Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, USA, and TU Dortmund University have been linked by a university partnership for over 20 years. Together, the universities have run the "Global Staff Fellows Program", which gave employees from the fields of management, administration and student services the opportunity for exchange.
In the program, initiated by TU Chancellor Albrecht Ehlers, staff were able to share best practices, expand their global network, and consider the work of their departments in the context of international higher education. A total of 16 members from the two universities participated in the seminar series, which consisted of eight 90-minute online sessions in January and February 2021. The final event was held on March 3, 2021.
In the introductory sessions, participants received an overview of the partner universities and of higher education in Germany and the United States. Guest speakers and accompanying text materials provided professional skills. Participants were also able to share their experiences and best practices in similar fields and positions. In subsequent sessions, they explored topics including design thinking, student advising, career advising and student talent development, student mental health and well-being, diversity, equity, and inclusion and advising refugees. At the conclusion of the series, participants received a certificate designating them as "Global Staff Fellows."
Further contribution to the internationalization of TU Dortmund University
"The workshop gave me good insights into the U.S. higher education system," says participant Dr. Ute Zimmermann, head of the Equal Opportunities Office at TU Dortmund University. "It was incredibly interesting to learn about the differences from the German higher education system. The atmosphere in the workshops was also very trusting." Annette Jendrosch from the Central Student Advisory Service also praised the program, saying, "I am sure that I will benefit from the new contacts and ideas in the long term. Through the design thinking method that was presented, I also came across more workshop ideas for students or pupils."
The seminar series was led by Dr. Barbara Schneider, head of the International Office, and her counterpart Stacy Burger from Lehigh University. "The project is so far unique in this form at TU Dortmund University," says Dr. Barbara Schneider. "The program is intended as a prototype to be followed by other such personnel development measures to further advance the internationalization of administrative staff." Albrecht Ehlers also expressed his satisfaction at the digital closing event: "With this event, we have made a further contribution to the increasing internationalization of our university."
The "NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo" is by far the world's largest trade fair on the topic of "International Education" and offers participating universities, experts and service providers a forum for international exchange every year. In 2023, the motto was "Inspiring an Inclusive Future".
Together with Lehigh University, TU Dortmund University successfully applied to participate in the poster fair at NAFSA with the topic "Internationalizing the Campus" with the poster "Transatlantic Staff Development through Cross-Cultural Engagement" - a unique opportunity to present the "Global Staff Fellows Program" to a broad interested professional audience.
Julia Pehle from TU Dortmund University's International Office and Stacy Burger, Director Global Partnerships and Strategic Initiatives in the Office of International Affairs at Lehigh University presented the results and effects of the program for the participants and exchanged ideas with interested visitors about this best practice approach.