Although retired, I have maintained my membership with NAFSA; in fact, I’ve been a member since 1977- over four decades. Many followers of my blog are also members or perhaps know of the association and its preeminent work in the field of international education. It is the largest organization of its kind in the world. In recent years, annual conferences usually have had upwards of 9-10,000 participants. That is, until 2020…
Some of my oldest friends are a result of my ties to the mission of NAFSA . I built my reputation largely as a result of my collaboration with campus and organizational colleagues whom I met and worked with as a result of my participation in NAFSA conference programs and sponsored domestic and international activities.
All this is to say how sad I am to have received a message today from the NAFSA Board President and the CEO. In part, it said: “Our inability to host two consecutive in-person conferences, due to COVID-19, has drastically reduced NAFSA’s revenues and operating budget. We were forced to reduce positions at the NAFSA office; positions filled by colleagues we have worked with side by side for years. Combined with reduced revenue from membership dues, the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic profoundly affected NAFSA’s finances.“
This is not a shock; we’ve been aware of lay-offs and furloughs on campuses and with organizations- faculty and senior and mid-career administrators – all year. I knew a good number of the staff NAFSA laid off.
If you are working in the field of international education, anywhere in the world, and unsure whether you intend to register to attend the upcoming NAFSA annual conference [https://www.nafsa.org/conferences/nafsa-2021], please re-consider just how important your support is in 2021. Many professionals are at academic institutions or with organizations who have been forced to cancel their staff professional memberships.
This is merely a nudge. NAFSA plays an extremely critical role as an advocate with Congressional leaders to impact both our domestic and international policies with regard to the flow of students and scholars as well as funding for longstanding stalwart programs like the Fulbright program. Some readers may not realize that well over 1 million international students study in any given year in all 50 states – on urban and rural campuses, at four and two-year institutions.
I believe it’s in the national interest to sustain the work of NAFSA.
Think about it. Please. And if possible, register at nafsa.org to attend the NAFSA conference taking place this June 1-4.