Kent State Emphasizes Commitment to Its International Students During Town Hall Meeting

We are here to help.

That was one of the main messages international students at Kent State University heard during a town hall meeting held July 9 to help answer questions and share the university’s response to a recent announcement by the federal government regarding Fall 2020 international student enrollment requirements. 

“At Kent State, we are on your side,” said Marcello Fantoni, Ph.D., the university’s associate provost for global education. “The entire institution cares about you, and wants and will help you in every way possible to succeed at staying at Kent State in the fall. You can count on us because we really want you to succeed at Kent State.”

On July 6, the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), the Department of Homeland Security program that governs international student visas, issued updated guidance for international students present in the U.S. for fall semester. This guidance stated that if international students are enrolled in all remote coursework for fall, they will not be compliant with their student visa regulations and must depart the country immediately. Recognizing that the information in this announcement may be confusing and unsettling to its students, the university sent a communication directly to its international students that evening and has provided additional updates. 

“We want to reassure you that Kent State University is committed to international student success and is exploring all possible solutions to help students maintain their immigration status in the fall and continue their education,” stated the July 7 communication from Melody Tankersley, Ph.D., interim senior vice president and provost, and Fantoni.

During the town hall meeting, Kent State’s international students had an opportunity to get answers to their questions about the federal government’s announcements and hear directly from administrators from across the university and from the Office of Global Education. Participating in this town hall meeting were:

  • Sonia Alemagno, Ph.D., dean of the College of Public Health. 
  • Salma Benhaida, director of international admissions in the Office of Global Education.
  • Jayita Datta, Psy.D., psychologist at Kent State’s DeWeese Health Center.
  • Jef Davis, Ph.D., associate director of international student and scholar services in the Office of Global Education.
  • Marcello Fantoni, Ph.D., associate provost for global education.
  • Mandy Munro-Stasiuk, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Debbie Rozner, director of the English as a Second Language Center at Kent State. 
  • Deborah Spake, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business Administration. 
  • Manfred van Dulmen, Ph.D., interim associate provost for academic affairs, interim dean of graduate studies and chair of the Reopening Steering Committee. 

Watch the full town hall meeting below:

View the Facebook Live Transcript

As Flashes take care of Flashes, the participants discussed how the colleges are approaching this matter, their outreach to students and ways for international students to meet the new federal guidance.

Benhaida talked about the various working groups that have been formed, communications that have been sent to international students and efforts being made by individuals across Kent State since the July 6 announcement.

“We have been working with colleges and academic advisors tirelessly to find face-to-face options for our students,” she said. “As of today, a few of our colleges, including public health, have already found options, and students will be in compliance before the end of the week.”

International students are strongly encouraged to contact their academic advisor or program coordinator by July 15 to discuss what face-to-face options are available for their fall schedule. 

“Rest assured, we’re working, and we’ll continue to work, and we’ll not rest until we have options for our students,” Benhaida said.

International students can find information about how to contact their academic advisor or program coordinator in their FlashLine account or by following these instructions:

For the most current information about regulations affecting international students, please visit

POSTED: Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 9:19pm
UPDATED: Friday, July 10, 2020 - 1:46pm
Emily Vincent