State Department Official to Lead University-wide International Initiatives
The University of Nebraska has named a new associate vice president to lead university-wide efforts to substantially increase the University's global engagement. Thomas A. Farrell, deputy assistant secretary for academic programs in the U.S. Department of State, will lead planning, development and implementation of the University of Nebraska's international agenda. As associate vice president for international affairs, Farrell will work closely with administrators and faculty on the four campuses to advance NU's international initiatives.

University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken said, "Tom Farrell has extraordinary experience, relationships and skills which will enable him to provide leadership for this important strategic priority for the University of Nebraska. Over the course of his 30-year career in the federal government and the private sector, Tom has worked successfully to expand educational opportunities for Americans abroad and to promote exchange opportunities for foreign students and scholars. He brings exceptional credentials and relevant experience which will help us develop important new relationships and expand opportunities for our students and faculty."

In his current position, Farrell is responsible for leading U.S. educational exchanges, including the prestigious Fulbright program and Humphrey fellowships. He has helped rebuild American higher education leadership internationally over the last few years through high profile activities in Washington and around the world. He came to the Department of State with 14 years of experience at the Institute of International Education, a private non-profit organization concentrating on education, professional development, training and exchange.

"I'm honored to have the opportunity to work for Nebraska and its university system," Farrell said. "In this time of unprecedented challenge, the value internationally of U.S. higher education is recognized and partnerships with our great American institutions are appreciated and sought after. Nebraska offers the resources, talent and leadership to enhance its excellent reputation in key global markets and to create the kind of innovative programs that will make it even more a leader in international education."

UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said Farrell is well known and well connected around the globe and in the U.S. "Our experience in international activities convinces me that personal relationships are the key to success," Perlman said. "Tom brings a unique set of personal relationships in foreign countries that will be invaluable as we try to expand our international education efforts as well as our research collaborations."

Clarey Castner, president of the University of Nebraska Foundation, said the Foundation is actively engaged in raising funds to provide more opportunities for students to study abroad. "This is an important initiative that will elevate the experience that students and faculty have at the University of Nebraska, and I believe Tom Farrell will bring great leadership to this effort," Castner said.

Farrell will focus on three areas of strategic importance to the University and Nebraska including increasing study abroad participation for Nebraska students, growing international student enrollment, and expanding faculty exchanges and strategic relationships for Nebraska.

"It is critical that our students see themselves as part of a larger world – and that they experience different cultures and expand their educational horizons to prepare for a global economy," Milliken said. "For Nebraska to succeed in the future, we must develop graduates who understand the world in which they live and work." He added, "Our nation's challenges and their solutions are increasingly global; our businesses, including those in Nebraska, are increasingly international, and students with international experience will find their academic experience enriched and their employment prospects enhanced."

Milliken said another University goal is to attract more international students to the University of Nebraska. According to estimates from the Institute of International Education, these students contributed more than $80 million to Nebraska's economy in 2007. But their contribution isn't only financial – it's also what they add to the University's campuses and communities, said Doug Kristensen, chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Kearney. "We have 600 international students at UNK including more than 200 from Japan," Kristensen said. "These students greatly enrich our campus and our community, and create new opportunities for a better understanding of international issues, cultures and politics."

The University of Nebraska also hopes to expand opportunities for faculty exchanges and strategic relationships around the world. Among Farrell's responsibilities will be leveraging the University's programmatic strengths and developing new partnerships to expand teaching, research and service opportunities for university faculty, staff, and students outside of the United States.

"It is imperative that the state's only public university be a leader in fostering student and faculty exchanges, providing Nebraskans important opportunities to understand the world as well as help people around the world know Nebraska," Milliken said. Among the current programs he cited are the Afghan Teacher Education Project, which has brought teachers from Afghanistan to participate in a training and education program on the UNO campus; long-standing UNL agricultural research exchange programs with universities in Brazil and other countries; and a new joint M.D.-Ph.D. program that UNMC has initiated with a university in China.

Farrell will begin work at the university on February 23.



Thomas A. Farrell
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Academic Programs
Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs


Thomas A. Farrell was named by President George W. Bush as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs in May 2002. In this capacity, he is responsible for all academic programs sponsored by the Department of State, including the Fulbright Program for students, teachers, scholars and mid-career professionals in the Humphrey program, teacher exchange programs, English language programs, Study of the United States programs, and programs for undergraduate students. He serves as the Department of State's lead executive for programs and initiatives such as President Bush's National Security Language Initiative to promote quality teaching and mastery of critical need foreign languages. He is also responsible for international student advising and marketing of American higher education resources through Education USA's network of offices around the world; activities that support specialized scholarly research and other education and people to people activities through the Council of American Overseas Research Centers; and Bureau activities designed to support the educational interests of the United States in international organizations and multilateral initiatives.

Farrell came to the Department of State with 14 years of experience in the private, non-governmental arena that was concentrated on education, professional development, training, and exchange. In 1987, he joined the Institute of International Education (IIE) as Regional Director in Houston, Texas, where he led the local Council of International Visitors office, international student services, a large active volunteer corps, and worked closely with an advisory board of corporate, civic, and academic leaders in the South and South Central regions of the U.S. He was promoted to Vice President of IIE and transferred to New York in 1990, and assigned to Washington, D.C. in 1992.

At IIE he concentrated on developing and expanding activities designed to build international capacity for U.S. university and professional school students, primary and secondary school teachers, international students, and U.S. and international professionals. He supervised the operation of the Institute's U.S. regional office network in Denver, Houston, San Francisco and Chicago, and through them was involved in significant fundraising activities, advocacy efforts and corporate programs for U.S. and foreign students as well as visitors from abroad. In addition to developing new scholarship programs for U.S. undergraduate students, he was active in both foreign government and U.S. business-sponsored programs to enhance leadership development among university students from outside the U.S. and the professional development of American primary and secondary educators and administrators.

Prior to joining IIE, Farrell worked in the U.S. Department of State; he served as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer from 1978-1987 in Iran, Canada, and Washington, D.C., where he worked in the Department of State's Operations Center, the Secretariat, and as a Special Assistant to Secretary of State George P. Shultz. In 1976, while a graduate student at the University of Michigan, Farrell was a Fulbright Fellow to Pakistan. In addition, he worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer in India.

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