Important Information for International Students

   Agenda | Posted on July 3, 2020

July 3, 2020

Greetings, Andrews University International Students:

I, along with my colleague Alayne Thorpe, dean of the College of Education & International Services, are writing to you with some important news.

Please read this email in its entirety.

First of all, we need to share some sad news that you may have already heard about elsewhere. Robert Benjamin, who has worked with and helped many of you directly, will no longer be working in the position of director of International Student Services & Programs (ISSP). This is hard news for all of us. Our students and our campus know how deeply Pastor Benjamin cares for the international student community at Andrews, and we will all miss him very much with this change in his position.

A second, and related, piece of news is that the ISSP office at Andrews has recently gone through some restructuring changes. While the physical office itself will not change noticeably (it will still be on the third floor of the Administration Building and provide the same services as before), it has become part of the new Center for On-campus International Student Services (COISS). This newly combined Center is designed to deepen our commitment to and support of the University’s international students. Whether our students are studying here on our Berrien Springs campus, studying remotely through distance education or taking Andrews courses on our more than 25 partner campuses around the world, we care for you deeply; and that care will continue.

In addition to the Office of International Student Services & Programs, the new Center for On-campus International Student Services will also include the Center for Intensive English Programs (CIEP). The main purpose of the new Center for On-campus International Student Services is to bring together all of the major on-campus programs and offices that serve international students in order to better coordinate and optimize these services within one unified Center.

To help oversee and lead that new COISS team, we have asked Christian Stuart to serve as executive director of COISS. Among other tasks, he will also be asked to perform many of the duties that Robert Benjamin had performed (including, but not limited to, I-20 and CPT/OPT guidance).

Within the ISSP office, Silmara Ferreira will continue to serve as associate director of International Student Services and Jackie Yates will continue as the International Student Financial Advisor. Finally, Luda Vine will continue to serve as the CIEP director.

As with all major institutional changes, these developments will require some adjustment time. Each of you as international students, and the staff of the new Center for On-campus International Student Services, will need time to adjust to this new paradigm. However, during this adjustment period, Andrews University continues to work to serve and support you. As a result, we ask for your prayers and thank you (in advance) for your patience as we all work through these changes.

These past few weeks have been painful for us as a University community. As you know, we have had to furlough and/or terminate the employment of some of our dear friends and colleagues. The impact of COVID-19 is placing a financial strain on many universities and organizations. Andrews University is not the only university or employer that has had to make these painful decisions. Living in the midst of a pandemic is hard!

In closing, we once again specifically thank Robert Benjamin for his many years of service to the University. I know we have all been blessed and inspired by his passion, kindness and care.

Please feel free to reach out to Christian Stuart, executive director for the Center for On-campus International Student Services, by email (, if you have any additional questions or need assistance.

Thanks to each one of you—Andrews University looks forward to serving you as we return to in-person instruction this August!


Christon Arthur