Global Engagement Solutions for Higher Education


Digital Databases: Critical to NextGen Strategic Planning

June 11, 2024


From a podcast interview with Grant Chapman, an experienced global engagement and international education professional with over 30 years of experience. Grant is a Fulbright Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa member.

“This digital database or international inventory is a big part of our NextGen strategic plan for university-provided funding relating directly to initiatives for engagements and partnerships.”


Global engagement and international education have become increasingly important for universities in today's interconnected world. However, not all institutions prioritize these aspects as much as they should. This article will explore the significance of global engagement and international education and how universities can effectively advocate for them. We will focus on the efforts of Kansas State University in creating a digital database to measure and showcase their initiatives. By doing so, they set an example for other institutions.

The Need for Comprehensive Data

When it comes to global engagement and international education, universities need to have a clear understanding of their current initiatives and future goals. Grant Chapman, the Senior International Officer at Kansas State University, recognized this need and began to gather comprehensive data about the university’s international activities. He realized that it would be challenging to advocate for global engagement without this knowledge.

Chapman explains,  

“I know what’s in my mind, but I don’t know everything that Kansas State University is doing. I know that all of our units are doing wonderful things, and a lot of them are collaborating with entities outside the U.S.”

This realization led to creating an international inventory, a digital database that would provide a holistic view of the university’s global engagement efforts.

Bridging Silos and Gaps of Information

One of the challenges in gathering comprehensive data for a university is the existence of silos and gaps of information. Different departments and units may have their initiatives and partnerships, but these efforts are often not connected or easily accessible. To address this issue, Kansas State University’s international inventory aims to bridge these silos and gaps by creating a centralized hub of information.

Chapman acknowledges the complexity of this task, stating,  

“All universities are complex, but I think it’s needed, and most universities do try to have some sort of partnership database or agreement database. We’re trying to take that as just one component and talk about what we should measure, why we should measure, how does this support our stories, our impactful stories of engagement in general.”

By combining all the relevant data into a single digital database, the university can have a comprehensive view of its global engagement efforts.

The Role of the Senior International Officer

Creating and maintaining a digital database of international initiatives is no small feat. It requires the expertise and dedication of a Senior International Officer (SIO) who can navigate the complexities of the task. The SIO not only has to be well-versed in international education but also takes on the role of a Chief Information Officer (CIO) to ensure the database’s success.

As the SIO of Kansas State University, Grant Chapman understands the importance of leveraging technology to streamline the process. He states,  

“I’m hoping the digital world and the new world with AI and others can streamline and automate a lot of the knowledge so that the SIO can use this tool to be informed when I’m asked about Kansas State University.”

By harnessing technology, the SIO can access the necessary information quickly and efficiently, enabling them to advocate for global engagement effectively.

Implications and Potential Impact

Creating a digital database for global engagement initiatives has far-reaching implications for universities. By having comprehensive data, universities can better understand their strengths and weaknesses in international education. This knowledge allows them to make informed decisions about future partnerships, research opportunities, and student recruitment strategies.

Furthermore, the digital database is a powerful storytelling and advocacy tool. While personal stories of students’ transformative experiences are essential, having concrete data to support these narratives adds credibility and impact. Grant Chapman emphasizes the importance of data in storytelling, stating,

“We need to know what we’re currently doing… how does this support our stories, our impactful stories of engagement in general.” 

The digital database provides universities with the evidence they need to showcase the value of global engagement and international education.


In this article, we have explored the importance of global engagement and international education for universities. We have seen how Kansas State University is leading the way in creating a digital database to measure and showcase its initiatives. By gathering comprehensive data and bridging silos, universities can better advocate for global engagement and make informed decisions about their future endeavors.

The role of the Senior International Officer is crucial in this process as they navigate the complexities of creating and maintaining the digital database. Leveraging technology and AI can streamline the process and provide the SIO with the necessary information to advocate for global engagement.

Creating a digital database for global engagement initiatives has the potential to revolutionize how universities approach international education. By harnessing the power of data and storytelling, universities can showcase the impact of global engagement and inspire future generations of students to embrace the world as their classroom.

To catch the full interview with Grant, CLICK HERE.