UAlbany’s Annual IEL Institute Draws Global Experts to Discuss the Impact of COVID-19

UAlbany’s Annual IEL Institute Draws Global Experts to Discuss the Impact of COVID-19

hand touching clear globe

Albany, NY (August 31, 2020) – More than 100 participants from 60 colleges and universities in 6 countries engaged in a month-long virtual learning experience that featured expert scholars and practitioners and several interactive learning activities. The Institute, which wrapped up on August 12, focused on International Educators as Leaders of Institutional Transformation in a Post-Pandemic World.

The Institute is designed and delivered by the International Education faculty and fellows in the University’s recently created International Education program. According to the School of Education’s Dean, Jason Lane, who is also a scholar of international education, “International Education is a dynamic and growing sector and our goal is to provide current and future leaders with the tools they need to be successful.”

Professor Mitch Leventhal, a former senior international officer and founding director of the International Education and Management Program said, “We have spent the last five years creating a professional ecosystem around training international education leaders. With the Institute, numerous micro-credentialed courses, a graduate certificate and a master’s degree in International Education, the University at Albany offers the most complete range of options for emerging professionals in the leadership and practice of international education, particularly for those looking to lead in the new environment.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was decided to run the program online, as a virtual institute, in order to increase its reach to those who are in other time zones or who are place bound. The Institute was spread over four weeks in July and August.  Institute participants attended three synchronous Zoom plenary sessions, engaged in asynchronous Blackboard discussion around key issues, and had options to participate in an online Strategic Visualization Laboratory and a Crisis Leadership Simulation.

Dennis Cuadros is a bilingual high school math teacher and school leader who was an IEL Summer Institute participant.  When COVID-19 shut down his school, Cuadros decided to use his extra time at home as an opportunity to extend his own learning – and his professional options – by studying international education at UAlbany. 

“The IEL Institute is exactly what I needed to get moving in the right direction,” said Cuadros. “Top leaders from around the world presented and collaborated on many topics and relevant issues concerning the field of International Education. We discussed solutions for the current crisis as well as strategies for excelling in a post-pandemic world. Everyone was open to networking and continuing the efforts and dialogues beyond the one-month of virtual plenaries and message boards. For someone like me that is looking for ways to enter the field and get involved in the crucial discussions it was an extremely insightful and rewarding experience.”

Mike Brzezinski, Dean of International Programs at Purdue University, is an advanced career professional who saw the Institute as a timely offering for all international educators and reflected on the “very practical, thought-provoking experience.”

“Participants were challenged to rethink and reimagine their work during this time of unprecedented challenges,” said Brzezinski.  “The timing of the Institute paralleled the emergence of my vision for how Purdue could use virtual intercultural learning experiences to complement study abroad endeavors.  Plenary sessions provided me with insights for my vision and the IEL discussion groups helped me to operationalize and articulate my campus plan.  Furthermore, the opportunity to present my plan helped me to reflect on how to cast, to explain and to implement a new vision.”

Speakers at the Institute included Harvey Charles (Professor of International Education, University at Albany), Stephanie Doscher (Director, Global Learning for Global Citizenship, Florida International University), Karin Fischer (Senior Reporter, The Chronicle of Higher Education, International Ed Leadership Fellow, University at Albany), Clay Hensley (Senior Director, International Strategy and Outreach, College Board), Jason Lane (Dean, School of Education, University at Albany), Mitch Leventhal (Professor of Professional Practice & Entrepreneurship, Department of Educational Policy & Leadership, University at Albany), Josh McKeown (Associate Provost for International Education and Programs, SUNY Oswego, International Ed Leadership Fellow, University at Albany), Jon Rubin (Director, COIL Consulting), Brian Whalen (International Ed Leadership Fellow, University at Albany), and Gary Rhodes, Professor & Director, Center for Global Education, College of Education, California State University at Dominguez Hills.

To learn more about the International Education Leadership and Management Program go to