By Natalie Crnosija

Stony Brook University’s International Academic Programs office delayed the release of relevant Summer 2009 Study Abroad program information because of repeated staff changes, said Jennifer Green, the newly appointed office’s student advisor.

Green was selected for the position at the beginning of the Spring 2009 semester.

As of Feb. 11, 2009, eight of the 12 available summer programs were missing either the program dates or cost.

“I would like to go to Montpellier, but I don’t know how much it will be,” said Maria Salgado, a student in the French Teacher Certification Program in the European Studies Department.  “I can’t go if it is too much, but if I can go and I wait too long to buy my plane ticket, the total price of the trip will be high anyway.

“They had a very high turnover rate in that office,” Professor Charles Haddad of the School of Journalism said. “They have had four different student advisors over the past year.”  Student advisors promote and provide the information about Study Abroad programs to students.  Advisors also aid in the production of these programs with individual departments and professors.

Haddad, who created the School of Journalism’s Study Abroad Program at China’s Tsinghua University with the IAP, said that he had to restart the organization of the nascent program with each new advisor.

“For these programs, we need a lot of institutional support,” Haddad said. “The advisors seemed to be the victims of bureaucratic turmoil.”

Professor William Arens, Dean of the office, was abroad and unavailable for comment.

After six months of staff changes, Haddad’s program was established, and with Green’s help, the School of Journalism’s program was linked to the university’s webpage.

Green, a former advisor in SBU’s Academic Advising Office, said that the IAP office is working to update program information.  April 1 is the application deadline for many summer study abroad programs.

The application process for the summer programs requires an application, personal essays, letters of recommendation and an official copy of the applicant’s transcript.

“We are also waiting for some information from the individual departments,” said Green.  “Making sure that the programs are financially possible for students is a high priority.”

With these rolling updates, some students are still waiting for their specific program information to be posted.

Without information about program dates or costs, students are wary of applying to any programs in the immediate future, sophomore Katie LoBiondo said.  LoBiondo applied to the Rome study abroad program, which already posted its date and program information.

Program costs, affected by current economic turmoil and the recent $600 SUNY tuition increase, still have not been posted for certain programs, like those in Madagascar, Montpellier and for Tsinghua University. The absence of information may become the deciding factor for many students as to whether they study abroad this summer.

Many graduate schools look for study abroad experience, yet only three percent of students nationwide partake in these academic opportunities, Green said.

“Whenever I applied for a job, my study abroad experience was always the first thing on my resume that people asked me about,” Green said.  “The experience can give you a competitive edge in the job market.”