After a distinguished career spanning 40 years and countless contributions to the field of international education, Kathleen Sideli, Ph.D., who served as IU’s Associate Vice President for Overseas Study until her retirement in June 2022, received a Life Membership Award at the NAFSA 2023 Annual Conference.
NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the largest and most comprehensive association of professionals committed to advancing international higher education. The association believes that international education, exchange, and global workforce development advances learning and scholarship, fosters understanding and respect among people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, is essential for developing globally competent individuals, and builds leadership for the global community. Ultimately, it is a group of over 10,000 individuals from across all 50 states and over 150 countries who are dedicated to enlightened international relations, globally engaged citizenry, and a more peaceful and just world.
“NAFSA’s strength derives from our members like Kathleen Sideli, who, over the course of a career, has provided the association with formal and informal leadership, encouraged collaborative dialogues, and promoted knowledge creation to strengthen and serve the field,” said Fanta Aw, Ph.D., executive director and CEO of NAFSA. “Our community has relied on leaders like our Life Members for inspiration as we educate, advocate and innovate in international education. The dedication, effort, and advocacy of these committed members has been essential to the association’s success for over 75 years.”
Life Membership is awarded to NAFSA members in recognition of their career achievements in advancing the goals of the association and of international education and exchange after their retirement from professional responsibilities in the field. Most recipients must be nominated by colleagues—in this case, myself along with two individuals who themselves have been awarded NAFSA Life Membership .
After working with Kathy for nearly 40 years, in sister offices and then in Overseas Study, I had seen first-hand the impact that she had on IU, the field of study abroad, and on countless individuals as a colleague, mentor, and friend. She undoubtedly made important and lasting contributions to the field of international education and exchange over the duration of her career. She was a pioneer in establishing Indiana University as a leader in the field with over 380 study abroad programs in over 70 countries and over $13 million in financial aid each year with a focus on increasing access to these transformational experiences.
“Receiving NAFSA’s Life Membership award was a joyful honor, serving as an unexpected capstone to my long career in study abroad” said Sideli. “I am grateful to NAFSA for giving me so many opportunities over the decades to learn and grow from my mentors and peers as well as affording me multiple chances to hone my own leadership skills. Being there in person to celebrate NAFSA’s 75th anniversary was a moving experience and a reminder that NAFSA will continue to inspire and support future professionals in the field of international education.”
Kathleen Sideli, Ph.D. retired in 2022 as the associate vice president for overseas study at Indiana University where she had responsibility for study abroad programs on all IU campuses. She taught Spanish for twenty-five years while being active in the field of study abroad for more than four decades. Sideli served in many leadership positions, including chair of NAFSA’s Rainbow SIG; chair of NAFSA’s Section on U.S. Students Abroad (SECUSSA); founding member and the first president of The Forum on Education Abroad; chair of CIEE’s Academic Consortium Board and member of its board of directors. She received several awards in the field including the NAFSA Region VI Leo Dowling Award of Excellence, IES-Abroad Lifetime Achievement Award, IU Bicentennial Medal, CIEE’s Bridge Builder Award and IU’s Distinguished International Service Award.
Sideli was a frequent presenter at conferences and has been published in the field, co-authoring chapters of NAFSA’s Guide to Education Abroad for Advisers and Administrators for three editions and contributing a chapter to the History of U.S. Study Abroad: 1965-Present. She also co-edited the 40th Anniversary Retrospective: Overseas Study at Indiana University.