This year marks the 50-year anniversary of IU’s Office of Overseas Study. The university celebrated this milestone at a reception that also honored Associate Vice President Kathleen Sideli for her distinguished career and 40 years of dedicated service to the university as well as her contributions and leadership more broadly in the field of international education.
While Indiana University’s rich history of study abroad dates back to 1879, the administration of such programs was under the purview of individual faculty and departments, primarily within the College of Arts and Sciences. In the fall of 1972, with Walter T. K. Nugent as its director, the Office of Overseas Study was established as a university-wide office to facilitate study abroad for students of any major, IU school, or campus. In total, about 70,000 IU students have studied abroad in dozens of countries on almost every continent. Most recently, before the pandemic, IU Bloomington was ranked fifth in the nation for the absolute number of students studying abroad and third for those completing semester-long programs. Most notably, thirty percent of IUB seniors graduating in 2020-21 had at least one credit-bearing study abroad experience while at IU.
Kathleen Sideli was honored at the reception with IU’s Distinguished International Service Award ahead of her retirement on July 1, 2022. Sideli began her career at Indiana University in 1979 as the office’s first study abroad advisor, later serving as associate director, then director, until she was named associate vice president in 2007. Sideli addressed the crowd to offer her thanks to those in attendance who supported her throughout her career. “My heart is filled with gratitude, so my inclination is to want to thank you individually for helping me have the best career imaginable. Each of you has walked with me in your own way on this journey. Study abroad is a team effort,” she said.
A number of friends and colleagues were on hand to celebrate her long and distinguished career, including a former director of Overseas Study as well as administrators, faculty leaders, and staff, some whose involvement with the office goes back to its earliest days. University Chancellor and President Emeritus Michael McRobbie cited the key role Sideli had in making the Office of Overseas Study into what it is today: “Indiana University’s Office of Overseas Study is indisputably one of the most successful externally focused programs, not just at Indiana University, but at any public research university in the United States.” He further stated that, “IU is rightly considered to be one of America’s most international and internationally engaged universities. Many can take a share of the credit for this. But the share that is rightly Kathy’s is immense.”
Overseas Study Director Susan Carty, who has worked alongside Sideli for more than 20 years, acknowledged her contributions to the field of international education as well as her daily leadership in the office, noting her commitment to staff maintaining a healthy work life balance. Hannah Buxbaum, current vice president for International Affairs, also touched on Sideli’s role in the international education community at large and the leadership positions she has held, including being a founding member and the inaugural president of the Forum for Education Abroad, which is the body responsible for developing standard practices for the field. “Kathy’s depth of knowledge is exceptional and her dedication unmatched,” Buxbaum said. “She is a nationally recognized leader in the field of study abroad, and her work here at IU has transformed the educational experience for countless students.”
|As a tribute to her career, contributions may be made to the Kathleen A. Sideli Scholarship for Overseas Study, which she created a few years ago to support study abroad.|