Pittsburgh – Ida Mansourian, the new executive director of international programs at Robert Morris University, has been to more than 40 countries, on every continent except Antarctica. Now she aims to expand both the university’s study abroad programs and international offerings on campus.
“We don’t want student travel experiences to just be a memory for their photo album,” Mansourian said. “I would like it to be a teaser for them to start enhancing their global understanding more and more, for when they enter the workforce.”
RMU sent 158 students abroad last year for short or long study programs, almost double the number from the previous academic year. The university has students from more than 40 countries on its Moon Township campus, and through the Rooney Visiting Scholars Program has brought 18 professors and experts from Europe, Africa, Australia, Asia, the Middle East and most recently the Navajo Nation to conduct research, teach, or conduct service projects.
Born and raised in Tehran, Iran, Mansourian studied architecture before moving to Germany in 1984. She was a student in Cologne for three years, then came to the United States, earning a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from Arizona State University and a master’s of education in multicultural studies from Northern Arizona University. After working as an environmental consultant, in 1996 Mansourian took a job in the international education office of Mesa Community College, one of the nation’s biggest community colleges. As the program’s director for the past five years, she organized an international film festival and oversaw MCC’s participation in the Shared Futures Project, a global learning pilot program under the Association of American Colleges and Universities involving 18 institutions, including Carnegie Mellon University.
“When I saw how much emphasis (RMU President Gregory G. Dell’Omo) places on global learning, I told myself that this is a place where international education programs can get a lot of support and many things can happen,” Mansourian said.