The University of New Orleans enjoyed a visit last week from the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Evan Ryan, who spoke for one hour at a roundtable discussion on study abroad and international exchange, with particular emphasis on the popular Gilman and Fulbright educational scholarships.
Assistant Secretary Ryan also discussed the impending launch of a new office dedicated to U.S. Study Abroad within the U.S. Department of State that will include new programming and initiatives, as well as address the importance of language study, particularly of languages deemed critical to national security, diversifying participation and destinations in study abroad, and setting and maintaining national standards for study abroad.
“This was a fantastic opportunity for the University of New Orleans, where we have championed study abroad programs for more than 40 years,” said Alea Cot, assistant vice president for international education at UNO. “It was a wonderful honor to host a national leader on educational and cultural affairs in our new International Center, which celebrated its grand opening in January. The entire UNO community benefits from such a visit -- especially our many international students and scholars, who serve as ambassadors while studying and teaching abroad.”
Evan Ryan assumed her position as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) on Sept. 26, 2013, according to her bio. She oversees a wide range of academic, cultural, private sector, professional, youth, and sports exchange programs to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries and promote peaceful relations.
ECA exchange programs engage youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and emerging leaders in more than 160 countries and in the U.S. More than one million people have participated to date in ECA exchange programs — they include more than 50 Nobel Laureates and over 350 current and former heads of state and government.
Ryan addressed a crowd in the student lounge of the UNO International Center, which opened in January. The Assistant Secretary discussed public diplomacy and U.S. foreign policy through the lens of international exchange.
The University of New Orleans is a home away from home for more than 800 international students who make up more than eight percent of the student body. Moreover, UNO is a leader in international study abroad programs. The University leads international student exchange programs in Australia, Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Spain and Turkey. UNO also leads summer study abroad programs in Austria, Italy, Ireland, The Czech Republic, Costa Rica, France, and Japan.
For more than 40 years, UNO has enjoyed a sister agreement with the University of Innsbruck, Austria, where students from all over the U.S. spend summers, semesters or even full years studying abroad through the University's flagship UNO-Innsbruck program.
Ryan served in the White House as Assistant to the Vice President and Special Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement. In this role she served as the Vice President’s liaison to elected officials and constituency groups. Previously, Ryan was a Consultant for the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict.
In 2005, she served as Deputy Chair for the Governance track of the Clinton Global Initiative. From 2003 to early 2004, she served as a Deputy Director of Communications for the John Kerry for President Campaign, and before that she served as the Director of Scheduling for Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senatorial campaign.
Ryan previously served in the White House from 1994-2000, including as Deputy Director of Scheduling for First Lady Hillary Clinton and as Special Assistant to the First Lady’s Chief of Staff. She served on the Board of Directors of Peace Players International from 2003 to 2008. She was a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations from 2008 to 2013.
Assistant Secretary Ryan, a Virginia native, holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a Master’s degree in International Public Policy from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.