The Education Abroad Leadership Award is an honor that recognizes members of NAFSA whose careers in education abroad span at least 15 years. Nominees must have an exemplary record of publication, teaching, advising, advocacy, leadership, new program development, and general service to the field that has made and will make a lasting contribution to education abroad. The 2020 Education Abroad Leadership Award recipient is Susan Carty, Director of the Office of Overseas Study at Indiana University (IU).
According to her nominators, Susan Carty is the type of person who “does not like to call attention to herself,” but her work speaks volumes. Susan, who has worked in International Education for over 35 years, has served the field in exemplary ways. In addition to her fulltime position as Director of the Office of Overseas Study at Indiana University (IU), she has served on various advisory and planning committees, held important leadership positions within NAFSA and other education abroad organizations, and has a prolific record of presentation, publication and advocacy in the field.
At IU, Susan has served as a member of various university-wide and campus search and screen, advisory and planning committees, including the Diversity Recruitment Committee of the IU Bloomington Strategic Planning Committee; Office of Student Ethics’ Campus Review Board; the Office for Women’s Affairs Staff Advisory Council; the Women’s Leadership Conference Planning Committee; the Educational Task Force on Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Concerns; and the Executive Council of the Commission on Multicultural Understanding.
Susan has served in distinguished ways to external constituencies in International Education. She has held important leadership positions within NAFSA serving as the Chair of Region VI, Chair of the Regional Affairs Council, Chair of the Education Abroad Knowledge Community and coach for the NAFSA Academy. For more than 25 years she has had leadership roles in the Rainbow Special Interest Group. Susan has presented at numerous International Education conferences, and she co-authored the NAFSA publication Cooperating with a University in the USA: NAFSA's Guide to University Linkages.
Susan has also risen to leadership positions within other International Education organizations. She was conference chair of the International Education of Students (IES) Annual Conference, where she provided important guidance to IES membership as well as to its board of directors and its academic council. She also served on the advisory boards for CAPA: The Global Education Network and the College of Global Studies at Arcadia University.
“Susan has always contributed in energetic and creative ways to all the entities she has served,” writes her nominator, Kathleen Sideli. “She was a pioneer in tackling new positions without a blueprint and is indefatigable in her everyday efforts on behalf of students, faculty and staff. She has always been self-directed and visionary, building systems so that her successors could pick up where she left off.”
“I don’t think you will find anyone who has been quite so involved within international education or someone who advocates as much for others as Susan Carty,” writes another nominator, Mandy Reinig. Susan is known for taking particular interest in mentoring newcomers to the field, engaging underrepresented voices, and maintaining positive and professional relationships with students and colleagues. Margaret Wiedenhoeft writes, “[Carty’s] sense of humor and professionalism remind us that our work is important; our work matters to students and other professionals; and we should always consider those who may not be able to get a seat at the table.”
“I can think of few leaders in our field who exemplify the award’s recognition of distinguished service to Education Abroad better than Susan,” writes Jason Hope. Brad Sekulich concurs. “In a field of intelligent, hard working professionals,” he writes, “Susan stands out.”
Here, Susan reflects on her 35-year career in education abroad and her involvement with NAFSA.
What is your “Why”? What motivates you in your work?
My motivation comes from knowing that each year thousands of students, from diverse backgrounds, across a wide range of academic interests, have the opportunity to participate in hundreds of quality programs facilitated by Indiana University, at least in part due to my efforts.
I feel privileged to be a senior member of the team that provides the infrastructure, services, support and training for the staff who advise students and implement programming and the faculty who design and deliver programs.
What is the best advice you ever received? Who gave it to you?
I routinely hear my father’s cautionary statement “It’s not all about you”. I will be in the middle of a sentence, and I will pause to reconsider ‘have I really thought through all of those that might be impacted by this?’ or ‘is this just the easiest decision for me or is it really the best decision for everyone?’.
What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?
Early in my professional career, I attended a training program on active listening. The trainer was awesome! Listening is not just a common courtesy – it is a means to connect with others so that they know they are valued and understood.
What role has NAFSA played in your leadership journey?
Colleagues who preceded me at Indiana University served as long-time volunteers and leaders in NAFSA. It was always an expectation that we (the IU staff who worked in their offices) would – institutionally and individually – contribute service and knowledge to the field. In my first year in the office, I was asked to attend a NAFSA regional conference and spend volunteer hours at a registration desk. Initially, that seemed like a one-sided activity. I was giving my time and effort to assist others. But I quickly learned that I was benefiting as well. I met experts. I networked with peers from other institutions. I learned about the issues of concern.
NAFSA has given me access to a set of give-and-take opportunities. I have contributed and I have learned. I have connection to an amazing community of colleagues within which I have the opportunity to share experiences.