Advocacy & Being a Champion for the Institution's Mission
February 9, 2024
In this 4:08 video, Jill Blondin, the Senior International Officer at VCU, emphasizes the importance of continuous advocacy for internationalization. As an advocate for students, faculty, and staff, Jill believes that her most important role is championing the institution's mission and promoting global engagement.
From a podcast interview with Jill Blondin, Ph.D., Associate Vice Provost at Virginia Commonwealth University and SIO of the Year.
“My role at the institution as the Senior International Officer is as an advocate, it is the hat I never take off. Without question, the most important part of my job is that advocacy piece.”
In today’s interconnected world, the role of internationalization in higher education has never been more important. As institutions strive to prepare students for a globalized workforce and foster a diverse and inclusive campus community, the need for advocacy becomes paramount. In a recent podcast interview with Jill Blondin, the Senior International Officer at Virginia Commonwealth University and SIO of the year, we delved into the significance of advocacy in driving internationalization initiatives and garnering the necessary resources and budget. We will explore the key themes discussed during our conversation, highlighting the importance of continuous advocacy, the role of the senior international officer, and the impact of strategic communication.
When advocating for internationalization, it is crucial to understand that it is not a one-time effort.
According to Jill, “It is definitely not a one-and-done. It’s not. You made your case once, and then it’s smooth sailing from there on out.”
Advocacy for internationalization requires a continuous commitment to champion the institution's mission, its faculty, and its overall goals.
Jill emphasizes the multifaceted nature of her role as the senior international officer, stating, “I advocate for students, I advocate for staff, and I advocate for faculty. I advocate for campus-wide internationalization writ large.”
This comprehensive approach ensures that all stakeholders are considered and that the benefits of internationalization are maximized for the entire institution.
“My role at the institution as the Senior International Officer is as an advocate. My job is continual advocacy. Without question, the most important part of my job is that advocacy piece.”
As the senior international officer, Blondin sees herself as the advocate-in-chief for internationalization at her institution. She describes her role as setting the tone for the critical importance of internationalization on campus and continuously advocating for its integration into all aspects of the institution.
Jill humorously remarks, “Anytime someone even brings the word international or global on my campus, I come running.” This lighthearted statement underscores the constant advocacy required to ensure that internationalization remains a priority.
Jill’s advocacy extends beyond students to encompass faculty, administrators, and staff. She believes that the success of internationalization depends on maximizing the potential of everyone involved and aligning their outcomes with the institution’s goals. By wearing many hats and never removing the hat of advocacy, Blondin ensures that internationalization remains at the forefront of discussions and decision-making processes.
To advocate for internationalization, strategic alignment and communication are key. Jill emphasizes the importance of making a compelling case and telling the stories of those who have benefited from international programming opportunities.
She states, “I think that really making the case and telling the stories of students who’ve benefited, faculty and staff who benefited from the type of programming opportunities that we have is a way to make that case.”
However, Jill recognizes that communication is not a one-way street. It involves reaching out to a multitude of stakeholders, both internal and external, and ensuring that the message is effectively conveyed.
She stresses the significance of communication as part of the strategic alignment required for successful internationalization.
“To me, the success of internationalization, if I had to boil it down, I boil it down in two parts. One is strategic alignment, and part of that is communication.”
The implications of continuous advocacy and strategic communication in higher education internationalization are far-reaching. Senior international officers like JIll Blondin can secure the necessary resources and budget to support initiatives by championing the institution's mission and advocating for internationalization. This, in turn, enables institutions to provide students with transformative international experiences and prepare them for a globalized workforce.
Furthermore, the impact of strategic communication extends beyond the immediate benefits of internationalization. By effectively communicating the value and impact of internationalization initiatives, institutions can attract and retain top talent, enhance their reputation, and foster partnerships with other institutions and organizations. Senior international officers' continuous advocacy and strategic communication efforts play a crucial role in positioning institutions as leaders in the global higher education landscape.
The importance of advocacy in higher education internationalization cannot be overstated. Continuous advocacy, led by senior international officers, ensures that internationalization remains a priority and receives the necessary resources and budget. Strategic alignment and communication are essential to successful advocacy, allowing institutions to make a compelling case and engage stakeholders at all levels.
Looking ahead, the future of higher education internationalization relies on the commitment and dedication of advocates like Jill Blondin. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the need for globally competent graduates and inclusive campus communities will continue to grow. By championing the mission of their institutions and advocating for internationalization, senior international officers can shape the future of higher education and prepare students for success in an ever-changing world.