Edmond’s International House to Go Global

Edmond’s International House at Central Plaza could be recognized as the 18th international house in the world by International Houses Worldwide after seeking recognition through an intensive application and review process.

“We have an opportunity, and we have an organic opportunity, in which our location is properly placed across the street from a great university who has a great vision of bringing international visitors to get a college education,” said Will Rhoads, director of the International House at Central Plaza.

The process to become recognized started last spring according to Jared Scism, assistant director of International Programming, which started with an application process. If the application is approved, the international house will be reviewed by a committee.

Depending on the reviewing committees’ results, the international house will have to send officials to go to a conference to give a presentation. If their presentation is approved, the committee will come review the international house in person.

Scism said that the entire process could take about a year or two, but it depends on how in-depth the worldwide program will go.

“At the end of the day, we seek it out (recognition from International Houses Worldwide) because it’s a great organization with likeminded people who have training programs, who have a wonderful history and we want to be a part of it,” Rhoads said.

Several big-name universities are recognized by this worldwide program, one of those being the University of California, Berkeley.

“It’s a lot of the big-name schools that are popular in the United States that have international houses (that are recognized by the program) and so it would look very good for UCO to be recognized with top schools like those,” Scism said.

According to Scism, UCO would be one of the first schools to be recognized in the midwest. The closest recognized international house to UCO is in Northern Arizona.

The International House at Central Plaza is a housing option for both international students and domestic students. However, this building is not affiliated with UCO’s Office of Housing and Dining.

Scism said that the international house is currently 80 percent international students and 20 percent domestic students, and only students can live there.

UCO’s International House used to have a location on Chowning Street in an old fraternity house, but in May 2017, it moved their offices into the International House at Central Plaza as it was being remodeled.

“The event space is huge,” Scism said. “We can host events that can hold up to 300 people and the fact that a lot of international students live here increases the international student participation in activities, which helps retention.”

Rhoads said that the way they place residents is by getting to know them on a personal level; it is about making sure they are comfortable while pursuing their education.

“Very few, when they move in here, ever leave until they graduate,” Rhoads said. “Our retention rate is close to 90 percent.”

According to Rhoads, the remodel of the building started two and a half years ago on the top floor. He said every piece of sheet rock and carpet was changed and the walls were repainted.

“Basically we have taken this building and revamped the whole thing,” Rhoads said.

Scism and Rhoads said the event areas in the International House at Central Plaza are open to all student organizations and groups on campus that would like to come rent them out for free. Those reservations can be made through on the International House page on UCO’s website.

Currently International Houses Worldwide recognize 17 other international houses and the complete list of those, as well as more information about the program, can be found on their website.

“I think the ultimate goal is to provide safe living for students seeking higher education, and promote global competency while they’re here,” Rhoads said.

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