After 32 years at Smith, overseeing substantial change and growth in the international student population, Hrayr Tamzarian, associate dean for international students, will retire, as of January 9, 2014.
In his more than three decades at the helm of the Office for International Students and Scholars, Tamzarian has guided a steady growth in the international student body, in particular during the past 10 years. Seventeen percent of the Smith Class of 2017 is international students.
As an advocate and representative of Smith’s international students, Tamzarian has been an essential resource for those who come to Smith from foreign lands. His deep knowledge of both practical and emotional aspects of living and studying at Smith as a foreign citizen have made an invaluable difference for countless students and alumnae.
Students will celebrate Tamzarian’s service to Smith during a farewell party in early December. Meanwhile, Tamzarian recently responded to questions regarding his Smith tenure, and what comes next.
Gate: What is the importance of having a significant population of international students at Smith?
Hrayr Tamzarian: International students add a different perspective to classroom discussions, they enrich the house community where they live, and teach us about the rest of the world. They make great ambassadors for future generations of Smith students from around the globe and they are some of our most loyal Smithies.
Gate: How has the presence of international students at Smith changed since you came to Smith?
HT: When I arrived at Smith in 1981 there were less than 50 international students and we could all fit in one room in Seelye, where they interviewed me. Today we have 367 international students from 75 foreign countries, representing nearly 14 percent of the student population. They are active in many student organizations, hold leadership positions in Residence Life and excel in every academic discipline.
Gate: What changes to international students at Smith do you see in the near future?
HT: I see a continuous increase in numbers and countries represented, particularly in the Pacific Rim. I see more demand for study abroad opportunities for those who would like to specialize in a third country and gain a third or fourth language proficiency. And I see a desire, among international students, to work for a few years in the United States after graduation.
Gate: What will you miss most about working with international students at Smith?
HT: I will miss many things. I will miss hearing their stories about their journey to Smith. I will miss hearing about their dreams and aspirations. I will miss their incredible optimism about the future of our world, and I will miss, most of all, hearing about their successes after leaving Smith.
Gate: What is next on your agenda?
HT: I will stay around this area until May or June, and after that I plan to move to Cape Cod to be near the ocean and near the place I first came to when I arrived in the U.S. as a young man, after growing up in several countries.