Administrative Leadership Structure and Staffing Subcommittee

The administrative leadership structure and staffing in support of international education at the university represents critical dimensions of KU’s internationalization capacities. KU’s strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities in this area at the institutional level have never been fully examined. This component of the self-study reviews the activities and capacities encompassed by the International Affairs division, as well as KU’s larger internationalization context and efforts. 

Charge & Key Questions 

Charge: Assess KU’s expressed commitment to internationalization and how that compares to actual commitments and investments and make recommendations on staffing and structures for KU’s future internationalization efforts. Under this charge, five (5) areas of inquiry were articulated:  

  1. Evaluate the extent to which KU has clearly and consistently articulated goals for internationalization and builds those goals into its identity, communications, and outreach.  

  1. Identify and examine the structures supporting internationally focused academic and research programs.   

  1. Examine alignment of and support for international education staff and other staff members who work with KU International Affairs units. 

  1. Evaluate whether KU has allocated and committed the staffing, funding, and other resources to achieve international growth (broadly defined).  

  1. Identify and examine the structures in place to support international students, faculty, and staff and to integrate international and cross-cultural dimensions into KU's diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) work. 

Members and Invited Guests 

The following individuals served on the Administrative Leadership Structure and Staffing Subcommittee: 

  • Charles Bankart, Associate Vice Provost, International Affairs, Co-Chair 

  • Marta Caminero-Santangelo, Professor/Director, English/Latin American & Caribbean Studies 

  • Jeff Chasen, Assistant Vice Provost, Employee Growth, Development, Accessibility & Inclusion, Co-Chair 

  • Hume Feldman, Chair and Professor, Physics and Astronomy 

  • David Gaston, Assistant Vice Provost, Academic Success 

  • Virginia Harper Ho, Professor, School of Law, Co-Chair 

  • Angie Loving, Associate Director, Human Resource Management 

  • Richard McKinney, Associate Vice Provost, Finance 

  • Dallas Smith, Compensation Analyst, Human Resource Management 

  • Jennifer Wamelink, Associate Vice Provost, Student Affairs 


External Community Stakeholders: Interviews were conducted with leaders from the Kansas Department of Commerce, International Relations Council of Kansas City, City of Lawrence, Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, the World Trade Center of Kansas City, as well as regional educators connected to KU’s Title VI Area Studies Centers. Email correspondence was also exchanged with the Kansas Board of Regents.  

  • KU is seen as a major resource and anchor for international engagement and economic development, especially in terms of workforce development toward becoming more globally competitive and attracting international talent, as well as foreign direct investment. To that end, it was recommended that KU: preserve and strengthen the liberal arts and area studies centers, connecting these assets with all that the university does; position itself to support international trade; and support faculty engagement internationally. 

  • The Governor, Commerce and the reconstituted International Division of Commerce see international engagement and an internationally prepared and functional state workforce as essential to the state’s future and economic success. According to a respondent from the Kansas Department of Commerce, “International work shouldn’t be an oddity, it’s just part of what we do. It should be normalized as much as possible.” “The executive branch of Kansas is go, go, go on international.” 

  • Overall, external stakeholders have a very positive view of KU as a community partner and collaborator, but find the university inaccessible due to its size and complexity. KU’s perceived lack of effective international outreach communication and efforts to facilitate bi-directional engagement was a prominent theme. KU was advised to be more direct and strategic in connecting its campus community with the broader resources and opportunities that the wider Lawrence/Topeka/KC Metro have to offer, as well as with stakeholders that want to tap their expertise. 

  • All respondents encouraged KU to develop ways for community members to learn about and tap into its broad and deep international expertise. 

  • It was broadly felt that KU can and should do more to actively and consistently communicate and operationalize its identity as a globally engaged research institution. That message is hard to find in our external communications. 

Staff Surveys: A staff leadership survey was administered to determine how the university structurally supports international activity on campus and current levels of collaboration. This inventory included a review of the dedicated international services and supports that International Affairs provides to domestic and international faculty, staff and students, as well as the international education services and supports provided by units outside the division of International Affairs. Thirty-eight offices and teams participated in the survey.  

Survey Results from Collaborating Offices Outside International Affairs 

  • Departments that have the staff time and resources to reach out to International Affairs colleagues are rewarded with good collaboration, but those that do not are left thinking more could have been done. Close staff relationships with International Affairs offices result in positive support for students. Staff turnover hampers these efforts, however, because collaboration depends on personal knowledge and interpersonal connections (rather than formal structures and articulated expectations).  

  • When collaborative partnerships with KU International Affairs (KUIA) staff are lacking, the result tends to be misinformation, confusion, and interruptions in collaboration and services. 

  • While International Support Services (ISS) offers centralized support for international students, due to lack of communication and coordination many offices develop their own independent solutions for the same challenges. These inefficiencies exacerbate the challenges already associated with limited staffing. 

  • Non-KUIA staff who do not already have strong connections with KU’s international offices often do not know where to find needed support for international students. 

  • Non-KUIA staff cited language barriers as a central challenge to serving KU’s international community.   

Survey Results from International Affairs Respondents 

  • Staff expressed a desire for closer collaboration with KU units outside their division, better campus awareness of their services, and a stronger focus on international students and internationalization across campus service units.  

  • KUIA staff felt that funding and staffing shortages are detrimental to goals of stronger communication and cross-unit collaboration.   

  • In addition to international student support, KUIA offices indicated a strong interest in increasing awareness, communication, and collaboration in support of internationalization efforts with domestic students, faculty and staff.  

Dedicated International Services and Supports within KUIA  

Intensive English language instruction and tutoring; academic and professional English programming and curricula; on-line ESL curricula; English language pedagogy training; English proficiency testing for new students; comprehensive employee, scholar, and student immigration advising; programming for international students and scholars; international sponsored student agency services; non-degree international student direct enrollment services; federal immigration advocacy; academic advising and support for international students and students participating in education abroad opportunities; international student and study abroad financial aid, emergency aid and scholarship coordination; international student and international faculty recruitment; international undergraduate admissions; international credential and transfer credit evaluation; international recruitment agency management; international agreement management and support; support for graduate research abroad; U.S. passport acceptance center services, client-focused international short program development and administration; in-bound and out-bound Fulbright program advising and support; study abroad risk and emergency management, and curriculum integration of study abroad in the majors, as well as new faculty-led program development.  

Financial Support for International Education  

As part of the laboratory, a survey was administered to budget officers across the major divisions and schools of the university to assess the campus-wide financial investment in internationalization efforts for FY 2021 expenditures and estimates (budgets) for FY 2022. Such an analysis has never been done before. Sponsored research funding was not included in the analysis due to the lack of available data. A 10-year historical review of KUIA’s budget was also constructed by the Office of the Vice Provost for Finance. 

Key Results of the Financial Survey: 

  • For the Lawrence Campus, $9.4 million was invested in international education for FY 2021 and $10.5 million is estimated for FY 2022. In aggregate, over the two fiscal years, this investment can be broken down as follows: 

    • 67% by International Affairs 

    • 18% by SCH-generating Academic Units 

    • 13% by KU Libraries 

    • 2% by other Non-KUIA Administrative Units 

  • International Affairs was responsible for approximately 95% ($6.2 million) of the restricted fee (700 funds) spending in support of KU’s international education activity. The remainder of the expenses came from other academic and administrative units at KU. 

  • For allocated funds (KU Fund 099) (approximately $2.5 million), expenditures by KU Libraries accounted for 44% of the FY 2021 expenditure and a similar portion of the FY 2022 estimate. This is followed by academic units at 33% and International Affairs at 22%. The FY 2021 expenditures by other administrative units for dedicated international education activities was just over $25,000 and less than 1% of the total. 

  • Current FY 2022 budget projections for Endowment funds indicate an overall expenditure just under $1.1 million in support of international initiatives. Of the total, 59% would be spent by Academic units, 31% through International Affairs; 6% by KU Libraries; and 4% through other administrative units of the Lawrence campus.   

  • Among academic units, 3 schools account for 82% of KU Lawrence’s expenditures on international activity: College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) (37%), School of Music (31%), and School of Education (14%). 

Key Findings from the Historical Review of KUIA’s Budget and Institutional Support: 

  • The FY 2022 allocation (KU Fund 099) to International Affairs is $563,999. $1 million in state funding was removed from KUIA’s budget allocation in FY 2011. 

  • The FY 2022 total operating budget for KUIA is $9,630,543 (all sources of funding). General Use support represents 5.9% of the Operating Budget for the division. 

Communications Analysis:  

  • KU’s Mission, Vision, and Values: There is strong and supportive language emphasizing the centrality of international education in KU’s mission, vision and values statements. Our mission speaks to making discoveries that change the world, our vision refences the advancement of society, and our values emphasize the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.  

  • Institutional Priorities of Jayhawks Rising: KU’s priorities related to “healthy and vibrant communities” and “research and discovery” both explicitly mention a connection to the state and the world.  

  • KU’s Web Environment: International comes across as an inconsistent priority at best when reviewing KU websites. The new KU Homepage speaks to our “global reach”, a Jayhawk community that “extends around the globe” and a commitment to “creating a better world.” Site imagery does not necessarily reflect international diversity in our efforts, and there is, in general, poor integration of KU’s international strengths and capacities throughout office sites. As a fairly well-endowed institution in terms of international capacities, this is not actively communicated as a core strength. The new KU travel site is a strong example of an opportunity for information integration and synthesis across the units involved in travel, including international.  

  • KU News Coverage of International Activity: Between 8/1/2020 to 6/1/2021, 171 articles were produced by the KU News team public affairs officers. Of these, 25 articles (14.6%) were identified as having content related to international research collaboration. Of these 25, only 5 mentioned institutional support from KU’s international infrastructure (International Affairs, Study Abroad, Area Centers, et cetera). KU’s institutional strengths in international activity are not a part of how KU communicates its accomplishments in the international research realm.  

Fundraising Strategy for Internationalization: In discussions with KU Endowment, it was emphasized that Endowment does not set KU’s fundraising priorities, but relies upon KU leadership to set those priorities. Internationalization has not been among those priorities in recent years. Endowment also emphasized that they are limited by what has appeal to prospective donors, so alignment with KU leadership and donor interests is central to success.  

Benchmarking Analysis Regarding Institutional Supports and Structures for International Recruitment and Admissions: KU’s international recruitment efforts and undergraduate admissions functions are currently housed in International Support Services. At this time, there is no funding to support the staffing of this area of responsibility. The office also does not have an allocated recruitment budget. Big 12 and Big 10 institutions were reviewed for comparison. Findings include:  

  • Of the 24 institutions reviewed, only Oklahoma State University houses their international recruitment/admissions function within their international offices. For the others, this effort is coordinated out of administrative offices (e.g., Student Affairs, Enrollment Management, Admissions) and/or their graduate/academic schools.  

  • Budget models vary greatly across institutions, with some offices getting a general allocation and some supporting their efforts by application fee revenue. It was notable, however, that the majority of institutions reflected a more passive approach to international recruitment (not investing in travel, memberships, or agency networks). This was especially true of international graduate recruitment, which was seen as departmentally driven. KU faculty noted in a focus group discussion that more institutional support is needed for international graduate recruitment specifically.  

  • International recruitment/admissions staffing capacities in general align well with KU’s staffing levels dedicated to this set of functions at 4 FTE on average.  

Faculty Survey: A survey regarding structures for international research and collaboration support was distributed to all area studies center affiliated faculty. Because of concerns that not all faculty who engage in international research and collaboration are actually affiliated with any area studies center, an email was then sent to 93 department chairs/directors (or equivalent in schools without departments) asking for names of faculty engaged in international research/collaboration. 36 department chairs (roughly a 39% response rate) responded with names of faculty. Key findings from the 77 faculty respondents are:  

  • Faculty do not feel in significant numbers that they are sufficiently aware of seed funding opportunities at KU for international research/collaboration. 

  • Faculty are generally unsatisfied with the level of seed funding available for international research collaboration, as well as with funding support for international conference travel.  

  • Faculty who engage in international research/collaboration are inconsistently aware of MOA/MOU agreements and their possible value to international collaboration.  

  • Faculty felt in significant numbers that policies regarding international visiting scholars were difficult to navigate and/or unsupportive. A clearly laid-out website with relevant policies, links, and resources to support hosting international scholars would be beneficial.  

  • Some faculty are confused about the new travel policy (e.g., the use of Concur) and expressed concern that the policy makes international travel for research more difficult, expensive, and cumbersome.    

  • Some faculty expressed dismay about perceived efforts on the part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences to dismantle the Area Studies Centers.   

Faculty Focus Group Discussion: Following the faculty survey, respondents were invited to participate in a focus group discussion to learn more about their experiences at KU when engaging in international activity. Emergent themes included: 

  • KU has historically had, and maintains, surprising strength in international activity (Area Studies Centers, International Collaborations, et cetera) but these strengths are perceived to be devalued by upper-level administration and at risk.  

  • Units vary in terms of the degree to which international activity is recognized in promotion/tenure, but for some, it is not recognized or rewarded at all. 

  • Funding and support for international research activity and collaboration is extremely limited and needs to be increased.  

  • Communications need to be improved in order to strengthen our international activities.  

  • KU must do a better job with international graduate student recruitment and incoming support. 

Research Center Director Focus Group: Feedback on KU’s level of support for international research was also sought in a focus group discussion. Themes of concern included: 

  • There is a lack of a centralized or coordinated effort toward facilitating international research activity across units and centers. 

  • There is currently no way to generate a comprehensive report of the investments of effort and funding in support of KU’s international engagement.  

  • KU does not have information about the obstacles facing its faculty in international research and collaborative work.  

  • Faculty members need a clear roadmap of steps, policies, procedures, and first points of contact for conducting international collaborations, coordinating international scholar visits, and engaging with institutions abroad.  

  • KU needs to have discussions related to the roadblocks faced by faculty interested in conducting international research, which includes risk management and risk tolerance related to research.  

Data or Information Needed 

The Administrative Leadership Structure and Staffing subcommittee identified the following areas in which additional information would be helpful in crafting recommendations for future actions: 

  • The most-mentioned office in the general survey of administrative offices was International Support Services, but that office itself gave very limited responses to the survey. This may be worth delving into more deeply in the future.  

  • For the financial analysis, our subcommittee was unable to determine the amount of sponsored research funding coming in to support international research and collaboration. This was further pointed out in a focus group discussion with Research Center Directors, which highlighted the lack of a centralized database on federal funding efforts.  

  • Financial investment data was not reported by the Schools of Journalism and Law.  

Challenges and Opportunities Revealed  

The Administrative Leadership Structure and Staffing subcommittee identified the following challenges and opportunities in conducting the self-study:  

  • A major challenge relates to moving the conversation away from wishing we had more people or money for internationalization, and toward working effectively within our means through informed and strategic collaboration.  

  • KU’s breadth and depth of international capacities remains hidden on-line and as a result people are unaware of the resources that they could avail themselves of.  

  • KU is almost unique in the Big 12/Big 10 in having its international recruitment and admissions functions embedded within the international division. This is an opportunity to differentiate and nuance KU’s marketing efforts, enhance collaborative activity with KU Enrollment Management, and build a holistic student engagement platform that spans students’ entire KU careers. 

  • KU is missing an opportunity to celebrate and draw attention to its rich international capacities as they relate to faculty research productivity and accomplishments. Building such support into KU news articles, for example, could boost awareness of the substantial resources we have to offer, and it may also prove useful in recruiting international research talent to KU faculty ranks. This may also prove beneficial in the community outreach area in raising awareness of KU’s strengths and capacities.  

  • KU Endowment recently received data that enables us to identify alumni who came to KU from abroad. This will enable us to begin connecting more strategically with KU’s global international Jayhawk community.  

  • Of the 282 faculty listed by chairs/directors as engaged in international research and/or collaboration, 154 had no affiliation with an Area Studies Center—that is, approximately 55% of faculty identified by chairs/directors as engaged in international research activities are not currently affiliated with an Area Studies Center. This is a significant finding because these faculty might not be aware of the kinds of research support opportunities (including research/travel funding) provided by area studies centers and KU more broadly. 

  • Staffing cuts across the Area Studies Centers mean that capacity is thin, which may jeopardize the Centers’ competitiveness in the next round of Title VI funding proposals.  

  • When the self-study for the lab began, KU did not have structures in place to support the intersection between internationalization and the campus’ diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging work. In late spring, however, a new international DEIB dimension was built into the portfolio of the Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Administration within International Affairs. This position was enhanced from a .50 FTE appointment to 1.0 FTE with a 25% responsibility devoted to DEIB work. The AVP will report in to the DEIB Office Diversity Council and has established a working group comprised of representatives from each of the offices comprising International Affairs.  

  • It was notable that non-KUIA office personnel indicated that there is a language barrier when providing direct services to international students on campus. Give that all students must meet sufficient proficiency levels to be pursuing their degrees, this may reflect a need for broader intercultural competency training for staff.  

  • International Affairs’ level of state funding support trails the support provided to the libraries and academic units, and is on unstable financial footing. Critical services, such as immigration compliance and recruitment may warrant additional institutional support.  

Preliminary Recommendations and Key Action Steps 

  • Tighter coupling, stronger communication, and joint advocacy could be enormously transformative in terms of connecting and leveraging KU’s existing wealth of expertise and capacity in the international education space.  

  • KU Endowment is now working on a Major Gift Development Plan that captures the priorities of every unit that reports to the Provost. In early discussions, three (3) priorities have been articulated:  

  1. Scholarships for students traditionally underrepresented in education abroad. This is central to KUIA’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives.  

  1. Faculty development fund to support research and collaborative engagement in STEM areas, as well as the unfunded regions of the Middle East, Central Asia, Europe, South Asia, and Africa.  

  1. Funding to enhance KU’s supports to international students, especially for career and professional development. 

  • Faculty felt in significant numbers that policies regarding international visiting scholars were difficult to navigate and/or unsupportive. A clearly laid-out website with relevant policies, links, and resources to support hosting international scholars would be beneficial. That same site may also include information on KU’s seed funding to support international travel, conference participation, and collaborative engagement.  

  • A focus group discussion with Areas Studies Center staff identified several areas of opportunity with regard to supporting areas studies-related work at KU: 

  • There is an opportunity for greater collaboration across KU through the development of a shared calendar of events, as well as opportunities for common staff meetings across KU’s international offices.  

  • The consolidation of roles across centers has led to more specialization and the ability to provide deep and specific expertise to multiple centers. This could be further structured and leveraged.  

  • KU could benefit from a comprehensive and collaborative narrative written by the leaders of research centers to understand the various problems researchers encounter in the pursuit of international research activity/collaboration.  

  • As part of this subcommittee’s work, the Policy Office conducted a full review of KU’s policies related to international activity. A full inventory has been completed and the policies are now categorized alphabetically, by policy owner, and by policy categories. Maintaining this resource will be done through a quarterly review process and the resource will be made available on-line. 

Questions, Thoughts and Considerations for other Lab Subcommittees 

Our subcommittee’s findings from the faculty survey, faculty focus groups, and discussion with research center directors comports well with the findings of the Faculty and Staff Policy Subcommittee. Concerns related to research barriers and the policy environment were prominent.