ACC members shift focus from sports to international education for conference Nov. 3-4

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 26, 2005 – The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) colleges and universities will hold their first International Academic Collaboration (IAC) conference Nov. 3-4 at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center on the Virginia Tech campus.

The two-day conference will bring together representatives from each participating ACC institution for round table discussions, seminars, and panel sessions to share best practices and explore opportunities for meaningful collaborations relating to international educational programs.

This meeting resulted from the desire of ACC members to work together on initiatives that will strengthen the member institutions academically.

With the expansion of the ACC to 12 institutions, the presidents of the ACC schools wanted to launch a high profile academic collaboration that would bring educational excellence to the forefront. An ACC/IAC official statement endorsed by the 12 university presidents focuses on the reasons for their choice of international programs:

“The events of the last 15 years, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the Iraq War, have underscored the multiple ways in which the future of the United States is inextricably linked to the nation’s ability to respond to the challenges of globalization. As the importance of international competence becomes more evident, the many constituencies of higher education are calling for universities to provide students with international knowledge, experience, and skills as part of their basic mission. . . . [T]he sharing of best practices and the initiation of meaningful collaborations present intriguing opportunities for adding international value to the educational experience.”

“The 12-member Atlantic Coast Conference, with its mixture of public and private research universities and its extensive network of athletic collaborations, offers a highly promising framework for academic collaborations on international education programs. . . . A major goal of this initiative would be to establish the reputation of the ACC as a conference of highly internationalized world-class universities.”

The ACC presidents formed a Working Group on International Academic Collaborations (IAC) including chief representatives from each college or university with responsibility for international programs. This group developed a strategic plan that created a managing committee and that calls for biennial conferences to share best practices and information. Virginia Tech's representative, Vice Provost for Outreach and International Affairs John E. Dooley, is serving as chair of the first conference and also chairs a subcommittee on communications and public awareness.

Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger will open the conference and host a Thursday evening reception. Keynote speaker will be U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicolas Burns.

The managing committee will also report to conference attendees about its other initiatives, including honoring outstanding international programs, faculty, and students; creating an ACC/IAC website linking international gateways at ACC member institutions; collaborating on existing education abroad opportunities and introducing new ACC multi-institutional initiatives; establishing an education abroad scholarship program; encouraging faculty collaboration through annual summer overseas missions; and initiating research to assess the effectiveness of international education programs.