Monday, May 09, 2016

Peace Corps retiring Masters International Programs, including 10 at Michigan Tech

By Jennifer Donovan, Michigan Tech Director of News and Media Relations
Posted May 5, 2016, on Tech Today
Reprinted with permission

Michigan Tech Peace Corps Masters International computer science graduate student Tim Ward is pictured here with members of his host community on the island nation of Vanuatu. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

HOUGHTON -- The Peace Corps announced this week that it is retiring all of its Master’s International graduate school programs after nearly three decades of partnerships with 96 graduate universities across the country.

The move will take place over a number of years so that students in the program and entering the program in the coming year will be able to complete their degrees after their studies and service.

The programs at Michigan Tech are included in the phase-out. From inception, Michigan Tech’s Peace Corps Master’s International (PCMI) became a signature program for the university. Tech’s PCMI program has been the largest among the 96 participating universities in the nation nine years in a row. PCMI students from Tech have served in 52 countries around the world.

"The Masters International Program has been a very distinctive program for Michigan Tech," said President Glenn Mroz.  "It was started because there was a shortage of volunteers with forestry training in the Peace Corps. As the relationship grew, we became aware of a number of other hard-to-fill skill areas; and the programs expanded to meet those needs."

Peace Corps Masters International graduate student Erica Jones helps a village boy shuck beans in Panama. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

Michigan Tech has 10 PCMI degree programs in departments across campus. They include applied natural resource economics, applied science education, biological sciences, civil and environmental engineering, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, forest resources and environmental science, mechanical engineering, mitigation of geological natural hazards and rhetoric, theory and culture.

"Over the years, we adopted other Peace Corps programs, and those will continue at Michigan Tech," said President Mroz.

They include an undergraduate Peace Corps Prep program and graduate Coverdell Fellowships for returned Peace Corps volunteers.

"We are incredibly grateful that this program laid the foundation for strong relationships with so many universities," Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. "Although the Peace Corps has outgrown the goals of the Master’s International program, we’re looking forward to continuing our collaboration with our valued university partners, knowing there are so many opportunities to unite their strong academic competency with our core mission of sustainable, positive change."

Kari Henquinet, director of Michigan Tech’s PCMI programs, said: "Universities have partnered with the Peace Corps in many different ways over the past 55 years. While we are sad to see the robust collaboration in Master's International begin to phase out, Michigan Tech is in conversation with the Peace Corps director about not only continuing our other partner programs, but also exploring new ones."

Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide.

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