When something goes amiss in USF’s mazelike bureaucracy, it usually doesn’t bode well for students. But if this happens to an international student, the experience can be outright frightening. Thankfully though, International Student and Scholar Services exhibits a sense of professionalism that often goes well beyond what USF is required to do for students. And even though one of the key staff members in those offices is leaving this week, many other sectors of USF could learn from ISSS.
David Austell has been director at ISSS for 12 years, during which he carefully established a sense of concern for student’s needs. Austell is leaving USF this week to become Wayne State University’s new executive director of international programs.
Austell’s integral role at ISSS cannot be denied. Yet the remaining staff will be more than capable of filling his shoes, as they have exhibited over the past years — in which post-Sept. 11 decrees from the government put their skills at making life easy for students to the test every day.
Students can rest assured that while they will likely miss Austell’s cheerful first-name hellos and handshakes, the remaining staff will do their best to maintain the high standard students have become accustomed to.
International students rely on professional help from the ISSS staff to manage their immigration papers, as well as the odd legal matter that is bound to crop up when their citizenship status causes additional problems in the of the many bureaucratic hurdles that mark every student’s career.
ISSS also handles a large part of the admission process for international students, which is often the first glimpse new visitors have of the United States. It is therefore only fitting that the staff try to make this first impression as inviting as possible.
Particularly because the smallest mistake in paperwork can result in individuals being flagged by the Department of Homeland Security, this is a daunting task. But the staff tries their best not only to help students navigate what could otherwise be a very intimidating and often draconian system, they also manage to do so in a way that puts students at ease during otherwise potentially stressful situations.
It can only be hoped that the sense of professionalism shown every day at the ISSS offices not only continues, but that other branches of USF take it as an example.