SHU Renews Focus on International Students

Dr. Jennifer Hanson Begins as Coordinator of International Student Services

Dr. Jennifer Hanson has been to almost as many countries as Baskin-Robbins has flavors.


Hanson brings that global experience to Siena Heights University as its new coordinator of International Student Services.jennifer-hanson.jpg


“In my brief time at Siena, I know there used to be more of an international presence,” said Hanson, who has taught in four different countries and has a PhD in intercultural communication from Purdue University. “It seems like Siena wants to get back to that.”


Hanson, a Philadelphia native, began her teaching career in the inner city, then decided to broaden her focus. She has taught in England and the Middle East, and served as the dean of student services at American University in Dubai for seven years before coming to Siena Heights. She has experienced her own culture shock at times during her travels – even when returning to the U.S.


“When you go overseas, you expect it to be different,” Hanson said. “But when you come back to the States, you say you’re going home to your own culture, but you’ve changed so much from being overseas and the States have evolved, too.”


Hanson earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Penn State University and a master of science degree in reading and language arts from the University of Pennsylvania.


Siena Heights President Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, has said one of her primary goals is to increase the international student population at Siena Heights. Her belief is that a better understanding of cultures and backgrounds fosters a culture of peace. To help accomplish that goal, Hanson’s position was created earlier this summer. Her primary duties will be to not only grow the international student population at Siena Heights, but to act as a resource and support advocate for Siena’s current international student population.


“Siena Heights is an institution where global awareness and internationalization is a key part of the University experience for all students,” said SHU Vice President of Enrollment Management Frank Hribar. “Jennifer’s presence, including her wealth of experiences abroad, will serve to enhance and highlight this for the community at-large.”


“It’s not starting from scratch. There are things in place,” Hanson said of Siena’s history of attracting and educating international students, which began as early as 1940. “Siena has a longstanding commitment to international students. I’ve been told that there are 23 different countries represented over the years. That’s pretty commendable. There might not be vast numbers (of international students), but there is a diversity in terms of the countries Siena has targeted.”


Using data, Hanson said the university will identify several countries to target its recruitment efforts. She said the university’s location, unique programs and mission of respecting the dignity of all will be strong marketing tools.


“Recruiting international students is intertwined with the core values of Siena, which is to respect the dignity of all people,” Hanson said. “To me, you can’t demonstrate that dignity and respect for all unless you have the ‘all’ here. To say it in words is OK, but to actually practice it are two different things. International students need to be around so you can put those values into practice.”


For more information on International Student Services, contact Dr. Hanson at 517-264-7001 or email her at


For more information on any other program at Siena Heights, please call 1-800-521-0009 or 517-264-7180.

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