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Center for International Higher Education Welcomes New Director

03/26/15
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Hans de Wit

By Ed Hayward | Chronicle Staff

Published: Mar. 26, 2015

Hans de Wit, a respected authority on global issues in higher education, has been named the director of the Center for International Higher Education at the Lynch School of Education, Lynch School Dean Maureen Kenny has announced.

A native of the Netherlands, where his career as an administrator, researcher and teacher has spanned three decades, de Wit will join the Lynch School from the Universita Cattolica Sacro Coure in Milan, Italy, where he has served as the founding director of the Center for Higher Education Internationalisation.

“The Lynch School is very excited to welcome Dr. Hans de Wit to our campus, as a faculty member in higher education and as the director of the Center for International Higher Education,” Kenny said. “He is a globally recognized scholar in the internationalization of higher education. He also brings extensive experience in program development and administration that will facilitate our reach across our campus, the nation, and to universities worldwide, including the wide network of Jesuit and catholic institutions.”

De Wit takes over leadership of CIHE from Research Professor Philip Altbach, the J. Donald Monan, SJ, University Professor of Higher Education until his retirement in 2013. Altbach has continued to serve as director at CIHE, which he has led since he joined BC in 1994.

Altbach praised the selection of de Wit, who has worked in academic posts, governmental consultancies and research initiatives since the 1970s.

“Hans is without question ‘Mr. Internationalization’ in the world of higher education,” said Altbach. “He basically invented the field. He founded the most influential journal in the field, and established a program on higher education internationalization at the Catholic University of Milan that quickly became quite successful. He is an influential spokesperson for what I might call ‘thoughtful internationalization.’

“Hans is well positioned to take [the center] into our next decade with ideas and energy,” said Altbach

De Wit said he’s excited to return to BC, where he spent time in 1994 while on sabbatical writing an analysis of international higher education for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“I feel at home [at BC] and the CIHE is very close to my research interests and the work the center does is fascinating to me,” said de Wit. “Knowing that inspired me to go for it.”

In addition to his work directing the center in Milan, de Wit maintains a teaching role at the University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam, conducts research at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and is currently leading a study of internationalization of higher education for the European Parliament.

De Wit also has focused on the comparative study of higher education around the globe, particularly on the developing nations of Africa and South America.

“I have been interested in how developing countries can formulate their own higher education policies, not just act based on what has happened in America or Europe,” said de Wit. “Developing countries can find their own way. They don’t need to simply copy our systems. My work has focused on helping countries develop their own interests and their own focus.”

De Wit said he’s excited to build on the success of CIHE, which has examined changes in higher education around the world, particularly in populous nations like Russia, China and India. Research has focused on topics ranging from market demand to the influence of corruption on academic institutions. The center publishes International Higher Education, a 20-year-old publication now read in 149 countries and translated into Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese. [For more on CIHE, see www.bc.edu/cihe.]

“We want to build on CIHE’s successes and look at how we can develop some new research initiatives, as well as some new opportunities for teaching,” said de Wit. “I see opportunities for collaborative research and an opportunity to look at the relationship between the internationalization of Catholic universities and Catholic identity.”