AIEA Strategic Plan

Strengthening Global Leadership for Internationalization

Approved by AIEA Board of Directors June 1, 2019
Download as a .pdf file: AIEA Strategic Plan, 2019-2023

The AIEA 2019-2023 Strategic Plan aims at further enabling AIEA and its members to lead their institutions and higher education more generally toward the kinds of innovative, transformational, comprehensive internationalization needed for the 21stcentury.  The plan comprises three Strategic Initiatives that address specific issues and are meant to achieve strategic goals and objectives. [1]

The three strategic initiatives aim to:

  • Serve Members with Bold, Distinctive Programming and Services
  • Expand AIEA’s International Engagement, and
  • Develop and Enhance Strategic Partnerships

AIEA will build on the commitment of its leadership, its committees and its members in order to develop specific plans of actions and achieve its specific objectives in collaboration with partner institutions, experts, and sister associations. 

 The AIEA Board is cognizant that such a strategic plan needs to be supported by an appropriate set of means and a strong structure that is constituted of the association staff members, the board members, and the diverse committees. AIEA will strengthen these constituents in such a way they are the most appropriate and strongest team committed to succeed and to realize the AIEA vision for 2023.


The Association of International Education Administrators is a member organization that equips leaders to shape the future of higher education in a global context.


AIEA advances strategic transformational approaches to internationalization of higher education; empowers those who lead such efforts; convenes global conversation on key issues; and partners with other organizations around the world to develop sustainable and forward-looking perspectives.

Strategic Initiative 1: Serve Members with Bold, Distinctive Programming and Services 


Serve members with bold, distinctive programming and services, in order to

  • establish AIEA as the distinct association focused exclusively on comprehensive strategy, leadership, and visioning in the internationalization of higher education;
  • provide opportunities for substantial networking and peer learning;
  • offer high-quality programs and services that builds on AIEA’s distinctive ability to convene and collaborate;   
  • better serve higher education decision makers and internationalization leaders.   

Strategic Objectives

  • AIEA will establish itself as a distinctive, valued, relevant and sought-after source of expertise on comprehensive internationalization strategy, leadership, and visioning for all institutional types around the world, responding to and shaping larger trends in higher education.  
  • AIEA will align existing programs with the new strategic plan and identify and develop a carefully selected set of new programs that foster new thinking and provide essential, up-to-date, globally-derived and globally-relevant knowledge to those leading comprehensive internationalization.  
  • AIEA will position the AIEA Annual Conference as an essential global gathering for dialogue, networking, generating new ideas, and building expertise in comprehensive internationalization strategy and leadership. 
  • AIEA will develop and promote a globally-inclusive understanding, definition of and recognized titles of referring to those who lead internationalization in institutions of higher learning.  

Strategic Initiative 2: Expand AIEA’s International Engagement


Enhance AIEA’s levels of global engagement, in order to

  • advance a globally inclusive, sustainable and collaborative internationalization of higher education;
  • enhance the leadership capabilities of all its members;
  • become an internationally recognized source for dialogue and insight that benefits internationalization leaders around the world. 

Strategic Objectives

  • AIEA will develop knowledge and practices that reflect the perspectives, experiences, situations, and insights of internationalization leaders around the world.
  • AIEA’s membership and leadership will be diverse and globally representative. 
  • AIEA will encourage dialogue and collaborations among internationalization leaders in the USA and around the world.
  • AIEA will maximize inclusion of presenters and participants from different parts of the world in all AIEA programs and activities.
  • AIEA will convene thought leaders and others from within and beyond international education to help address relevant issues to internationalization leaders.  

Strategic Initiative 3: Develop and Enhance Strategic Partnerships


Develop and maintain carefully selected equitable, inclusive, mutually beneficial collaborative relationships both domestically and globally, in order to

  • engage international education leaders on critical issues impacting internationalization of higher education around the world; 
  • deliver high quality and high impact programming; 
  • leverage resources to advance comprehensive internationalization at member institutions.

Strategic Objectives

  • AIEA will strengthen principles and procedures for partnership development and maintenance in order to ensure strategic value to AIEA and maximize mutual benefit for AIEA and its partners;
  • AIEA will evaluate existing partnerships and initiate new ones in the U.S. and beyond guided by these principles and procedures;
  • AIEA will engage members in sustaining and enhancing partner relationships;  
  • AIEA will deepen engagement with sister organizations to establish incentives and metrics for success of joint initiatives. 

Appendix A: The Planning Process

In fall 2017, AIEA President Hilary E. Kahn appointed a Strategic Planning Task Force to oversee development of a new AIEA strategy, working with the Presidential Stream, Executive Board, Executive Director, and Secretariat. The 14 Task Force members represented a range of institutional types, roles within AIEA, and national backgrounds. Operating through a procedural framework developed by strategy-development consultant, Robert F. Nelson of NSC Consulting, the Task Force was charged with leading the creative thinking, information gathering, analysis, and goal-determination needed for developing the new Strategic Plan. 

The procedural framework for this process contained three stages, anchored by the middle stage, a retreat directed toward producing a widely endorsed set of priorities for AIEA’s next four years.

Stage 1: Preparation for the Retreat

The process began with a February 2018 meeting that defined the role of the Task Force, reached agreement on the strategy development process, and considered the full range of AIEA stakeholders whose interests should be considered. 

Over the next five months, the Task Force collected data concerning AIEA, its programs, membership, and impacts; analyzed the numerous surveys and evaluations solicited from AIEA members over the last few years; conducted comparative analyses of other international education organizations; completed a detailed SWOT analysis; assembled existing documents on AIEA’s mission and purpose; and identified key readings that give insight on current trends in international higher education. A small set of interviews was also conducted, not enough to be representative of all AIEA members, but nevertheless yielding some additional perspectives. These materials were compiled into an electronic briefing book of over 200 pages, distributed in advance to all individuals coming to the Retreat. 

Stage 2: The Retreat

In late August 2018, 26 individuals gathered for a 1.5-day Retreat in Durham, North Carolina. Retreat activities were organized and conducted by Robert Nelson. Participants included the Task Force, Executive Board members, and Secretariat staff. The lively and thoughtful discussion worked toward defining an envisioned ideal future state for AIEA, identifying priority strategic initiatives for AIEA’s next four years, and identifying what might constitute success for each of these initiatives. 

The Retreat opened with a discussion of possible changes to AIEA’s mission. Next, participants developed a common vision of AIEA’s ideal future state five years out. They then engaged in an association market place analysis examining sister organizations’ attributes and strengths, identifying AIEA’s advantageous attributes, and considering where collaboration might be fruitful.

This was followed by a comprehensive environmental scan, including discussion of the SWOT analysis done by the Task Force. The group also developed informed estimates of future trends in the socio-demographic, technological, economic, environmental, political, and international educational contexts relevant to AIEA. Finally, participants identified, discussed and rated the impact of key issues and challenges that AIEA may encounter over the next five years.

The Retreat culminated in the group generating a total of 65 potential strategic initiatives deriving from the above discussions and analyses. Condensation and prioritization techniques were then used to identify the top four priority arenas for strategic initiatives: Programs & Services, Branding/PR/Communications, Partnerships/Collaboration, and Global Engagement.

Stage 3: Post-Retreat Strategy Document Development

Retreat discussions were captured in a Retreat Proceedings document drafted by Nelson and a detailed set of Retreat Notes produced by the Secretariat, each 24 pages long. Using this output, Nelson drafted a preliminary strategy document, which the Task Force modified and amplified to create a Strategic Plan, then presented to the Board for approval. 

The Board reviewed the strategic plan draft at its January 2019 board meeting.  The draft plan was also presented to membership for feedback. Following these meetings, the Presidential Stream was tasked with revising the plan and presenting a final version for vote at the June 2019 board meeting. 

Appendix B: AIEA Strategic Planning Task Force 2018-2023

Susan Buck Sutton, Chair
Senior Associate, Center for International & Global Engagement, ACE
Research Associate, Center for International Partnerships, IIE
Past President, AIEA

Michael Brennan                                
Director, International Education, Hillsboro Community College 

Harvey Charles                                   
Dean and Vice Provost for International Education & Global Strategy, SUNY Albany
Past President, AIEA

James Cooney
Vice Provost for International Affairs, Colorado State University 

Kati Csoman
Dean, International Education, Juniata College
Incoming Board member, AIEA

Darla Deardorff
Executive Director, AIEA

Hans de Wit 
Director, Center for International Higher Education Boston College

Adel El Zaim 
Chief Internationalization Officer, The University of Ottawa           

Hilary Kahn 
Associate Dean, School of International & Global Studies, Indiana University
Immediate Past President, AIEA

Cheryl Matherly
Vice President & Vice Provost for International Affairs, Lehigh University
President-elect, AIEA

Douglas Proctor
Director, International Affairs, University College, Dublin

Nell Pynes
Associate Provost, International Programs, University of North Carolina – Greensboro
President, AIEA

Donna Scarboro
Associate Provost, International Programs, George Washington University
Past President, AIEA

Jewel Winn
Senior International Officer & Deputy Chief Diversity Officer, Tennessee State University 

[1]The strategy was developed by a Task Force in cooperation with the AIEA Board of Directors and Secretariat. For a description of the process and the Task Force, see the appendices.

Previous AIEA Strategic Plans: 
Strategic Action Plan 2013-2017
Strategic Action Plan 2007-2012
Strategic Action Plan 2000-2005
AIEA Implementation Plan 2014-2018 (.pdf)