FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Two new endowment funds have been created by University of North Alabama (UNA) faculty members to benefit the UNA Office of International Affairs and international students in need of financial assistance.

UNA Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Ross Alexander and his wife Lilia, a political science instructor at UNA, created the endowment fund to help international students who experience unforeseen circumstances while at UNA. This could include things such as emergency travel expenses or temporary financial support.

Lilia Alexander, a former international student, and native of Bulgaria told News 19 that she has personally experienced the uncertainty that international students can face when emergencies happen.

“We want to ensure that all of our students, regardless of their circumstances, are supported so they can be successful and they can complete their degree,” Alexander said.

The second fund, created by Senior Vice Provost of International Affairs Dr. Chunsheng Zhang and his wife Dr. Guihua Li, will benefit the entire Office of International Affairs.

Zhang told News 19 that the funds will be used to help with international student recruitment.

“The two endowment funds will help, both supporting the international students as well as cultivating foreign partnerships more effectively,” Zhang said.

Zhang also told News 19 that international students make up more than eight percent of the total student population at UNA. According to a study performed by the university, the economic impact on the Shoals area is worth around $18.2 million annually.

To contribute to either of these endowment funds, you can go to UNA’s website here.