Relationship-building, global perspectives and international engagement are just three of the goals Rod McSherry has in mind as interim associate provost for International and Border Programs at New Mexico State University.
Although McSherry has been on the NMSU staff since 2015, his loyalty to the university goes back to his undergrad days as an animal science major at NMSU.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in animal science from NMSU in 1984, McSherry, a native of Deming, N.M., was one of the first students to receive a master of agriculture from NMSU. McSherry received a master’s degree in international agricultural economics from NMSU in 1986. While working on his master’s, he took part in a cooperative study program with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service in Washington, which led to a 28-year career as a Foreign Service Officer. Following a stint in Washington, he headed to Moscow for his first assignment with the USDA in 1989.
From 1989 to 2011, McSherry had assignments in Moscow, Mexico City, Caracas, Bangkok, Baghdad, London and Afghanistan. His responsibilities included assessing the local agriculture situation in terms of global food security, working with host-country researchers and scholars to get them familiar with the U.S. higher education system and support the U.S. assistance efforts for global development.
In 2012, McSherry completed his tenure as a Senior Foreign Service Officer and returned to Deming to help with his family’s farm and ranch. In 2015, he joined the NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences as the Gerald Thomas Chair for Global Agricultural Initiatives, where he focused on ramping up internationalization of that college, working closely with International and Border Programs and other colleges across campus.
McSherry’s newest role is interim associate provost of International and Border Programs at NMSU, which he began Feb. 1. McSherry’s multiculturalism and experience working overseas – particularly in Mexico and Latin America – is a perfect fit for the position.
“We want to do more than just recruit international students,” McSherry said. “The nature of the job is more relationship building-based. What we’re setting out to do is supporting the university mission of globalization and internationalization. With our proximity to the border, we have a number of opportunities to do so.”
McSherry said he particularly wants to work on understanding the university’s partners in Juárez and the rest of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, along with its neighbor, Sonora.
“We’re strengthening what partnerships we have already in Chihuahua and Sonora,” McSherry said. “I grew up on the Mexican border, so I know relationships and mutual understanding are very important.”
But building relationships in those two Mexican states is not the only priority for McSherry and his office. McSherry said he is also looking forward to exploring opportunities that develop in conjunction with the founding of an NMSU campus in San Luis Potosí, and working with international corporations to develop opportunities for NMSU students systemwide. International efforts at International and Border Programs also expand beyond Mexico, with China and India being “two phenomenal sources of students, researchers and partner institutions that would be ideal for NMSU,” McSherry said.
“Rod’s great record of international service will aid NMSU as we continue our work to internationalize our university,” said NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers. “His skills and experience will also help our efforts to help create a New Mexico State University campus in San Luis Potosí.”
McSherry is also looking into increasing partnerships with the Las Cruces community via the Center for Latin American and Border Studies to feature guest speakers, including thought leaders and researchers who focus on Latin America, and through the Center for English Language Programs, which traditionally has hosted teachers from Mexico and Ecuador studying English.
“We are showcasing the College of Education to teach international groups how to teach, study and learn English, as well as helping incoming international students who need extra support with English and university professors from other countries looking to perfect their English, and get them to interact with the university community,” McSherry said. “We’d also like to get to the point where we have Spanish-language instruction and Spanish-language speakers from Mexico giving talks on campus. Naturally international, that’s who we are.”
McSherry said that overall, supporting the international mission for the university is much more complex than simply evaluating the number of international students at NMSU.
“I’d like us to have that level of comfort for people to come in and engage in global topics,” McSherry said. “I couldn’t think of a better office than this one to focus on that.”
Information from NMSU