of the WLU Internationalization Committee, Douglas has been involved in study abroad programs since she began her role as a WLU faculty member. Particularly because she is originally from Wuerzburg, she is excited to offer this expansion.
“West Liberty University’s Internationalization Committee works hard to find ways to increase the learning trips that our students can take while studying here at WLU. I am grateful to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission for providing the grant that made the Wuerzburg program possible for statewide student population. It is a wonderful chance to experience a cosmopolitan university in a major European region,” she said.
The first study abroad trip under the umbrella of this partnership will take place from July 11-25.
Douglas previously took WLU students to Wuerzburg in the summers of 2015 and 2016, but it was on her own without benefit of the partnership.
Sixteen students participated in the first trip and six in the second; both enjoyed sightseeing and study for about two weeks.
“I know the area well. It is beautiful and the university is huge. Students will take side trips to other cities like Bamberg, Heidelberg, Munich and Nuremberg. The university is very innovative and has a rich tradition that claims 14 Nobel Lauriates — one is Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, the scientist who discovered X-rays.”
A public research university, JMU enrolls 28,000 students and 2,300 of its students are from abroad, according to its website. It offers more than 200 programs of study.
Douglas contacted JMU International Affairs Professor Dr. Juline Bobineau and worked with him to create the new partnership. The official memorandum was formalized in November.
“Both WLU’s international office under the direction of Mia Szabo and the international affairs office at JMU were instrumental in assisting me with the details of the arrangement. I am looking forward to the educational experience that our students will receive as they travel to this major university and region. Other things that will evolve include faculty exchanges and semester abroad programs.”
The memorandum allows for three things:
1. Student study abroad for a two-week summer intensive program,
2. Semester-long trips for either JMU students coming to WLU or vice-versa, and
3. A faculty exchange program for professors to switch universities.
“International travel and study can change the way a person thinks and sees the world, so it is a wonderful thing for all of us. Many of JMU’s classes are taught in English, so there are English language options, too,” she said.
JMU professor, Dr. Peter Suess, also was instrumental in the development of the partnership, according to Douglas.
“He is program director of the WELP (Wuerzburg English Language Program) and gave us guided university tours and guest lectures and will be teaching students in our study-abroad program during the summer.”
The new partnership supports the recent announcement of WLU’s new major, Teaching English and Global Education, which is now offered in the College of Education and Human Performance. Students in this major will benefit especially from the German language immersion and cultural exposure of this new study-abroad program, according to Douglas.
Douglas was born in Esselbach, located about 30 minutes away from JMU. Her parents still reside there and her brother, Alexander, works in Munich for BMW. She first arrived in the Mountain State in 2004 and attended West Virginia University as she earned her master’s and doctoral degrees. In 2012 she joined the faculty of WLU, where she is the director of the Community Education program. She is married to Jarod Douglas, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, and they have one child, Helena.
Students who participate in the trip to Germany earn three or four hours of academic credit in two weeks, and any student from a university or college in the state of West Virginia is eligible to participate.
For more information on the study abroad trip to Germany, call Douglas, 304-336-8561, or email miriam.douglas@ westliberty.edu. The Facebook page is WLU in Wuerzburg.