Category: Administration

Mapping the Synapses of International Office Management

Jason Baumgartner, key developer of Sunapsis and Director for International Services in the IU Office of International Services, presented the keynote address at this year's conference.

The International Office management system that came to be called Sunapsis was conceived in 2003 when the U.S. government implemented new rules that required much closer tracking of foreign students studying in the United States.  Increased tracking meant larger and more complex data management; it also meant that a minor failure of reporting could seriously compromise a student’s right to study in the U.S.  To complicate matters, the data that needed to be managed resided in two separate places—one in Homeland Security computers and one in university computers. 

            The earliest version of the software that became Sunapsis provided an innovative link—a synapse—between these two massive sources of data.  Developed by the IU Office of International Services, that office quickly realized that far more than immigration status could be effectively managed with the software tools that were becoming part of Sunapsis.  Orientation and data collection could begin as soon as students were admitted.  Student advising could be more focused and functional in a system that remembered advising sessions as well as important personal data.  International admissions, with its own deadline and tracking needs, could also be served by these tools—and in turn serve to collect vital information for active-student tracking later on. 

            Sunapsis thus became much more than a solution to Homeland Security regulations.   In addition to serving the technical reporting requirements of international visitors better, Sunapsis provided ways to assure that their needs didn’t fall between the cracks and to enhance their experience in the U.S. by reducing the time to sort out red tape and expanding communication and so allow students and scholars to be more fully a part of campus life.

            The unique features of Sunapsis attracted the interest of other institutions and IU found itself heavily lobbied to make the product available to others.  Since 2007, the number of institutions using the software system has grown from one (IU) to 23, representing major universities all over the United States. Once a year, Sunapsis users get together to compare notes and hear about new features. 

 

Jason Baumgartner, left, is chief architect of the international office management system.

           This week, the Frangipani Room has standing room only crowd, more than a hundred participants from 40 institutions, each participant with laptop in hand, to hear about checklists, encryption, e-forms, and user management.  These new tools assure that documents don’t get stuck in someone’s inbox, that collecting information from students and scholars can be handled electronically and managed without expert intervention, and that messages can be programmed to be sent automatically when needed or desired. 

            The group will also be introduced to a new module that expands the system’s service to students studying abroad.  The module manages students throughout the study abroad cycle, from program search, through application processing and dossier review, to completion and standardized reports.  Photos: Rendy Schrader

 

Vice President for International Affairs addresses the Sunapsis Conference 2012.

 

Cultures Ancient and Modern, Connections Old and New

SE Asia Debriefing

               Four countries, 13 days, 9 campuses, multiple meetings with government officials, hundreds of IU alumni.   “It was work,” David Zaret said at a briefing on the trip in the Grand Foyer of the IU Auditorium.  Zaret, vice president for international affairs, and President Michael McRobbie led an IU delegation to Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia in May.

             “We went to Southeast Asia for the same reason we have visited other regions of the world—to advance strategic priorities of the IU international plan,” Zaret explained.  “We would like to have more agreements with top quality universities across the world, agreements that provide opportunities for faculty and students to go back and forth.  We want to expand opportunities for undergraduates to engage in study abroad experiences. Finally, we were looking for ways to help our Indiana alumni reconnect to the university.”

             When they returned, they had recognized an “odd discrepancy,” Zaret said.  “Among American universities, we have some of the oldest ties to universities in Southeast Asia.  We have 10,000 IU alums in the four countries we visited, possibly more than any other US institution. Yet, though we have many active programs in area studies, Southeast Asia is perhaps the one region of the world where we do very little.  The president and I agree that it really ought to be an institutional priority to develop a thriving program in Southeast Asian Studies.” 

The campuses visited:
National Institute for Development Assistance, Bangkok
Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok
Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
National University Singapore
Yale-National University of Singapore
Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta
Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta
University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur
Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam
 

All the alumni receptions attracted a rambunctious crowd. I was overwhelmed by number and enthusiasm and affection they feel for Indiana University.--David Zaret

Sideli Elected to CIEE Board

Kathleen Sideli with committee chairs at the CIEE Conference 2010

For more than 60 years, the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) has been at the center of high school and collegiate international exchange, with study abroad programs for undergraduates, teaching abroad for faculty, seminars, and work and internship opportunities.  CIEE announced in June that Kathleen Sideli, IU Associate Vice President for Overseas Study, has been elected to the CIEE Board of Directors.  The appointment will mean not only that IU will have access to the latest developments in international exchange, it will also have an impact on future directions of global education.

“Having direct access to CIEE decision making will help IU,” explains Sideli.  “We currently send 200 students a year on CIEE programs all over the world.  We have a vested interest in ensuring that the programs are affordable and of high academic quality and that they will provide a safe and secure environment for our students.”

Sideli will be one of only two study abroad professionals on the board.  She brings 30 years of study abroad administrative experience as well as nationally recognized expertise in policymaking and data collection and analysis.  “CIEE has had many upper-level staff leadership changes, and I hope to be able to assist the board as they ponder new directions in the coming years.”

Charity, Trust, and Cultural Traditions

 

Abbie Jung speaks from Vienam about her experience with NGOs in Souteast Asia. Listening are Bloomington (upper left) and panelists and an overflow audience in the IUPUI Global Crossroads classroom (lower right).

 

          The Red Cross Society of China is one of that country’s oldest and largest charities; yet in a recent survey in China, 82% responded that they would not contribute to it.  In Communist or former Communist countries of Southeast Asia, the government looks suspiciously on nonprofit philanthropic organizations, suspecting that their very existence is a tacit criticism of the government’s failure to provide an important service, and so regulates nonprofits heavily.  As a consequence, some nonprofits prefer to register as for-profit companies, and face the tax implications instead.

             This year, the Center on Philanthropy celebrates a quarter century on the IUPUI campus.  The store of knowledge and expertise it has accumulated in that time has drawn international attention.  The center’s reports on the impact of new laws and regulations on philanthropic giving are watched closely and reported widely in the press.  But the laws of philanthropy are not quite the same as the laws of physics.  Habits of giving and expectation of the results of giving operate differently in China than they do in the U.S.

             The China Philanthropy Leadership Initiative, a group of IUPUI students interested in Chinese philanthropy, gave those differences center stage in a symposium at the Global Crossroads classroom of the IUPUI Office of International Affairs.  The event included participants from campus and from the Indianapolis community; the truly “wired” venue allowed Bloomington to participate and brought in a speaker currently working in Vietnam.   

             Leslie Lenkowsky, SPEA and Center on Philanthropy professor and one of a handful of top international philanthropy experts in the nation, opened the session with a challenge to the notion that the laws of philanthropy vary around the world.  He outlined five problems that all nonprofits must address—from the need to define their mission and expectations, to the difficulty of measuring outcomes and determining impact, to the lack of incentives to perform effectively. 

             Melynne Klaus, director of the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, outlined the work of that organization to make a positive impact on the arts scene in Central Indiana.  They have worked to simplify the application process (and reduce the grant application time that organizations must devote) by standardizing the application form with similar organizations in the city, and to establish rules of transparency and clarity of mission.  They ask organizations that apply for funding to establish their own measurable goals as part of the application process, and then the organization is evaluated for how well it meets its own goals.  Anthony Lorenz, CFO for WFYI, the nation’s 19th largest public broadcasting corporation,  provided a financial context for establishing transparency.  It tracks community needs through patterns of annual giving.

             Abbie Jung, based in Hong Kong and San Franciso, happened to be in Vietnam when she spoke to the group about her experiences with nonprofits in China and Southeast Asia.  Philanthropy is a long-standing tradition in Asia and giving is generous.  She noted differences from Western trends. Private giving is still more common than strategic support of civil entities and NGO’s.  Family interests and education are the traditional objects.   Patterns of  government regulation and enforcement are still evolving. 

            The IUPUI symposium was the signature event of semester-long program exploring philanthropy and its global implications.  The initiative was completely student driven and was developed both to expand cultural understanding of the workings and issues of philanthropic organizations and to train young professionals through resources that go beyond the campus.

It Takes a Village

Jason Baumgartner and the future of immigration management software

 

It was not quite a decade ago that Jason Baumgartner proposed a renegade solution to managing the immigration and visa issues of international students and scholars.  No major software developer was attempting to capture information made available through the federal government’s data systems to institutions with international students and then weave that data together with institutional data to produce something that would spare advisors both the constant need for cross-checking and the worry that an inadvertent slip could result in a student’s being sent home.  The thought was too radical.  It couldn’t be done.  No institution the size of Indiana University should build its safety nets from homespun threads.  Too much was at stake.

Christopher Viers, the director of international services at that time and now the associate vice president for international services, went to bat to make Baumgartner’s system the foundation of the immigration services that IU provides to international students and scholars.  Formerly an advisor himself, Viers saw the potential and efficiency of this new approach. “I knew at the time it was either going to be the best or the worst decision I ever made.”  If only Baumgartner could make it work.

Make it work, he did, and the Office of International Services has relied on it for several years now.  Viers relates that “no one thought when the decision was made that other institutions might benefit from such a solution,” but Ron Cushing of the University of Cincinnati saw its potential when it was demonstrated at a regional conference.  He kept after his colleagues at IU to share the product, and his office became the first outside client of the product, now dubbed Sunapsis.  “I was sure at the time that it was the best solution around, and I have never regretted adopting it,” Cushing said.

Now, 23 institutions use Sunapsis, which has become a complete advising management tool and has extended its reach to study abroad and international admissions.  As more and more institutions signed on, it became apparent that their collective experience was exactly what was needed to grow and expand.  Representatives gathered in Bloomington this week for the first annual Sunapsis User’s Conference. They shared their separate experiences, learned new techniques, and listened to Baumgartner explain some of what the future holds for the software system.  It is a future which that group was helping to define, Baumgartner said  at the beginning of his keynote address, for the conference  was “building a community so that we can all resource together.”

For more information see the press release and the Sunapsis website.

Zaret Becomes Vice President for International Affairs

David Zaret and Patrick O'Meara
David Zaret (left) and Patrick O’Meara (right), current and past vice presidents for interational affairs
           On July 1, 2011, David Zaret became Indiana University vice president for international affairs. Zaret comes to OVPIA from the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences, where he served for over a decade as Executive Associate Dean and Interim Dean, and also from the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President, where he worked as Senior Advisor to the Provost. He completed his doctorate from Oxford University in 1977 and joined the IU Bloomington Department of Sociology the same year.  He currently holds academic appointments in the Department of Sociology and the Department of History. His published work includes Origins of Democratic Culture (Princeton University Press, 2000), which explores the role of public opinion in British politics. Topics in Zaret’s other publications include religion and social change, human rights, and methodological issues in cross-cultural research.
             Patrick O’Meara, who led international affairs for eighteen years, will now chair the IU Center for International Education and Development Assistance and will advise the president on matters of international protocol.  O’Meara’s tenure as vice president saw the Bloomington campus rise to the top twenty institutions nationally for study abroad and for the number of international students enrolled.  Continuing the work begun by Herman Wells in the 1940s, he has helped secure affiliations with top universities and has been part of IU’s international development activities in countries around the world.  He has assured IU’s place at the vanguard of international academic endeavor.
            “I am honored that President McRobbie has asked me to undertake this work,” said vice President Zaret.  “I am humbled by the thought of succeeding Vice President O’Meara in a program respected around the world. I want to assure that this reputation continues and that IU students and faculty are prepared to meet the challenges of a world where interdependence is key.  To do this will require efforts on many fronts:  We must develop more opportunities for undergraduates to study abroad, and along with those opportunities, more resources to defray the additional expenses of international study.  We will continue our efforts to attract top international students, and we will continue to seek and enhance agreements with the best universities around the world. Our overseas alumni are a valuable resource in these efforts, and I look forward to cultivating deeper ties with them.  Our long history of institutional development has already made a difference to universities in Africa, Latin America, Europe, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia; this work too must continue.”