A new senior vice provost for global engagement and chief international officer has been appointed to oversee the International Office and strengthen UT’s global presence on and off campus.
Sonia Feigenbaum will begin work in February and leave her current role at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an associate vice chancellor supervising the university’s international initiatives. While some universities have already established this position, Feigenbaum will be UT’s first chief international officer.
“My plan is to … listen, to discover UT-Austin, to be inquisitive and to build partnerships across campus so multiple visions can be co-created and executed toward a common goal, which is to advance the mission of UT-Austin,” Feigenbaum said.
Feigenbaum held a similar position at Brown University and worked as an executive in the U.S. Department of Education. She emigrated from France when she was 12 years old and currently holds dual citizenship.
“I was an international student myself, so there’s a bit of a shared experience and a common understanding that (as) an international student, you come from a very different background … so your experiences will be different,” Feigenbaum said. “The goal is to ensure these students feel part of the fabric of the institution of UT.”
This position was established after the Global Engagement Task Force recommended it last year and an operational review for the International Office echoed this recommendation. Feigenbaum’s appointment was announced last Tuesday.
“We’re excited Dr. Feigenbaum will be able to bring her skills and expertise from her leadership as a senior international officer and be able to think about this new chapter of UT’s piece of global engagement and advancing internationalization on campus in substantive and collaborative ways,” said Teri Albrecht, interim executive director for the International Office.
Feigenbaum said she is excited to promote strong communication among students in an international context.
“If we develop intercultural competency, if we as individuals try to understand where someone else is coming from a cultural perspective … we will be able to tackle very difficult questions and we’ll be able to better understand ourselves,” Feigenbaum said.
Romelle Johnson, a peer adviser at the International Office, said he is optimistic about potential new international opportunities.
“I really appreciate what the study abroad office does for students, and if she increases global outreach for students, that would be a benefit,” psychology junior Johnson said.