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Patti McGill Peterson, American Council on Education

The American Council on Education represents the presidents of over 1,800 US institutions. Patti McGill Peterson, ACE’s Presidential Advisor for Global Initiatives, tells us about the association’s advocacy to promote leadership in internationalisation of HE, as it becomes a higher priority in the US.

The PIE: Tell me about the focus of ACE and CIGE.

PP

"Even though ACE is called the American Council on Education we very much realise that that means being committed to higher education in the rest of the world"

PMP: The Center for International and Global Engagement was formed about a year and three quarters ago. We have a two-pronged mission. One is to provide analysis, information, research, guidance and services to our member institutions on various aspects of internationalisation. And then there’s the larger focus of ACE as the convener of US institutions vis-a-vis the rest of the world.

Even though ACE is called the American Council on Education we very much realise that that means being committed to higher education in the rest of the world.

The PIE: CIGE’s priorities are based on recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Report [on global engagement]. What developments have occurred since those founding days?

PMP: One development is with Boston College’s Center for Higher Education, where we’ve developed a brief and webinar series called International Briefs for Higher Education Leaders that’s either country-focused or issue-focused as it relates to US higher education’s engagement with the rest of the world.

We also have a strategic partnership with the Association of International Education Advisors where we do the deep dive for a day at their annual general meeting on a specific issue as opposed to people moving around to different topics every hour. With AIEA, we also started the Institute for Leading Internationalisation (IEL) to help develop leadership within our institutions for global engagement.

“We now see internationalisation is one of the top five priorities in institutions”

The PIE: Why is now the time to launch an initiative to support leadership in internationalisation?

PMP: This is an area where we’re just beginning to see people designated as senior members of the president’s team. Usually these have been scattered operations – a study abroad office here, an international recruitment function there. If you looked at our mapping survey, we now see internationalisation is one of the top five priorities in institutions. Presidents are beginning to see that they need a member of their senior team who effectively brings these things together and sees the synergy between them.

The PIE: What  is included in the IEL programme?

PMP: We can see professional development happening in various organisations but we’re trying to lift it yet another notch by saying this cadre of administrator is going to be joining the president’s team by virtue of how important international education is in all of our institutions.

They need another dimension of what we call “managing up”- how do you effectively bring the international dimension to the institution strategy, to the use of its sources, the allocation of resources and to the advice you give to the president. If you begin to see the position as critical to the institution’s aims and success then it’s a very different scenario you develop for helping those people be really effective in their roles.

“We can see professional development happening in various organisations but we’re trying to lift it yet another notch”

The PIE: What are the biggest challenges US institutions face in internationalising?

PMP: Coordination of disparate efforts within the institution but also seeing the need for coordination and the need to bring leadership to it in association with the president’s goals. Many presidents are committed to this and understand that their institutions will not be vital in this part of the 21st century if they don’t think about how they position themselves internationally. [more>]

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