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Kerry Geffert
Product Evangelist, Terra Dotta

The safety of our travelers is paramount for those of us in international education. Each professional or institution develops a list of resources which become the bases for recommendations and decisions regarding student, faculty and staff travel. One common resource is the Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website, and their Travel Warning and Travel Alerts.


While a common resource for most of us, use of the Bureau’s website information has not been without its challenges. Differences among the various DOS safety and security messages was not always easily understood, leading to confusion regarding actions to take. Warnings issued for an entire country may not have allowed for regional differences in safety levels, Mexico being an example that proved challenging for many border state institutions. Such consternation soon should be reduced with a major change to the Bureau’s Consular Advisory System.

Read the full article >


In September 2016, Lisa Tauferner joined the Terra Dotta family as a Client Support Specialist. Her daily responsibilities entail supporting new and existing clients in implementing and managing their Terra Dotta software sites. She also provides Professional Services, such as administrative services, tune-ups, and on-site training with existing clients. Lisa has also been known to host the occasional webinar, such as an upcoming webinar on communication tools in TDS.

Before joining Terra Dotta, Lisa worked in international education as an advisor and assistant director for Texas A&M University-College Station’s Study Abroad Programs office as well as for International Studies Abroad (ISA). She even taught German for a semester at the University of Wisconsin-Madison! Lisa has also worked as a yoga and meditation instructor since 2001.

Lisa earned her Bachelor of Arts in German from the University of Texas at Austin and her Master of Arts in History from Texas A&M University-College Station. She also participated in the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange program in eastern Germany during her junior year of high school.

Outside of work, Lisa enjoys travelling; spending time outdoors, especially stargazing; reading about history and science; as well as volunteering and training in massage therapy. One travel plan Lisa would like to accomplish is to combine Spanish language immersion with volunteering abroad, specifically with natural habitat and wildlife rehabilitation!

Lisa says her favorite part of working at Terra Dotta is “My wonderful colleagues! Their vast array of experience and insights support me considerably in helping our clients.”


Software creation requires a combination of vision, creativity, and technical knowledge. We hope you see that in our various software solutions. We receive inspiration from our clients through the Terra Dotta client Idea Forum. The Forum is the best vehicle for us to receive feedback about what clients like, what they would like to see improved, and ideas clients have for enhancements.

When TD staff gather for our annual All Staff Meeting, we do the same – talk about what we like and where we are making improvements. But it is the enhancements topic that really gets our juices going! For the third year in a row, teams competed to see who could conceptualize and prototype the best enhancement to our software. Each team of 6-7 persons had representatives from the major TD departments – Development, Support, Professional and Administrative Services, Sales and Marketing. In less than 48 hours, teams went from concept to sales pitch – all while attending other meetings. The competition was fierce!

In past years, winning ideas have led to an enhanced simple search feature and the program wizard just released in sandbox sites. Last month, our executive team picked two ideas for the top spots in the competition:

How many times have you found yourself searching for something located in folders like Question Items, Images, and Document Center? You probably end up sifting through pages of information in your quest. With the expansion of the Keyword Search, you can find your results in a few clicks. By adding a search bar for question items, images and the document center, current search capabilities will be extended to include results that are stored in these folders. This expansion will allow users to easily find their sought-for items instead of searching through individual folders or pages of information. This new feature will save time for anyone who manages or administers TDS.

More and more higher education institutions are relying on agents to help with international admissions, but may not have an efficient, integrated method to track agent-submitted applications. The Agent Access Portal will be a plug-in to help ease this administrative burden and streamline the process from application to initial I-20 issuance to arrival on campus. The portal will allow an agent to submit application materials electronically on behalf of a student. Completed applications then will be routed to the institution’s TD site for review, decision, and I-20 issuance. The agent will be able to track applications submitted, including their status and the institution, term and year to which the application applies.

Congratulations to both teams on their enhancement ideas! Clients can look forward to seeing these enhancements in future releases.



Presenter: Sakiba Dzelil & Aaron Rhoney

In this webinar, we will demonstrate the exciting changes made to Terra Dotta Software with the TDS 18.0 release. We will cover everything you need to know to make the most of the new and updated functionality. This includes the new Program Wizard functionality and reviewer access to attached documents.

4:00 PM EDT

Presenter: Chelsea Weaver

This webinar will cover the tasks and workflow functionality of Terra Dotta software and is ideal for advanced users looking to streamline their office processes. The presenter will cover how to configure tasks and task lists, as well as, how to create and trigger a workflow. By the end of the webinar, the attendee should come away with an understanding of how to automate the delegation of tasks to make their processes work like a well-oiled machine.

4:00 PM EDT

Presenter: Don White

Communication tools abound in TDS! From the user's initial access to the myriad of ways TDS automates notifications to users, clients can choose from a number of tools to manage how information is conveyed to users throughout their interaction with TDS. This webinar will detail some of the existing tools available as well as new features added for notifications. Whether you are a new user to the communication tools in TDS or a more seasoned user who wishes to streamline and refine your communication with users, this webinar will share ideas on how to utilize these wonderful resources in TDS.

4:00 PM EDT

Presenter: Aaron Rhoney

Always have someone knocking on your office door? We can help! In this webinar, we will discuss how to set up and utilize Terra Dotta Software's appointment system. You'll learn how to create your staff page, set your appointment availability, and manage your appointments.

4:00 PM EDT

Don’t miss your chance to participate in the learning event of 2018. The Annual Terra Dotta Global User Conference (TDU Global) is a jam-packed, 2-day event designed to build your skills and inspire ideas for your Terra Dotta software (TDS) site. Here is a sneak peek at what you can expect:

  • Keynote Speaker at the Opening Plenary
  • Tech Talk - Two 1-hour open sessions with Brendan Haggerty (CTO), Garrett Christian (CSO), and Tim Wojoski (Dir of Product Dev)
  • TD Future - Two 1-hour open sessions with Brandon Lee (CEO), Cheryl Boeckman (SVP), and Susan Young (CFO)
  • Table Top Exercises on risk situations with risk experts from iJet
  • TDS Guru Sign-Ups for one-on-one Q&A with a TD professional
  • Study Abroad, ISSS, & Travel/Risk Management Session Tracks to meet your specific needs, which include topics such as “Recently Released Features in the Real World,” “The Rainbow Connection: Utilizing RTI Connect to Manage Your Student Data,” & “Introduction to Travel Registry”


Between printed and online materials, it can be daunting to keep up with the professional literature. Let us help you. Each month we will list several online articles that we hope you will find interesting.

Find an article that you believe others will want to read? Send the link to! Here are some to get you started:

Helping HR Care for the Business Traveler
From Workforce Magazine

A global recognition convention for academic mobility
From University World News

China ‘will teach 500,000 international students by 2020’
From Times Higher Education

Will global online education ever take off?
From the International Education Association of Australia

42% of parents would consider study abroad for children, says HSBC report
From The PIE News

As Flow of Foreign Students Wanes, U.S. Universities Feel the Sting
From The New York Times


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