Category: Students

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.


Guitar Virtuosos at Lunchtime Concert

Rodrigo Almeida and Daniel Duarte perform a waltz of Ernesto Nazareth

            “Yesterday was hot; today is cold.  That’s bad for the guitars,” said Rodrigo Almeida, as he and Daniel Duarte struggled with keeping their instruments in tune.  If there were tuning problems, no one in the audience could tell as the guitar duo performed  a brief concert of pieces from the Baroque (Soler) to the contemporary (IU grad Jon Godfrey), from a delicate transcription (by Duarte) of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” to the rhythms and dances of Brazil in music by Nazareth, Pixinguinha, and Pereira.  The concert continues a decade-old tradition of intimate, Friday lunchtime concerts sponsored by the Office of International Services, now in the Willkie Formal Lounge.

            Almeida and Duarte established their Villa Guitar Duo in 2004.  They have won competitions in Europe, the U.S., and Latin America and completed their first US tour in 2009.  They have done many of their own transcriptions, and hearing their version of Debussy on guitar makes one wonder if perhaps the French composer had been composing for the wrong instrument.  Their most recent CD renders Scarlatti, Bach, Albeniz, Villa-Lobos, and Boccherini with the same conviction, and offers challenging examples of Spanish and Latin American music written for guitar.  Both currently reside in Bloomington and are associate instructors for the Jacobs School, working under Ernesto Bitetti.

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.

Economic Interconnection


SKKU-IU Undergraduate Economic Research Conference--Impact of Exchange Rates on Exports


Some experts say that Korean students are among the most academically competitive in the world.   Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) is Korea’s oldest university with roots in Seoul going back to 1398.  IU students had a chance to share the scholarship of their Korean colleagues recently when 24 SKKU undergraduate students came to Bloomington to participate in a conference on economic research. 

The presentations by students from the SKKU Department of Global Economics (where courses are taught in English) were highly technical—including titles like “Loss Aversion and Fiscal Policy,” and “Analysis about the Effect of Exchange Rate Volatility on Exports” –and highly professional, with reviews of research and methodology.   Their conclusions suggested how interconnected the world economy is:  Fluctuations in exchange rates (the Korean won is the most volatile currency in the world) produce fluctuations in production so that potential loss from one is cancelled by gain in the other.  The U.S. response to its economic crisis of 2008 has indirectly benefitted Korea by making the results of Korean research and development of increased interest in the U.S. IU graduate students and faculty members prepared formal responses to the presentations, and a sizeable audience of advanced IU undergraduates questioned speakers and respondents. 

Dr. Young Se Kim, SKKU chair of the Department of Global Economics, explained that the students had been working in groups for two months to research and to prepare their presentations.  When they return, they will turn the presentations into formal papers. 

The day was packed with nine research sessions and a luncheon presentation by Gerhard Glomm, professor of economics.  Korean students joined American students at a dinner at the Global Living-Learning Center.   “The dinner was a real success,” Kirstine Lindemann, conference organizer, said.  “I have multiple requests for email addresses; students want to keep in touch.”

The College of Arts and Sciences hosted the conference and arranged for the Korean students to spend a day in Chicago where they toured the Federal Reserve and the Mercantile Exchange.

IU President Michael McRobbie visited the SKKU campus in 2008 to sign a university-wide presidential agreement of cooperation.  Currently, SKKU has formal agreements with the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Informatics and Computing, the Kelley School of Business, and the Maurer School of Law. 

This conference, one product of this institutional cooperation, provided the opportunity for undergraduates at both institutions to engage in a kind of discourse usually available only to professionals in the field.   Lindemann travelled to Seoul last fall to interview SKKU students  interested in coming to Bloomington.    Another result of the agreement will come in March, when seven IU graduate students will travel to the SKKU campus in Seoul for a conference on graduate and professional education.

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.

Surabaya to CNN: Alumnus Eli Flournoy Remembers IU

Seated in the Indiana Memorial Union Gallery, Eli Flournoy talked about IU and his international career.

Eli Flournoy was on the ground for CNN during major crises in Angola, in the Middle East, and in India, Pakistan, and Hong Kong.  As part of CNN’s international news “desk” in Atlanta, he has directed coverage of the Bosnian war, the Kosovo War, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Princess Diana’s death, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  He was part of teams that received major awards for coverage of the Southeast Asia tsunami, the 2006 conflict between Israel and Lebanon, Hurricane Katrina, and the 1999 Indonesian elections. 

He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and African studies from IU in 1991.

 Asked if his experience at IU had turned him into an internationalist, he replied instantly, “That happened long before I came to IU.  My parents took my sister and me for a year-long stay in Surabaya when I was nine.”  After that experience in Indonesia’s second-largest city, the family entertained international visitors frequently at their home in Athens, Ohio. The international perspective was inescapable.  “I came to IU with a specific goal.  I would major in political science with an emphasis on international issues, go on to graduate work, and then take the Foreign Service exam with the goal of working in an embassy overseas.” 

 While IU may not have created the internationalist, it did have an impact on the direction of Flournoy’s career.  “IU is outstanding in the opportunities it makes available to its undergraduates.  I was president of the Residence Halls Association, and in that job I was allowed to take on mature and real responsibilities for such things as the management of a million dollar budget and responding to significant personnel issues.”  Flournoy had developed a strong interest in Africa.  ” With its undergraduate certificate in African Studies, IU was one of the few places that gave undergraduates major opportunities to study Africa.”

Flournoy found that not only could he study Africa, but even as an undergraduate, he could get involved in teaching about Africa.  Patrick O’Meara was director of African studies at the time.  “Dr. O’Meara gave me, an undergraduate, a chance to do a teaching assistantship.”  He became teaching assistant to Charles Bird in a course in African Studies with a special emphasis on South Africa.  “I learned a lot from Professor Bird.  He was always determined to experience not just to study.  He made his own wine and beer. He would have African drumming sessions at his house.” 

The shift in his career came in a summer internship after his junior year.  With a grant from IU, he worked at the CNN Atlanta headquarters that summer while investigating why news organizations didn’t get more information out of Africa.  During the fall semester of his senior year, CNN contacted him with an offer of another internship for the spring.  With the help of Dr. O’Meara, who agreed to oversee a major independent study project, Flournoy spent the spring at CNN.  He joined the team that produced CNN World Report, a  CNN venture to encourage international coverage by broadcasting and sharing news briefs, uncut and unedited, prepared by other news organizations around the world.  He was there during the Gulf War, and for the equivalent of a senior thesis, he investigated the media propaganda of the war, comparing the media strategies of Saddam Hussein and George Bush. 

The CNN internships jump-started a career that celebrated its 20th anniversary last August.  Flournoy comes back to IU periodically.  His visit this time was part of the “Making War, Making Peace” Themester of the College of Arts and Sciences.  He was much in demand as an expert visitor to telecomm courses.  In a presentation sponsored by the Union Board, he fielded passionate questions from students about the role of the media in today’s world.

DanceJerusalem, by Leah Boresow

 Leah Boresow spent last spring studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in a new program that combines intensive training in dance with study of the Hebrew language and Jewish Culture.  Here is the report she prepared for the first issue of DanceJerusalem Journal.  We thank that journal for giving us permission to reproduce the article here.

Leah Boresow is the first dancer on the left. Photo credit: Melissa Strain


I started studying dance when I was about 3 years old. I knew that I wanted to be
a dance major towards the end of my high school career. I am receiving a B.S in
Dance through Indiana University’s Department of Kinesiology, a Hebrew Minor, a
certificate in Arts Administration, and a minor in Non-Profit Management. I
chose DanceJerusalem for a few reasons; first, I had already traveled to Israel
in the summer of 2009, and really loved my experience there. I couldn’t wait to
go back. Second, there are very few study abroad opportunities for university
level dancing today. So, when I heard that I could have the opportunity to go
to Israel and dance while still receiving college credit, it was like a match
made in heaven.

Adapting to life in Jerusalem was definitely an interesting experience. I learned very
quickly that I was going to have to be very self-sufficient, knowing that the
“system” of the city was a very busy and crowded one. Eventually, I got the
hang of things, with the support from my fellow DanceJerusalem participants. My
pursuit of studying the Hebrew language has helped me immensely to adapt to my
life in Israel. Even though I have early mornings with Hebrew that start at
8:30a.m., I really enjoy learning the language of the land that I am living in.
Not only do I learn the Hebrew language, but in doing so I have also learned so
much about the history and culture of Israel. Not to mention that it has been
great to speak to Israelis and interact better with my surroundings. In the
beginning of the semester, we took a group trip to the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi
area of Israel, and it was so much fun. It helped me to further realize what
natural treasures Israel has. We have also taken trips to historical areas in the
North of Israel, such as Tzfat. It has been so wonderful to travel to different
parts of the country.

One of my favorite courses at the Academy is my Ballet Repertoire class that meets
once a week. I come from a very strong ballet background, and it has been such
a joy to be able to learn many famous ballet variations and perform them in
class. I can say that because of my dancing experience in the Academy, I have
even further expanded my perspective on global dance. I believe now more than
ever that dancers should be aware that the world of dance is so much bigger
than one dance company, or one region of known dance studios. It is a gift to
be able to be exposed to dance traditions and techniques of all kinds.
Participating in DanceJerusalem is a great opportunity to experience a
different life and culture, and to learn more about yourself. I have grown in
many ways. First, I have grown to be even more self-sufficient and independent
than I was before, because I had to figure out so much on my own, and I have
grown as a person because of it. I have also become more confident and sure of
myself. I know now more than ever who I am and what I want, both as a dancer
and as a regular person.

1,712 New International Students So Far

 Another new record.  This year 1,712 new international students have checked in at the Office of International Services orientation, a 5% increase over last year.  Monsoons in China are causing inevitable delays for many students, so these numbers may swell.  Already, academic advising sessions have been scheduled practically up to the first day of classes. 

 The tents at the alumni center overflowed at the traditional ice cream social.  New international students were eager to network, to visit the food tent, and to meet officials from the university and the City of Bloomington. 

“It’s a polite group this year,” says Rendy Schrader, director of advising.  “They listen and pay attention; they will do well.” 


J. T. Forbes, executive director of the IU Alumni Association, spoke of connecting students with their alumni peers.


Beverly Calender-Anderson, Safe and Civil Director for the City of Bloomington encouraged students to get beyond the campus and noted opportunities they would have in the community.


Advising never stops. Outside the tent, Rendy Schrader, OIS director of advising, talks with a new student.

Chris Viers, associate vice president for internaitonal affairs, told students to make five new friends each. He warned them that he would be checking how well they did.

David Zaret, vice president for international affairs, welcomed students and spoke of all the ways IU was international. Afterwards, he took the opportunity to speak with many of the students in small groups.