Annie Phillips, PhD, executive director for International Affairs at Texas Woman’s University, has been named a Presidential Fellow for the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA). She is one of only five senior international officers from universities around the world selected for the award, which includes a $2,000 stipend and mentorship by an experienced senior international officer for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Phillips will work with a mentor to design and implement a plan of action with three key objectives she would like to accomplish. She also will visit her mentor’s campus to learn about the policies, politics and procedures of the mentor’s institution. The pair will conduct regular online meetings to address topics of interest and areas of desired growth.
Phillips plans to use this experience to develop a strategic and intentional plan for supporting and expanding international efforts at TWU.
“As a Presidential Fellow, I have the unique opportunity to tap into the insights and wisdom of accomplished leaders in international education,” Phillips said. “This fellowship is a fabulous opportunity to put TWU’s purpose into action: ‘Educate a woman, empower the world.’”
Phillips, who came to TWU in 2007, has a varied background of community college and university teaching as well as television reporting experience. In 2015, she was named head of the university’s newly formed Education Abroad office. In 2018, the office of International Affairs was established to centralize TWU’s international efforts. Phillips was selected as the inaugural executive director for the new department.
International Affairs oversees the development and implementation programming related to international education at TWU, including initiatives involving curricula and academic collaborations, international partnerships, international student success and in-bound and outbound international experiences for students and faculty.
“In January, when COVID-19 appeared in China, my team and I began closely monitoring the situation and establishing a response plan,” Phillips said. “We jumped into action to help students studying abroad navigate the complexity of getting home as international travel options became constrained.”
Realizing that the pandemic would soon impact the United States, International Affairs also began assessing the needs of TWU’s international students.
“Most of our international students chose to stay in the United States to finish the spring semester. We quickly connected these students with university and community services in an effort to address some of their most pressing needs such as food and emergency funding for living expenses.”
In an effort to provide additional support for international students, the International Affairs office:
- Notified student assistant supervisors of employment restrictions for international students and provided the supervisors with ideas for tasks, assignments and projects that would allow those students to continue working from home.
- Hosted live chats to connect and communication important and evolving information with current and incoming international students.
- Distributed International Scholar Medallions to graduating international and education abroad students.
- Conducted a comprehensive survey of international students’ experiences from the time they apply to TWU through their post-graduation Optional Practical Training experience. The insights will be used to identify areas for growth and improvement.
- Is developing an online orientation program for incoming international students.
- Is implementing a new software system aimed at streamlining immigration and advising procedures for international students.