New UHCL administrator plans to expand international enrollment, study abroad programs

May 23, 2019 | Katherine Adams

New UHCL administrator plans to expand international enrollment, study abroad programs

Gigi Do has joined University of Houston-Clear Lake as assistant vice president for global learning and strategy and senior international officer. Do comes to UH-Clear Lake from the University of Texas at San Antonio and she said she chose her profession in higher education because of her own experience as an immigrant student in the U.S.

“Many years ago, I came to America as a refugee from Vietnam,” Do said. “I bring with me the perspective of someone who came to the U.S. for the opportunity to become educated. I became who I am because of those opportunities. I chose my profession in education because I truly believe that education is the key for social mobility and it’s the way we can give back to others who need opportunities as well.”

Do has been a Houstonian for nearly three decades. Prior to her work at UTSA, she led international initiatives at Houston Community College which has the highest international student enrollment for all U.S. community colleges, and helped open five K-12 international schools in Houston. “Having been a long-time resident here, I have cultivated a deep appreciation for the remarkable internationalist and entrepreneurial spirit of Houston, especially its great diversity," she said. 

“Dr. Do brings a wealth of experience beyond just recruiting international students,” said UH-Clear Lake Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Steven Berberich. “She has extensive experience in creating study abroad programs and has effectively networked within the city of Houston in support of international students.”

Do said that she was especially excited to begin her new position because she knew firsthand UHCL’s capabilities in higher education on the global stage. “The very first American-style accredited community college that was ever established overseas was through a partnership I helped establish at HCC with the Saigon Institute of Technology. Its chancellor and her daughter were both UHCL alumni,” Do said.

“I want to continue to tap into study abroad opportunities for UHCL students by not only leveraging our existing partnerships, but also reviving our previous global partnerships,” she said. “UHCL has been on the world stage for many international accomplishments and I believe those partners are eager to re-establish the connections. UHCL has received many accolades for great academic programs that are in high demand around the world.”

Do added she would be finding ways to connect with existing international students in Houston and help create the avenue for them to become UHCL freshmen. “I hope to increase international student enrollment by offering pathways to students that are already here. International professionals and their family members who are already in Houston are prospective students for us,” she said. “I also will be working with our diverse and talented faculty to create more study abroad opportunities for domestic students to help them become world citizens and competitive in the global employment market. Our international revenue with global partnerships will help fund our global initiatives.”

Berberich said that in her prior roles, Do initiated many programs in support of international students. “Her office established international student activities that included seminars on immigration and tax issues, study skills, effective communication workshops, and speaker series with an international focus,” he said.

Do said that one of her goals was to continue finding ways to ensure international students feel they’re part of the institution.

“Our international students should be able to identify with UHCL, and that’s why I am so excited about our new residence hall,” she said. “Not only it will help international students to stay on campus, but it will allow the domestic students to get the benefits of living with a diverse population while they’re in school.”

After spending a day on campus during her interview process, Do said she was highly impressed with the university’s international background. “I’m so eager to access the resources we already have and expand them to help the university become more globally recognized. Our Bayou Theater and Art Gallery, for example, will be a big draw for international artists, musicians and performers for future collaborations,” she said. “Houston currently has over 80 consulate offices that make up the Consular Corps, and I believe they are eager to connect with UHCL for further global engagement.”

For more information about UHCL’s international admissions, visit www.uhcl.edu/admissions/apply/international.