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Internationalization in Action: Engaging Faculty in Internationalization, Part 1

December 30, 1899


On the Books: Faculty Policies and Procedures

By Robin Matross Helms, Senior Research Specialist at ACE, and Alegneta Asfaw, Graduate Research Associate at ACE

In a 2000 article entitled "The Worthy Goal of a Worldly Faculty" (AAC&U Peer Review,  Fall 2000) Patti McGill Peterson, now ACE's Presidential Advisor for Global Initiatives, described the crucial role that faculty play in institutional internationalization efforts, particularly in shifting culture and sustaining such efforts over time.  She wrote:

Students graduate, but the faculty remain and serve as the stewards of the curriculum.  As a group, they have the capacity to set a deeply embedded foundation for the international and intercultural character of an institution.  Investing in the worldliness quotient of all college and university faculty – not just the area studies specialists – has the potential to pay off in myriad ways.

Nearly a decade and a half later, most institution leaders would likely agree that faculty are indeed key to the success of internationalization. Faculty are, in many ways, the heart of the whole academic enterprise.  They are the drivers of teaching and research in any institution, shaping and delivering the curriculum and carrying out the institution's research mission. These areas are critical to any institutional internationalization effort.

However, recognizing that faculty are crucial to internationalization is one thing – getting them involved is another.  Faculty are extremely busy, and often feel pulled in multiple and competing directions – particularly younger faculty who are balancing their jobs with dual-career coupledom and other family responsibilities.  And, as an attendee at ACE's recent Leadership Network meeting observed, faculty are often "inherently skeptical." For those who have been around for a while, internationalization may seem like a passing fancy – yet another administrative fad that will come and go, and nothing to get too excited about, or involved in.

A Strategic Approach

Despite these obstacles, given the priority many campuses are placing on internationalization, most have at least some level of engagement in the process by at least some faculty.  Almost certainly, there are faculty scattered around campus who maintain personal and professional relationships with counterparts abroad, often over long periods.  A handful of faculty may travel overseas for conferences, or lead a student group as part of a course.  Some disciplines lend themselves nicely to international course content, and faculty may emphasize these areas in their teaching.

The challenge, however, is to strategically scale up and systematize faculty engagement in internationalization. Doing so requires a sustained effort by institutions to align policies and programs, think creatively, and capitalize on existing resources that can be applied in new ways. 

This installment of Internationalization in Action and the following installment focus on the key challenges institutions face in this process, and examples of good practices and campus models for addressing these issues and encouraging deep, on-going engagement by faculty throughout the institution.  Part 1 below addresses issues related to policies and procedures; Part 2 (posted in June 2013) addresses professional development for faculty, and their role in internationalizing the curriculum.

Part 1 – On the Books: Faculty Policies and Procedures

As employees of complex, often bureaucratic organizations, college and university faculty are subject to a wide array of policies – formal and informal – at both the institutional and "unit" (college or departmental) levels.  Such policies can go a long way towards facilitating faculty engagement in internationalization, or conversely, can significantly inhibit such involvement.  The following common challenges among institutions seeking to internationalize and engage their faculty in the process can be can be addressed, at least in part, through careful consideration and alignment of faculty-related policies and procedures.

Challenge #1: Achieving a "Critical Mass"
Challenge #2: Tenure and Promotion Policies
Challenge #3: The Budget
Challenge #4: Building Strategic Relationships Abroad


Challenge #1: Achieving a "Critical Mass"

We just don't have that many international or internationally-focused faculty on campus.  How do we build a "critical mass" of faculty with international expertise and experience?

  • Consider international background and experience as a criterion in the hiring process.  This is perhaps the most intuitively obvious solution to this problem, and indeed, one that more and more campuses are implementing.  When faculty come to the institution with established teaching and research connections abroad – or personal connections that have the potential to become professional – they can be ready to hit the ground running in terms of contributing to campus internationalization. 

At Wagner College, all faculty position announcements include the following language about engagement in internationalization:

"Located in an increasingly diverse metropolitan area, Wagner College is committed to scholarship and community outreach relevant to the needs of New York City.  Wagner values campus diversity (domestic and international) and in keeping with this initiative, it welcomes applications from diverse candidates and candidates who support diversity and internationalization efforts."

In addition, at the interview phase, all faculty candidates meet with members of Wagner's Internationalization Council and the Diversity Action Council so they can understand the College's commitment to these issue.

For those applicants who make it to the interview stage at Earlham College, Dr. Gregory Mahler, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean, asks candidates directly as part of the interview process, "How will you contribute to campus internationalization?"  He notes:

"This question is usually not one that job candidates expect (e.g. 'Where do you see your career five years from today?'), but it does often generate some interesting conversation, and encourages faculty to think about Earlham's internationalization as a possible source of their own professional development. 

Candidates usually see the question as an exciting opportunity.  I talk with faculty about what they can bring to us, and sometimes it generates some thinking that they hadn't previously done -- like the astro-physicist who started talking about her ability to take students with her to a research telescope in Australia – and sometimes it gives them an opportunity to discuss in a very animated way parts of their academic identities that they're likely to highlight."

International Faculty - Numbers on the Rise

In the past twenty years, the number of international faculty members at American institutions has increased at a rapid pace. The number of full-time foreign-born faculty members in 1969 was 28,200 (10 percent of total) and reached 126,123 in 2007.

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data show that of the 11,599 new tenure-track faculty at four-year degree-granting institutions in 2009, 11.5 percent (1,332) were nonresident aliens, higher than Asian American (10.5 percent), African American (0.5 percent), and Hispanic (0.4 percent) representations. 


Source: Kim, D., Twombly, S. and Wolf-Wendel, L. (2012), International Faculty in American Universities: Experiences of Academic Life, Productivity, and Career Mobility. New Directions for Institutional Research, 2012: 27–46. doi: 10.1002/ir.2002

  • Take advantage of faculty turnover to refocus positions.  When a faculty member retires or leaves the institution, there is a potential opportunity to redefine the vacant position and incorporate an international focus.  For example, an English literature position could be reconceived as a comparative literature position.  In smaller departments where faculty teach a broader range of courses, the position description can be modified to include a requirement for an international perspective in teaching, and/or international research activities.
  • Bring international faculty to campus on a short-term basis.  Many of us remember a popular high school exchange student, and the impact a dynamic, engaged international classmate can have over the course of just a semester or a year.  The same is true for visiting faculty, particularly at institutions where students have had little international exposure.  Importantly, the relationships formed during a short-term stay may lead to broader collaborations and institution-level connections down the road.

Rather than bringing international guest lecturers to campus for just one event, Allegheny College invites them to stay for a week and teach a one-credit mini-course for students.  An Allegheny faculty member helps facilitate each course, which encourages faculty-to-faculty connections and lays the groundwork for additional collaborations and longer-term relationships.  Courses taught as part of this program include:

Institution-sponsored short-term visiting faculty programs

Princeton University – Global Scholars Program
Indiana University – International Short-term Visitors Grants
University of Rochester – Visiting Scholars Fund

Short-Term International Visiting Scholar Programs

While some institutions have the funding and staff needed to administer their own short-term visiting international faculty programs, for those that do not have such resources available, Fulbright and other national programs can be an excellent solution.  Examples include:

  • Fulbright Visiting Scholars program provides grants to approximately 800 foreign scholars annually from over 95 countries to lecture and/or conduct postdoctoral research at U.S. institutions for an academic semester to a full academic year.
  • Fulbright Occasional Lecturer Fund provides travel awards through the Occasional Lecturer Fund, which enable Fulbright Visiting Scholars who are currently in the U.S. to accept guest lecturing invitations at other colleges and universities.
  • Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence (SIR) Program enables U.S. colleges and universities to host foreign academics to lecture on a wide range of subject fields for a semester or academic year.
  • Scholar Rescue Fund provides fellowships for established scholars whose lives and work are endangered in their home countries. Scholars are invited to a department or school to conduct research, perhaps teach or co-teach a course, or participate in a guest lecture series. Fellowships can last anywhere from 3 to 12 months.
  • Maximize the impact of those international faculty you DO have.  Given the increasing focus on hiring in order to internationalize the faculty, institutions must also consider what happens to those international and internationally-focused faculty when they arrive on campus.  Rather than assuming that their presence alone will contribute to internationalization, making sure these faculty are given clear opportunities to share their expertise is important.

    Admissions offices, for example, can tap international faculty to help evaluate applications from their home countries; faculty with experience living in other cultures might help deliver orientation programs for international students.  International and internationally-focused faculty might also be asked to review Fulbright and other scholarship applications, serve on internationalization committees (see the previous installment of Internationalization in Action, and act as resources for area studies centers and departments that focus on their country or region of origin.

Georgetown University's Mortara Center for International Studies serves as a hub for international work on campus. The Center sponsors research seminars, faculty book labs, and faculty book launches focused on international topics, and showcases the work of visiting international scholars and faculty with international expertise.

Creating Connections: Bringing Faculty International Expertise to the Community

Many institutions capitalize on their existing faculty resources and increase faculty exposure through "speakers' bureaus." Such programs generally involve a searchable database with faculty profiles; they can serve as a useful tool in connecting community members to faculty who can speak effectively on international topics, and for expanding the reach of such faculty members' impact beyond the walls of the institution.

Some institutions have also developed specific programs to engage faculty in community outreach on international topics and projects.  Ohio State University's Global School Bus Program, for example, allows schools and civic groups to request faculty speakers who "are proficient at engaging a variety of audiences and leading activities to help groups learn about other countries and their cultures."  Appalachian State University's AS-U-GO Global Outreach Program provides a similar service to the local community.


International Perspectives:
Policies on Overseas Faculty Recruitment by Foreign Governments and Institutions
  • China:  In 2011, the Chinese government started the Thousand Foreign Experts program, a continuation of their Thousand Talents program instituted in 2008. The programs are designed to attract foreign academics and entrepreneurs to China to help improve research and innovation. It has already attracted more than 200 applicants from the United States, Japan and Germany according to Chinese officials. Under the new program, successful candidates receive a subsidy of up to $160,000, and scientific researchers receive a hefty research allowance between $500,000 to $800,000.

    In addition, the government has instituted the 100 Scholar program, which recruits scientists or technologists from around the world, as well as the Changjiang (Yangtze) Scholar Project which provides funding for high-level academics from both China and other countries to work in Chinese higher education institutions.

    At the institutional level, many universities are organizing special committees responsible for recruiting overseas faculty members, and implementing clear policies for recruiting a certain quota of overseas faculty members. For example, Beijing Normal University's policy is to recruit one-third of new faculty members from overseas each year.  Universities also offer competitive salaries and provide large start-up research grants to returnees.
  • South Korea:  Sogang University is one of dozens of universities in South Korea trying to increase the number of foreign faculty members, and many are now offering compensation packages comparable with those of American institutions. The government is supporting these institutions with millions of dollars in funding.

    The government's World Class University Project, which received $752-million last year, has fueled the process, pushing colleges to hire "outstanding foreign scholars." Seoul National University alone invited 59 foreign professors in 2010. Foreign hires are now a key criterion for government financial support.
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE):  The UAE has successfully attracted world-class universities and international faculty to their region through generous financial offers and other incentives. The Abu Dhabi campus of NYU is a prime example. This new facility was built and paid for by the local emir. Positioned as "the world's honors college," it includes a large American faculty attracted by subsidized housing, school tuition coverage for dependents, and business-class travel.


Keep reading! See Part 2 for more on faculty development.

While policies are important, to really maximize engagement in internationalization, faculty development programs and opportunities for international and domestic-born faculty alike are a key part of the equation. This topic is covered in detail in the subsequent installment of Internationalization in Action, which was posted in June 2013.


Challenge #2: Tenure & Promotion Policies

International engagement by faculty is not rewarded – or even addressed – in our tenure and promotion policies, so in the face of many competing priorities, faculty have little incentive to get involved.

  • Amend tenure policies.  Though certainly not an easy process, some institutions that have prioritized internationalization have successfully incorporated international engagement into their formal tenure policies and procedures.  Examples include:
Institution and Policy Summary

Becker College
Faculty Portfolio Rubric for Promotion

In their tenure dossiers, faculty are required to include examples of how they have integrated global citizenship into their courses. "Global citizenship" is defined as: "Global citizens have acquired knowledge, skills, and attitudes through a variety of experiences that enable them to understand world cultures, events, and global systems; appreciate cultural differences; and apply this knowledge and appreciation to their lives as citizens and workers so that they may thrive, contribute to, and lead in a global society."
Binghamton University
Procedures for Personnel Cases
Faculty are asked to document their contributions to internationalization of the institution, use of materials from other countries and cultures in their teaching, and involvement in student study abroad programs. Their research contributions must be reviewed by peers with a "national or international reputation" in the field, and service contributions to the international community are considered.
Michigan State University
Recommendation for Reappointment, Promotion or Tenure Action Form
(see Form D)
Department chairs are asked to rate candidates' work in "international studies and programs," if applicable, and are invited (though not required) to comment qualitatively on candidates' contributions in the areas of "international instruction," international community service, international student advising, and efforts to build international competence.
Oregon State University
Criteria for Promotion & Tenure
OSU "is committed to educating, both on and off campus, the citizens of Oregon, the nation, and the international community, and in expanding and applying knowledge." Faculty are required to document their international engagement in teaching (e.g. in international programs, distance education) and service.
Rutgers University
Academic Reappointments/Promotions
(see Form 1-a)
Faculty are required to document international courses taught on-campus or abroad, international student advising, international studies and programs grants received, and "significant contributions to local, national, or international communities."
University of Minnesota
Faculty Tenure Policy
"International activities and initiatives by the candidate should be considered" in tenure and promotion decisions. A faculty member must demonstrate that she or he has "established and is likely to continue to develop a distinguished record of academic achievement that is the foundation for a national or international reputation or both."


When changes are made to the tenure code, some strategies can help smooth the transition and facilitate implementation. These include:

  • Get the timing right.  Changes to the tenure code should not be made at the beginning of the internationalization process. Rather, internationalization should already be a clear institutional priority, with broad buy-in by faculty, and a culture that has come to value international work already.
  • Allow for departmental flexibility.  What "international engagement" means in one field may be very different from what it means in another. Allowing individual schools or departments the latitude to determine for themselves what kinds of internationally-focused work makes sense given the field of study and department culture can help increase faculty-buy in and the likelihood that any policy changes will be effective.
  • Publicize – and explain – the changes.  In all things related to tenure policies, transparency is key. Making sure that faculty at all levels know about any changes made, understand the rationale behind them, and can make sense of the real-life implications in terms of their work is crucial to ensuring that the changes are taken seriously and implemented effectively. Town hall meetings, workshops, and an open-door policy for faculty at all levels to ask questions and express concerns can help get the word out and facilitate buy-in. If a faculty senate exists, their approval is almost certainly required for changes to the tenure code, so they can be an effective ally in promoting and explaining the changes at the time of implementation.

When the University of Minnesota amended its tenure code in 2007 to include international engagement as a criterion for tenure and promotion, internationalization was already well underway, and had become an integral part of the institution's mission and goals.  While changes were made to the institution-wide tenure code, each department was also required to spell out in its own tenure policies the level and type of international engagement that would be required of its faculty; this allowed for substantial flexibility for departments to craft requirements that fit their own disciplines and departmental cultures. 

At the time of implementation, Dr. Arlene Carney, Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs, met with each department chair to discuss the implications and implementation of the new policies, and held open meetings for faculty and other stakeholders to learn about and discuss the changes.

Institution Insights: Three Takes on Tenure
  • Deeper, sustained engagement is what counts.  When reviewing tenure files, Jerome Gilbert, Provost and Executive Vice President at Mississippi State University, is looking for evidence of deep international engagement, and faculty relationships that are sustained – and grow – over time. "The fact that a faculty member once attended an international conference is not going to favorably impact her or his tenure decision unless something more results," he notes. Rather, a research partnership that evolves into a teaching collaboration and involves other faculty and students will stand out.
  • Focus on faculty work, and the tenure process will follow.  Rather than overt (and potentially controversial) changes to the institutional tenure code, Suzanne Shipley, President of Shepherd University, suggests focusing on the work faculty are engaged in day-to-day. She explains, "If you help faculty internationalize their course content and research initiatives, consideration of their efforts and accomplishments in these areas will naturally make its way into the tenure process."
  • Thinking outside the box – an alternative to tenure..  Since the 1970's, new faculty at Webster University have had the option to enter the traditional tenure track, or choose an alternative career plan that allows them to spend a year teaching at one of the institution's six campuses abroad every three years. Currently, approximately 50% of Webster's faculty are on the latter plan, ensuring a steady supply of faculty for Webster's campuses abroad, and a continually renewed international perspective on the home campus.

While changing the tenure code is a possibility at some institutions, at others, it may truly not be feasible.  Some institutions are simply not ready to add international engagement as a criterion in the formal tenure code; at others, no institution-wide formal tenure policies exist.  Those institutions at which faculty are unionized often have set-in-stone policies that cannot be changed.  In these situations, the following strategies can serve as a starting point for bringing attention to the faculty international engagement, and perhaps open the door for broader changes down the road.

  • First address policies that inhibit international engagement.  Sometimes "standard operating procedures" for tenure decisions have unintended consequences.  For example, a policy that weights single-authored publications over those that are co-authored is likely to discourage faculty from pursuing a research collaboration with a colleague abroad, for example, since research collaborations by nature are likely to lead to a co-authored product.  A careful examination of current policies and discussion of their de facto implications for junior faculty is an important first step in removing existing barriers.
  • Educate the entire decision chain.  At most institutions, a variety of stakeholders are involved in each tenure and promotion decision – faculty serving on departmental tenure committees, department chairs, administrators such as the provost and/or a vice provost, and in some cases the board of trustees.  Educating all parties involved on the importance of faculty engagement in internationalization and how it furthers broader institutional goals will help ensure that international faculty work is at least "on the radar" of key decision-makers in the process.
  • Make effective use of recommendation letters.  Faculty with substantial international engagement experience should be encouraged to seek recommendation letters that highlight this work – and importantly, that emphasize its relevance and connection to larger institutional goals.  Key senior faculty involved in internationalization efforts are well-placed to write such letters.  Efforts should also be made to ensure that letters written by international colleagues are valued in the process; faculty might be coached to confer with senior colleagues as to whom in the international arena would be best to approach for such letters.
  • Create and promote faculty awards for engagement in internationalization.  For better or worse, many tenure codes focus on counting – publications, courses taught, course evaluations.  Faculty awards are easily countable, and stand out in a tenure dossier.  Internationally-focused faculty awards, at least to some extent, help quantify recipients' international work, and bring attention to it in the tenure process.

Faculty Awards for International Engagement

University of Minnesota - Award for Global Engagement
Virginia Tech - Alumni Awards for Excellence in International Outreach, International Research, and International Education
University of Maryland - Distinguished International Service Award
University of Illinois – Sheth Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement
University of Kansas - George and Eleanor Woodyard International Educator Award
Indiana University - John W. Ryan Award for Distinguished Contributions to International Programs and Studies

Phi Beta Delta Membership – Another "Countable" Credential

Phi Beta Delta, the Honor Society for International Scholars is a membership based national honor society that recognizes scholarly achievement in international education. It was founded at California State University, Long Beach in 1986, and was established as a national organization in 1987 with 38 chartered chapters. Faculty, staff, and scholars who have distinguished themselves in the area of international education may apply directly or be nominated for membership. Membership is awarded based on evidence of active involvement in international endeavors such as teaching courses with an international focus, overseas teaching, conducting research overseas and/or research on international topics, and participating in overseas projects.

Engage senior faculty.
  A senior faculty member who spoke at a recent higher education conference noted three phases of the faculty career: first, one is a "citizen of her or his discipline," second, a "citizen of the institution" and finally, a "citizen of the world."  While changes to the faculty reward system are important in the long run, they can take time to be effective. In the meantime, senior faculty who have already made it through the tenure process may feel more free to explore international opportunities than their junior counterparts, and may be at a point in their careers when they are taking an outward-focuses perspective on their work.

By the Numbers:
ACE's Mapping Internationalization on US Campuses Study

ACE's Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses 2012 study found that 68% of responding institutions consider international background in hiring faculty in fields that are not explicitly international – up sharply from 32% in 2006. 

In contrast, only 8% of institutions delineate international work as a criterion for tenure – up only 4 percentage points since 2001.



Challenge #3: The Budget

We'd love to send more faculty abroad, but that's expensive and budgets are tight.

  • A little goes a long way.  Small grants that allow faculty to spend a limited period of time abroad or complete a short-term project can open the door for greater involvement down the road.  Such grants, even of just a couple thousand dollars, send a message about the priority institutions place on faculty international engagement, and can spur faculty motivation to pursue additional opportunities.

Grants for Faculty International Activity

Kansas State University - International Incentive Grants
University of Kansas – International grants and programs
Community College of Baltimore County – Faculty International Travel (FIT) Grant
University of Minnesota – Funding for international activities

Strategic Planning and the Budget: A Critical Link

The CIGE Model for Comprehensive Internationalization is comprised of six interconnected target areas for institutional initiatives, policies, and programs.  At the top of the list is "articulated institutional commitment," i.e. incorporation of internationalization goals into an institution's mission and strategic plan.  When internationalization is front and center as a strategic priority, it can be easier to overcome hurdles to faculty engagement, such as lack of budget, resistance to changes in hiring policies, etc.

At Allegheny College, internationalization is one of three strategic priorities in the college's most recent strategic plan, Combinations 2020, from 2009. Linda DeMeritt, Provost and Dean of the College, notes that as a result, she has been able to 'repurpose' funds originally designated for other projects in order to focus on the international.  For example, 25% of the annual budget for the college's 'faculty innovation fund' has been earmarked for international projects.  Dr. DeMeritt has also focused on international candidates for faculty hiring.  She attributes her ability to implement these changes with the full support of the campus community to the clear and coherent message conveyed by her institution's strategic plan.

More broadly, having clear strategic goals related to internationalization may facilitate fundraising.  For example, the University of North Carolina Greensboro's 2009-2014 strategic plan includes the integration of international and intercultural experiences and perspectives in teaching, learning and research among its five major goals.  A major capital campaign was underway as the plan was being formulated, which resulted in a $4 million gift intended to support initiatives to internationalize the campus and offer students exposure to a global perspective.

  • Actively promote outside programs and funding sources.  Even in tough budgetary times, the U.S. government and other organizations sponsor programs and funding opportunities for faculty international engagement.  Institutions should make sure that faculty have access to information about such opportunities (e.g. through a centralized website) and are encouraged to apply, and should ensure that broader institutional policies (e.g. allowing a leave from teaching) facilitate their participation if selected.  A research office, or Office of Sponsored Programs, is often well positioned to help with this process.

The Office of Sponsored programs (OSP) at Troy University encourages and supports faculty in their pursuit of sponsored funding for international travel and work.  OSP maintains a database of opportunities and programs in order to promote them to faculty;  faculty also have the opportunity to participate in several free training sessions designed to educate them on the policies, procedures, and processes of grant writing, which can be followed up with one-on-one follow-up sessions with OSP staff as faculty complete the application process.

 U.S. Government Funding for Faculty Travel Abroad: Four Big Names
Department of State The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program sends approximately 1,100 American scholars and professionals per year to approximately 125 countries, where they lecture and/or conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields.

The Fulbright Specialist Program (FSP) promotes linkages between U.S. academics and professionals and their counterparts at host institutions overseas. The program is designed to award grants to qualified U.S. faculty and professionals, in select disciplines, to engage in short-term collaborative 2 to 6 week projects at host institutions in over 100 countries worldwide.
Department of Education American Overseas Research Centers provide grants to support faculty stipends and other costs abroad.

Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program contributes to the development and improvement of the study of modern foreign languages and area studies in the United States by providing training opportunities for faculty, teachers, and upperclassmen and/or graduate students in foreign countries outside of Western Europe.

U.S.-Brazil Higher Education Consortia Program fosters university partnerships through the exchange of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff within the context of bilateral curricular development.
National Science Foundation NSF/European Commission Implementing Arrangement (July 2012) provides opportunities for NSF-funded early career scientists and engineers to pursue research collaborations with European colleagues supported through the European Research Council (ERC) awards.
USAID Higher Education for Development funds higher education-based partnerships that target development challenges worldwide, many of which are faculty-initiated. Each partnership links a higher education institution in the United States with another institution in a host country. In support of USAID's development goals, partners work together to address a wide range of challenges—from public health to entrepreneurship training, and beyond.


A Focus on Fulbright: Guidance from a Fulbright Ambassador

In order to take advantage of Fulbright programs and maximize the impact of faculty participation, John P. Allegrante, Deputy Provost of Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Fulbright Ambassador, recommends the following strategies:

Get informed.  Fulbright's Ambassador Program recruits, trains and engages alumni to serve as official representatives of Fulbright at events and on campuses. Ambassadors visit institutions upon request to speak to faculty and students about the programs, and can help facilitate on-going communication with faculty as they consider participating and mounting their applications.

Increase scholar visibility and promote the program through national initiatives. During International Education Week each fall, which is sponsored by U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education, Dr. Allegrante organizes a panel discussion of Fulbright scholars and students from various countries; he organizes a similar event during a week-long program for International Week at Teachers College in the spring.  Taking advantage of the Occasional Lecturer Fund, he also brings Fulbright Scholars from other countries that are based at other U.S. institutions to the Columbia and Teachers Colleges campus for 2-3 days of lectures and other cultural exchange activities each academic year.

Build long-lasting relationships.  Dr. Allegrante notes, "Fulbright is a cultural exchange mechanism around the world.  It is academic as well but the main purpose is to create lasting bonds and partnerships with people from various countries and cultures."  Years after completing his initial Fulbright Specialist visit to Iceland, Dr. Allegrante has continued collaborating on projects with colleagues in Iceland.  Through the support of a Fulbright Scholar grant, Dr. Allegrante was able to visit Iceland and build a working relationship with Icelandic faculty, which has since resulted in significant ongoing collaborations that are now funded and have led to the production of numerous published scientific papers and an exchange agreement between Teachers College and an Icelandic institution of higher education.

  • Engage faculty in student-focused opportunities.  Some such opportunities can be self-supporting, for example when a faculty member teaches a summer course abroad and her or his salary for that time is covered by tuition revenue generated from the course. Some institutions, as well as other funders, offer grants for student research abroad that also include collaboration with and participation by faculty members.

Faculty-Student International Research Programs

Cornell University International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development
Community College of Philadelphia: Student-faculty International Fellowship Program
Coastal Carolina University and Universidad San Francisco de Quito: Student-faculty Research Cooperative Program
Norwegian Partnership Programme (PPNA) for Collaboration in Higher Education with North America

  • Tap international partner institutions.  International partner institutions abroad, particularly those with which the US institution has an ongoing and successful relationship, may be willing to cost-share in order to bring US faculty to teach or conduct research on their campuses.

The Ohio State University (OSU) recently established a new partnership with FAPESP (Sao Paulo Research Foundation) through a 1:1 matching grant with the goal of enhancing research collaborations and exchanges among scholars in Brazil and at OSU. The cost-sharing agreement resulted in Ohio State University successfully raising $700,000, which was matched by Sao Paulo Research Foundation and now funds seed grants for research collaborations across institutions. 

  • Encourage international sabbaticals and allow unpaid leave.  While most institutions have faculty sabbatical policies and programs in place, many faculty opt to stay close to home during their leave time.  Encouraging faculty to get away and providing support for those who chose to spend their time abroad not only builds faculty international expertise, but the "change of scenery" can have positive impacts on creativity and productivity more broadly.

    In addition, faculty with expertise in a particular area may occasionally be tapped for short-term paid engagements abroad – for example, a political science professor who is invited to work for the government of a foreign country for a year.  While the institution loses the faculty member for a limited period of time, the international insights and connections she or he gains during the time away can positively impact teaching and future international research collaborations upon return. 

At Teachers College, Columbia University, Deputy Provost John P. Allegrante, a former Fulbright Scholar and now the Fulbright Campus Representative at his institution, has set an ambitious goal of encouraging 1-2 faculty members per year to pursue a Fulbright award to support international sabbaticals.  In order to accommodate the complex and time-consuming administrative processes involved, Dr. Allegrante established a tracking system to monitor where faculty are in their sabbatical timeline so he can begin planning with them well in advance of the start of their planned sabbaticals and leaves.

Beyond the Budget: Non-Monetary Support Mechanisms

While funding for faculty engagement in internationalization is certainly important, Dr. Donna Scarboro, Associate Provost for International Programs at The George Washington University, also emphasizes the importance of non-monetary support.  She notes, for example, that while faculty traveling abroad are ultimately responsible for making their own travel and other arrangements, having a designated administrator to provide resources and support, as well as assist with contracts and student registrations for faculty-led programs, allows faculty to focus on program content, and makes the whole process less daunting for them.

Ensuring that institution travel procedures (e.g. for expense reimbursement) can easily accommodate international travel is also important, as is making sure that support staff (e.g. in the budget office, registrar's office, etc.) are also part of the internationalization process, and understand the need to accommodate and facilitate international activities by faculty and students.


Keep reading!  See Part 2 for more on maximizing the impact of faculty experiences abroad.

Making sure that the knowledge and perspectives faculty acquire during their time abroad make it into their teaching and other work on campus is key to the success of internationalization efforts.  This topic is covered in detail in the subsequent installment of Internationalization in Action, which was posted in June 2013.



Challenge #4: Build Strategic Relationships Abroad

It seems like a lot of faculty have individual collaborations with colleagues abroad, but we don't know how to turn those connections into broader strategic relationships. 

  • Capitalize on the enthusiasm of your faculty "champions."  At the heart of many institutional partnerships is a single faculty member or group of faculty members who are deeply committed to the relationship and feel a personal stake in its success.  It is often these "champions" who are most familiar with the ins and outs of the relationship and how their colleagues might get involved, so they can serve as key catalysts for expanding and strengthening strategic partnerships.

When the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD) created  four new professional programs in China, Chinese faculty in Stanford's School of Engineering and other departments were instrumental in the development process.   Stemming from a commitment to serve their home country and "give back," these faculty took on the role of "ambassador" among their colleagues, encouraging their participation in the venture and acting as advisors to SCPD  as the programs were developed.

  • Databases part 1:  Track faculty international activity/expertise.  Asking faculty to provide information about international work allows institutions to identify countries of interest to target for additional attention, and to find experts on particular areas. Making such a database easily accessible to faculty and administrators allows for networking and coordination of projects.  One way to collect such information is to include a question about international activities on faculty annual activity reports; this ensures that information is collected automatically each year and can be kept up-to-date.

Databases for Tracking Faculty International Activity/Expertise

University of Cincinnati
North Carolina State University
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Duke University

  • Databases part 2: Track institutional partnerships.  Maintaining a searchable database of information about current partnerships allows faculty who are interested in working in a particular geographic region to avoid "reinventing the wheel" by capitalizing on existing relationships rather than starting from scratch.  Existing partnerships are reinforced and deepened when new faculty get involved.   Again, it is important for such databases to be open to the campus community, kept up-to-date, and searchable on a variety of variables (country, type of partnership, disciplines involved, etc.).  

Databases for Tracking Institutional Partnerships

North Carolina State
University of Minnesota
University of Delaware
University of Cincinnati
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
North Carolina State University
Indiana University

The George Washington University maintains a single central database that tracks all international activity – both institution-level collaboration, and individual faculty activities – which is available to students and faculty online. At the request of the President, the Provost assigned a network of associate deans to regularly supply information on all international activity to the administrator who maintains and manages the database.   Integrating oversight of the database into the formal job description of a single individual creates accountability, and ensures that information is as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

  • Establish clear policies for signing MOU's.  As institutions expand their international reach and encourage faculty to make connections abroad, some encounter a "free agent" problem of faculty members signing memoranda of understanding (MOU's) and other agreements with partners abroad, without the knowledge or approval of the provost or other administrators.  At the least, this situation hinders an institution's ability to be strategic in its international engagement; at worst, it can damage the institution's brand and create liability problems.

    By providing clear procedures and a well-defined process for establishing formal partnerships and signing MOU's, institutions can empower faculty to make connections that further the institution's internationalization and global engagement goals, as well as the individual faculty members' own interests and international activity.  Providing MOU templates facilitates the process and ensures consistency.

MOU Policies, Procedures, and Templates

California State University
Georgetown University 
Grand Valley State University
University of Minnesota
Michigan State University
Princeton University
University of California Riverside
University of Nebraska-Lincoln: Faculty Exchange

ACE's 2008 publication, International Partnerships: Guidelines for Colleges and Universities describes the fundamentals of planning, developing, and implementing international partnerships, and includes templates for MOU's and procedures. 

  • Create programs and policies to engage more faculty in existing relationships abroad.  Institutions with existing partnerships abroad can deepen those connections by purposefully exposing more faculty to the partner institution, publicizing those relationships broadly, and encouraging additional new linkages.  Even when such encounters are relatively short, they may set the stage for deeper engagement down the road, or may motivate faculty to engage abroad in other ways.

Grand Valley State University's "partnership delegations" are comprised of both faculty and staff who visit existing partner institutions to engage in cultural and professional activities, and spend time with their career counterparts.  One delegation travels each year, and the partner institution for the visit is selected strategically based on GVSU's geographic priorities and relationship priorities.

Wayne State University's Office of International Programs works to inform faculty of the resources available to support their travel abroad, and encourages faculty to share their travels plans with the Office prior to departure.  When a faculty member is visiting an area in which the institution has a partnership or is interested in establishing one, she or he may be asked to extend the trip in order to meet with key contacts. 

At Montclair State University, faculty whose proposed projects involve working with existing strategic institutional partners abroad are given preference in the selection process for institution-sponsored travel grants.

  • Involve the admissions office.  As admissions offices develop their international recruitment plans, they can tap faculty expertise and connections in countries of strategic importance.  In some cases, faculty going abroad may have opportunities to promote the institution to prospective students – both degree-seeking and those who are candidates for study abroad.
  • Create cross-disciplinary networking opportunities.  Events such as panel discussions and lunch-time presentations that bring together faculty who might not otherwise meet or collaborate can help spur broader relationships with key institutions and partners abroad.   For example, faculty who have done research in a particular country might share their experiences with each other and publicly with the broader campus community, highlighting strategic geographic areas for the institution, and potentially drawing additional faculty into new and on-going projects.



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