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How to Create an International Strategy Champion

As institutions increasingly operate in a global environment, leaders find themselves entering into a proliferation of agreements with other colleges and universities across the world. International collaborations cut across the entire portfolio of an institution, including research, student recruitment, study abroad, academic programing, and transnational education. While these international engagements can bring many benefits, their logistical complexity and reputational prominence also create significant risks.

To maximize benefits and minimize risks, universities should create an international strategy champion. Empowering a single role to oversee international strategy and global engagements helps ensure institutional stakeholders collaborate effectively while preventing partnerships from stagnating or become unsustainable. While this champion role will look different on every campus, there are four key responsibilities it should always possess:

Asset manager

  • Identify, record, and track all partnerships
  • Understand academic strengths and institutional reputation
  • Collect and monitor partnership data


  • Share results of successful partnerships
  • Translate international imperatives for various stakeholders
  • Understand, shape, and enhance image and reputation abroad


  • Make connections between faculty working on similar projects
  • Create opportunities for program leaders at different universities to interact with one another
  • Bring institution-level international leaders together to set and execute strategy


  • Explain foreign interference, legal, and ethical risks
  • Inform stakeholders of benefits of potential partnerships and regions
  • Provide data about prospective partners

Having analyzed the organizational structures and job descriptions of international strategy champions at universities around the world, EAB has identified three main models for empowering an international strategy champion. Each of these models has unique strengths and limitations, as outlined in the full PDF.

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