RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSITION
Reporting to the vice provost for academic affairs, the associate vice provost (AVP) for international education and director of the office of international students and scholars (OISS) provides successful strategic leadership and direction for immigration-related policies and operations-related functions to support Rice’s internationalization efforts. The AVP develops programs and policies to support international expansion and infrastructure in various areas, including research, international collaborative initiatives, training, and graduate and undergraduate study through partnerships, global connections, and strategic process improvement.
OISS serves as the chief liaison office for immigration advising, cultural adaptation, international student and scholar compliance, networking, connections, and academic support with university departments, government agencies, and community advocates. The associate vice provost leads a team of eight direct and eleven indirect reports and oversees a budget of $1.7M.
QUALIFICATIONS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATE
An advanced degree and substantial and progressively responsible experience in leading and mentoring a team, building infrastructure to support immigration needs for international education, extensive knowledge of immigration law and regulatory compliance requirements for nonimmigrants in the higher education sector, and a record of creating professional development, acculturation, and hospitality support for international students and scholars are required. The candidate must exhibit strong communication skills, the ability to foster relationships and connections to further the organization’s mission, and a passion for working with international students and scholars. The AVP serves as the Primary Designated School Official (PDSO) and Responsible Officer (RO) of Rice University and, therefore, must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident.
In addition to the qualifications stated above, key stakeholders identified the following competencies and attributes of a successful candidate:
- Subject matter expert regarding immigration compliance and transition issues, able to translate policies to constituents, and adept at ensuring strategic and consistent application, prioritizing positive impact, and building a thriving international community.
- Influential, responsive, and collaborative—able to establish a purposeful network, effectively navigate relationships across campus, and encourage responsiveness, resource activation, and diverse perspectives to enhance international education.
- Adaptable, with a proven track record in change management for effectively addressing growth-related challenges at OISS and Rice University.
- Effective communicator and liaison providing transparent and clear campus-wide OISS representation.
- A seasoned, proactive leader with a fair approach who is adept at creative problem-solving, possesses an entrepreneurial mindset, and is self-reliant, yet readily recognizes when to seek assistance.
- A true champion of others—skilled at representing and advocating for the interests of students, scholars, and OISS staff to senior administration, ensuring their perspectives and concerns are heard and addressed.
- Possesses the vision and capability to optimize OISS’ scope of responsibility and enhance operational efficiency while navigating geopolitical challenges and establishing a resilient system that safeguards student well-being and sustains uninterrupted operations.
- A genuine supporter of students, displaying authentic care, a deep interest in global cultures, a curiosity about nuanced distinctions, and a commitment to ongoing personal growth and learning.
- Well-connected within international education networks, well-informed about current trends, and adept at swiftly identifying and capitalizing on innovative opportunities.
- Proven capacity to foster an inclusive culture, exemplify impartiality, remain politically neutral, and cultivate an environment where students feel comfortable seeking assistance.
HISTORY OF THE POSITION
The most recent associate vice president for international education and director of the office of international students and scholars retired after founding the role and expanding the position portfolio during her 26-year tenure at Rice University.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF THE ROLE
In transitioning to Rice University, the associate vice president and director of the office of international students and scholars will encounter the following opportunities, priorities, and challenges, as shared by key campus stakeholders:
It is an exciting time to be at Rice University. Situated in Houston, Texas, the most diverse city in the nation, Rice University appointed its eighth president and welcomed a new provost in 2022, commencing a 12-month strategic planning process in January 2023. There is palpable excitement surrounding their push to expand Rice’s global presence. Rice’s leadership created a ﬂat and accessible organizational culture, fostering a profoundly intellectually stimulating environment where the new AVP will become integral to the institution’s dynamic activities. Successful candidates must excel in this culture, characterized by accessible, collaborative, collegial leaders who are driven to support their peers.
Rice is expanding globalization and emphasizing international education. Rice has plans to open campuses in Paris and Brazil, is establishing partnerships with institutions in India, and signing new agreements for study abroad and exchange programs for students and faculty. The efforts of “Rice Global” have taken off in the last year and are dynamic. Partnerships are evolving, with new emphases in growing Rice’s international reputation. As a prominent part of international education opportunities at Rice, the new AVP will be a critical thought partner with Rice leadership in establishing roles and responsibilities to strengthen Rice’s efforts to go “beyond the hedges” (a popular colloquial phrase referencing the hedges surrounding campus).
Compliance is decentralized and relies on close partnerships. The new AVP must leverage comprehensive expertise in immigration compliance to make strategic decisions that enhance support for scholars and students while optimizing Rice’s operational efficiency. The general counsel’s office is a committed partner supporting the AVP and OISS with a variety of compliance issues and PDSO-related matters, acting as a sounding board and facilitating solutions. At the same time, there are opportunities to streamline and improve compliance-related processes and challenges. A strategic AVP will support Rice’s efforts to coordinate the outsourcing of immigration-related legal counsel, provide more proactive support for students, scholars, and spouses regarding visa issues, and work with campus partners to define a more sustainable operational process to ensure continued positive outcomes.
OISS is renowned as an outstanding campus partner. For instance, OISS collaborated closely with admissions to streamline their processes, ensuring optimal conditions for international students to enroll at Rice. Furthermore, the AVP consistently aids academic departments in scholar support, spanning hiring, transition, and community integration. Handling these potentially complex situations demands expertise and dedication to achieve successful outcomes.
Rice is increasing its investment in OISS to sustain high service levels amid growing demands. The AVP and OISS have consistently delivered exceptional support and responsiveness, even in the face of substantial growth in international students and scholars and complex federal immigration policies. This support continued through the global pandemic and mental health crisis, with a focus on individualized support and service.
Stakeholders expect this high level of service to be maintained as Rice aims to expand its international presence. Some stakeholders also seek enhanced support for foreign national postdoctoral researchers and envision OISS as a comprehensive resource for all foreign nationals at Rice. Additionally, Rice aims to foster a more flexible and agile operational culture to maximize growth in world-class international students and scholars.
To accommodate this expanded scope and flexibility, Rice has significantly increased OISS staffing, growing from 11 to 19 staff members since 2021, with an additional position budgeted for FY 2025. A new organizational structure has been established to optimize OISS operations. The incoming AVP must be a skilled leader and manager capable of guiding a diverse team, maintaining exceptional service levels, and remaining open to feedback and organizational adjustments to ensure staff retention and alignment with Rice’s objectives.
MEASURES OF SUCCESS
The following criteria will measure the new associate vice provost’s success during the first year:
- Engaged and Well-Staffed Team: The staff is fully engaged, feels heard, actively participates in professional development, and experiences high job satisfaction.
- Clear Vision and Strategy: A clear vision and strategy have been communicated and embraced, with a well-defined implementation plan.
- Seamless Transition and Student Support: The transition is seamless, maintaining a high standard of care and support for students, resulting in continued high student satisfaction. Faculty and staff partners view the new AVP as responsive and valuable, preserving OISS’ reputation as an exceptional resource.
- Creative and Collaborative Leadership: The AVP and OISS are recognized for their creativity and collaboration, contributing to robust student outcomes, fostering a sense of community, and promoting overall student success.
- Efficiency through Technology: Innovations in technology and work methods enable smoother asynchronous support, such as communication via portals, facilitating scalable solutions to complex challenges.
- Campus Integration and Outreach: The new AVP is fully integrated, thriving, and renowned for proactive outreach, influential contributions, and strong campus relationships.
OVERVIEW OF THE OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AND SCHOLARS
Rice University’s office of international students and scholars enhances the experience of Rice’s international population (which includes all nonimmigrant visa students, researchers, and faculty) by serving as the chief liaison office for immigration advising, cultural adaptation, immigration legal compliance reporting, networking, connections, and academic support with university departments, government agencies, and community advocates. OISS also supports Rice’s intensive English students, special international guests, and international delegations. Hailing from seven countries, including Brazil, Costa Rica, Finland, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Mexico, and the United States, and speaking eight foreign languages, including Finnish, French, Hungarian, Kazakh, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, OISS staff are just as international as the population they serve.
OISS provided services, advising, and guidance to Rice’s over 4,400 students and scholars currently on campus and more than 1,300 prospective students and scholars facing myriad challenges transitioning to Rice. International degree-seeking students (not including exchange/ visiting students) represent 27 percent of the overall degree-seeking student population and add to the vibrancy and diversity of the student body. In addition, international scholars are integral to furthering Rice’s research mission with global academic distinction. See the OISS website here.
Based on data from Rice’s 2022 statistical report:
- Over the last ten years, the number of new international students admitted to Rice has increased by 136 percent.
- International applications to Rice have increased by 240 percent in the last ten years, thanks to Rice’s internationalization and outreach efforts.
- Rice continued its commitment to diversity and, despite myriad external challenges, increased the total number of international students enrolled in academic programs.
- International students at Rice hail from 113 countries/regions.
Rice University is a private, comprehensive research university located in the heart of Houston’s dynamic Museum District and adjacent to the Texas Medical Center. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees across eight schools and has a student body of approximately 4,000 undergraduate and 3,500 graduate students. Rice consistently ranks among the top 20 national universities and the top ten in undergraduate teaching (U.S. News & World Report); its endowment ranks among the top 20 U.S. universities. In Fall 2022, there were 4,444 international students and scholars at Rice, of which 40 percent were degree-seeking graduate students, 13 percent degree-seeking undergraduates, 17 percent scholars, and 31 percent in other categories, such as OPT, exchange students, dependents, and staff.
The Student Body (Fall 2022 Data)
Total enrollment: 8,565
International students: 27.2% (113 countries represented)
Out-of-state students: 36.9%
Texas students: 35.9%
Rice University views diversity, equity, and inclusion as a central and meaningful part of the overall university experience. These values increase the vitality of everything Rice does for education, scholarship, service, and community.
Reginald DesRoches, President
Reginald DesRoches is Rice University’s eighth president. He also serves as a professor of civil and environmental engineering and professor of mechanical engineering. As president, DesRoches is the chief executive officer of the university and its 8,560 plus students, eight schools, and more than 900 faculty. He previously served as Rice’s Howard Hughes Provost and William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering.
Under DesRoches’ leadership, several new majors and professional master’s programs were launched, including a new undergraduate business major. Several online programs were created during his time as provost, including online degrees in the Jones Graduate School of Business and several online master’s degrees in the school of engineering. During his time as provost, DesRoches prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion, establishing the office of diversity, equity, and inclusion, which has been instrumental in dramatically increasing the diversity of Rice’s faculty and graduate student population. He also began leading the first major expansion of the undergraduate body in over a decade.
Amy Dittmar, Provost
Amy Dittmar is a distinguished scholar with an extensive economics, finance, and university administration background. She is the Howard R. Hughes Provost, a professor of finance with Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business, and a professor of economics with the school of social sciences.
As provost, Dittmar oversees Rice’s academic enterprise, including direct reporting relationships for the deans of eight schools, the dean of undergraduates, the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies, the vice provost for academic affairs, and other key leaders.
Dittmar earned her bachelor’s degree in finance and business economics from Indiana University and her PhD in finance from the University of North Carolina. She was an assistant professor at Indiana University before moving to the University of Michigan, where she held a series of top-level administrative roles, including acting provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.
C. Fred Higgs III, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
C. Fred Higgs III is vice provost for academic affairs, managing part of the provost’s central academic operations team focused primarily on serving Rice faculty in all dimensions of their work. The academic affairs division includes the office of international students and scholars, the office of faculty development, and the program for writing and communication.
Higgs received a BS in mechanical engineering (1995), an MS in mechanical engineering (1997), and a PhD in mechanical engineering (2001) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology from 2001-2003, then a faculty member in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University from 2003-2016. Higgs joined the faculty at Rice in 2016 and serves as the faculty director of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership.
Rice University offers a wide array of benefits and perks, including medical and dental coverage for staff and their families, primary care leave for new parents, disability coverage, flexible spending accounts, retirement plans, and generous time-off programs. To help balance work and life, Rice also offers an employee assistance program, child care, backup child care services, and a wellness program to encourage a healthier lifestyle. Their recreation center has many programs and activities available to Rice staff to promote and maintain active and healthy living. As an institution of higher education, Rice encourages learning and ongoing education for the staff with various tuition programs.
See the site for prospective employees here.
Review of applications will begin October 10, 2023 and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter. Nominations for this position may be emailed to Kara Kravetz Cupoli at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895 or email email@example.com.
Salary Range $125,000 to $135,000
Visit the Rice University website at https://www.rice.edu/
Rice University is an Equal Opportunity Employer with commitment to diversity at all levels, and considers for employment qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, genetic information, disability or protected veteran status.