International Week to celebrate UCIS 50th anniversary


The Year of PittGlobal will come home later this month for the annual International Week on the Oakland campus, which this year also will mark the 50th anniversary of the University Center for International Studies.

UCIS grew out of the Center for Latin American Studies, which got its start a few years before UCIS was founded in 1968.

“It began out of a commitment to show Pitt’s international expertise,” says Belkys Torres, UCIS's executive director for Global Engagement.

For more information about International Week, check @Pitt

UCIS has grown into an umbrella for study centers focused on five different regions — Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia — along with the Global Studies Center.

“Each one has a commitment to providing foundational support to further their expertise on that region of the world,” Torres says.

This year, UCIS also has launched the Global Competence Certificate for faculty and staff, which is “another opportunity for faculty and staff to get involved and be prepared to engage with populations abroad or on campus,” Torres says.

The center also provides undergraduate and graduate certificates, so students can internationalize any major or minor, and does community outreach on each of the cultures it covers to primary and secondary schools in the area.

Torres says she likes to think of UCIS as “serving as the nerve center for global operations for the university.” This includes providing resources for students and faculty who are traveling and doing business abroad, supporting international students on campus and working on partnership agreements with overseas schools.

The center includes the Office of International Services, led by Genevieve Cook. The office, which was in Student Affairs until 2015, provides visa, immigration and related services to the international population at Pitt, which currently numbers about 3,200 students.

“Pitt really has a very long history of hosting international students and scholars,” says Cook, who recently, in a search of the Pitt Archives, found the minutes of a foreign student advisory committee from the 1920s. “Part of me likes to think that Pitt has always been a welcoming community for international people.”

UCIS also handles the study abroad program and the Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning.

Torres says UCIS, “serves as a catalyst for the schools on this campus and the four others to innovate and create new (global) programming.”

This year, Pitt–Bradford is following in the Oakland campus’ footsteps with its own International Week, which will be next week.

The Oakland campus International Week will kick off with the UCIS 50th anniversary celebration on Oct. 13, starting at 1 p.m. in the Cathedral of Learning commons.

Cook says the event will “celebrate UCIS and its history as well as what’s currently happening at Pitt in terms of global engagement.”

It will include tours of the Nationality Rooms, demonstrations by the areas of study, musical performers and tables from the different units and campus and community partners.

“We’re really hoping that we’ll engage not just Pitt people but the Pittsburgh community,” Cook says.

International Week runs through Oct. 19. For a full list of activities, visit the International Week website.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 412-648-4294.