Eyeing ‘global’ future, officials launch search for new study abroad director

Media Credit: Lillian Bautista | Hatchet Photographer

Last month, officials began seeking candidates to fill the position, which has been vacant since former director Rob Hallworth left for a new opportunity in January 2017.

Updated: Jan. 18, 2018 at 4:45 p.m.

About one year after the departure of the University’s study abroad director, a search for a replacement is underway.

Last month, officials began seeking candidates to fill the position, which has been vacant since the former director Rob Hallworth left for a new job opportunity in January 2017. A University spokeswoman said the search, which The Wyly & Kellogg International Strategic Consulting Group will help conduct, is part of the University’s commitment to grow its programs and reputation around the world.

The selection process for a new director will begin Feb. 1, but applications will be accepted until the end of next month, according to GW’s job posting.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said officials decided to delay the search for a new director to review the operations of the study abroad office. She said a committee led by Donna Scarboro, the associate provost for international programs, and consisting of faculty, staff and administrators will conduct the search.

The new director will join the 16 current study abroad staff members and will report to Scarboro.

“The search posting demonstrates University’s commitment to international education and outlines the qualities sought in a new director,” Csellar said in an email. “The committee has received interest from a diverse set of candidates, including those from other colleges/universities, non-profits and internationally-focused organizations.”

She declined to say when the University expects to fill the position, but said the search will continue until the committee finds “the right fit.”

Study abroad directors at other universities said it’s necessary to have an office director to lead supporting program managers and staff.

Nigel Cossar, the director of study abroad at the University of Pennsylvania, said GW will likely seek someone with experience fundraising and managing a budget – two items crucial to most study abroad offices. While a vacant director position isn’t “an absolutely critical absence,” he said officials should try to fill the role as quickly as possible to provide leadership for the future goals of the program.

“I imagine institutions would want to try and source a director as soon as possible, just to have that level of leadership as you start to look ahead to the future of study abroad programs on a campus,” Cossar said.

Tynelle Stewart, the acting director of study abroad at the University of Rochester, said study abroad directors need managerial experience, knowledge of international relations and strong leadership. The role of a director requires collaboration with faculty, staff and administrators to assess what programs students want, she said.

“You do need that voice that’s going to help strategically think about where you currently are at, where you want to be and what are those steps in between that you need to take to get there,” Stewart said.

She said that without the leadership of a director, a study abroad department can’t establish its direction or achieve its goals. A new director will also need a network of people supporting their efforts, she added.

“It also goes beyond the director and it goes to your higher, higher administrators to your provost and your president, and how supportive they are,” Stewart said.

The search for a new study abroad director launched just months after University President Thomas LeBlanc began his tenure at GW. LeBlanc has stressed GW’s global mission during the early part of his presidency, vowing to send GW students to study “anywhere” during his inaugural address in November.

The job description detailed the University’s requirement for an “inspiring” leader to fill the role and provide programs that allow students to be more deeply immersed into the cultures of study abroad locations.

Nearly half of undergraduate students participate in a study abroad program during their time on campus, according to the job posting.

Devika Milner, the director of study abroad at the University of Miami who worked for LeBlanc when he served as executive vice president and provost at the university, said he was passionate about study abroad at the University of Miami because of LeBlanc’s “life-changing experience” while studying abroad in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in high school.

In January 1972, while in high school, LeBlanc was selected by the American Field Service for a free, year-long study abroad program, according to a profile in GW Magazine.

“The good news for you guys is that your president is a big, big, big supporter and proponent of study abroad,” Milner said.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
Due to an editing error, the wrong pronoun was used when paraphrasing Devika Milner. We regret this error.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.