A ‘Quandt-um’ leap in
Bill Quandt wraps up successful tenure as U.Va.’s
first vice provost for international affairs
by Andrew Shurtleff
B. Quandt is credited with nearly doubling the number of U.Va.
students who study abroad.
By Elizabeth Kiem
A quantum leap in international
activity has occurred at the University, thanks to the direction
of William B. Quandt.
Since becoming vice provost for international affairs in 2000,
Bill Quandt — who steps down from the office Jan. 1 —
propel the institution toward its Virginia 2020 strategic planning
goal of creating an “international university.” Once
lagging behind peer institutions in international activities,
the University is now regularly sending Virginia students overseas,
hosting foreign scholars on Grounds and developing and coordinating
other types of activities and services designed to create and
enhance a globally aware, culturally diverse education and research
In the three years since the
Virginia 2020 commission laid out primary objectives for the University,
the number of U.Va. students enrolled in study-abroad programs
has nearly doubled, with 34 percent of the 2003 graduating class
having participated in some form of educational or research activity
direct U.Va.-credited programs are now offered beyond
national borders, and some of them are so popular that they are
being offered in duplicate. This summer an anticipated 50 students
will travel to Shanghai alone for culture and language, and hundreds
more will be flocking to South Africa, Australia, Spain and beyond.
Studies Office: A Valuable Compass
When it comes to questions about overseas study, ISO
has the answers
Serving more than 1,000 U.Va. students studying abroad and
1,600 foreign scholars on Grounds is the job of the International
Studies Office, located in Minor Hall. Its staff responds
to individual needs, including questions about visas, travel
and academic credits for overseas study. Many questions
can be found online at the ISO web site www.virginia.edu/iso.
Under Study Abroad, www.virginia.edu/iso/study
abroad/prosprograms.html, students can read about semester
programs in London, Lyon, Lima and Valencia, or about shorter
programs in Australia, China and South America. The site
offers answers to frequently asked questions, dispels common
myths, outlines steps for applying and offers financial
and scholarship information. It also provides contact information
for program representatives and faculty and links to government
The link to the International Students and Scholars Program,
provides visitors with complete visa information, helpfully
organized by visa type. Work rules for foreign students,
as well as forms for advisers of foreign students, are posted.
University employers can also access information on obtaining
work visas for international employees here. Parents of
international students will find links to the office of
the Vice Provost for International Affairs, as well as to
other relevant U.Va. departments and offices.
The ISO also administers the Lorna Sundberg International
Center, found online at www.virginia.edu/iso/ic/.
The center provides a comfortable and dynamic forum for
exploring the world’s cultures through speakers’
series, language programs, library services, field trips
who joined the faculty in 1994 and holds the Edward R. Stettinius
Professorship of Politics, says he is pleased with the upward
spike in study-abroad enrollment and is optimistic that the University
will see half of all its students involved in some form of foreign
study abroad within a decade.
To facilitate this booming interest in study abroad, Quandt has
transformed the International Studies Office from a little-known
destination in Minor Hall to a humming headquarters with a staff
of 14. “You wouldn’t recognize us,” said ISO
director Rebecca Brown of the changes since her arrival two and
a half years ago.
T. Casteen III credits the vice provost for enacting changes that
both expanded and simplified the process for students and faculty
alike. Quandt “has led in resolving ancient bureaucratic
regulations that formerly penalized students for studying abroad,”
Casteen said. “He has engaged faculty members in new ways.
And through it all, he has been wise, cordial to one and all,
and totally committed to educating students to live and lead in
the world to which they will go after graduation.”
increase in overseas study is just one of a number of successes
overseen by Quandt. With a modest annual budget of about $175,000,
he has also supported projects from virtually every school —
each representing visions of varying scope and expense.
Prior to the creation of his position, Quandt said, there was
no obvious University official to solicit when a student or professor
wanted to move forward with an international project. “I
have a tendency to say ‘yes’ if people have good ideas,”
he said. “So instead of seeing [my position] as a roadblock,
they saw that all of a sudden they could get a quicker and more
responsive answer than perhaps they were used to.”
Dr. Richard L. Guerrant, professor of international medicine,
was among the first faculty members to visit the new vice provost
for international affairs at his Booker House office and talk
to him about his vision for a center that would address issues
related to health around the world. Quandt recognized the value
of a multidisciplinary program for international research of this
sort and moved quickly to build on Guerrant’s proposal to
create a Center for Global Health at U.Va.
“I had, since the first of Casteen’s commissions,
been tenaciously looking forward to seeing the University address
global health issues,” said Guerrant. “Quandt has
helped put us on the University’s agenda.”
Since its creation two years ago, the Center for Global Health
has been bringing together scholars and students from across the
University to study and address issues of poverty and public health
in developing nations. It has granted more than two dozen scholarships
to undergraduates to conduct research projects in the Third World.
Quandt says the center is one of the finest examples of his office
at work, and he expects it to be “a model for other universities.”
Another project that Quandt singled out for commendation
is the International Residential College. Conceived as a home
for international students, the four dorms instead have also become
a home for American students. Half of the residents at the international
college are U.S. citizens, seeking to broaden their cultural horizons
in their living environment.
At the recommendation of Quandt’s office, the University
has also added residential housing for students who want to practice
Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Hebrew — languages that are
typically less popular with U.Va. students.
Currently, U.Va. hosts about 1,600 international students and
scholars. This number has held steady over the past few years
and is effectively capped by the University’s need to maintain
present in-state and out-of-state student ratios. If the number
of international students “expands very much,” Quandt
said, “it will be at the expense of a very large number
of American students” who want to attend the University
and who live out-of-state. He notes that an increasing number
of in-state students have foreign backgrounds, which is due largely
to the diverse immigrant communities of Northern Virginia.
Still, there is one group of foreign scholars that Quandt would
very much like to see in bigger attendance on Grounds: Those who
study America. “American Studies overseas is quite a big
deal; every major European country has an American Studies program
at its universities,” he said.
Unfortunately, Quandt’s vision to create an International
Institute of American Studies, which would establish U.Va. as
the principal locus for scholars of American Studies in foreign
universities, remains his single disappointment. Last year, he
and other U.Va. faculty members attempted to secure a government
grant that would allow the University to host an international
summer-long seminar in American Studies, but despite their intensive
efforts, they did not win the grant. The American Studies institute
is now on hold until some new major funding opportunity arises,
At the International Studies Office, however, nothing is on hold,
Brown said. “We’re kind of moving into a different
stage, not just because of Bill’s transition, but because
it’s the natural order of things.”
Quandt’s successor as vice provost for international affairs
is pediatrics professor Dr. Leigh Grossman. She will oversee the
ISO’s next stage of growth. “Of course, we’ll
miss Bill a great deal, but the timing is pretty good,”
As for Quandt, he begins a 12-month sabbatical in January. “The
nice thing is, I don’t actually have to decide what I’m
going to do,” Quandt said when asked about his plans. He
did add, however, that he intends to spend several months abroad,
in the Middle East.