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During the 2019 NAFSA Annual Conference, Terra Dotta was pleased to continue its support of thought leadership in international education by sponsoring two Global Partner sessions - one on the topic of risk management and one on international student services. Since not everyone was able to attend the NAFSA Annual Conference (and even if you did attend, you couldn't attend everything), we want to share the content of these well-received sessions with our readers.

Risk Management
Our risk session was entitled “Impact of Technology on University International Travel Policies.” In many cases, preventing problems is a complex interplay of factors and stakeholders. But one thing is certain; pretending that nothing unfortunate will happen is not the way to prevent disaster. A good travel risk management plan does not depend upon luck. It depends a great deal on getting the right message to the right person at the right time.

Colleges and universities understand the need for, and support of, a comprehensive travel risk management program. Most of this acceptance has occurred in response to increased numbers of students and faculty traveling abroad to more remote locations, more incidents of terrorism, and the overall changing political landscape. And, in travel risk management, size does not matter. Institutions of all sizes and complexities understand the need to protect not only the traveler but also the reputation and financial viability of their institution. Technology plays a vital role supporting and delivering tools and information necessary to keep travelers informed and safe.

Our session provided guidance for risks associated with travel to, and study in, program locations which must be addressed thoroughly to ensure that the organization has thought about and covered all possible aspects related to program safety. Moderated by Elaine Del Rossi, Terra Dotta’s Vice President of Risk Solutions, it featured panelists Aaron Clevenger from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Patrick Morgan from the University of Michigan and Gary Rhodes from California State University at Dominguez Hills. The discussion included an overview of a mature and newly installed travel risk management program and technology’s role in supporting those programs. Patrick’s presentation included the importance of using technology to define the geographic scope/footprint of travelers and how those footprints align with the risk profiles of those locations. Aaron discussed technological considerations when forming travel policies and the importance of having that as part of an organization’s Duty of Care. Gary closed the presentation with ways in which technology can assist in providing training programs and critical information to travelers.

If you would like to learn more about the presentation, you can view the slide deck or contact Elaine at

International Students
Terra Dotta’s second sponsored session was entitled “The Financial Implications of Supporting OPT Students.” Focused on an important discussion in the field pertaining to international student fees and their use in supporting students on Optional Practical Training (OPT), the session addressed the financial implications of supporting F-1 students on post-completion and STEM OPT and discussed the various models and strategies utilized by international offices to meet their financial, structural and compliance related requirements.

Moderated by Terra Dotta's Travis Ulrich, the session featured panelists, Tami Renner from Creighton University, Tarek Elshayeb from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Ravi Ammigan from the University of Delaware, and Kara Johnson from Governors State University. Each panelist provided insights on how to meet the challenges of supporting OPT students while outlining strategic approaches to securing the necessary resources needed to maintain high levels of student support. To further inform the discussion, the session concluded by reviewing the qualitative results of an anonymous survey, administered prior to the conference, in which institutions reported on their OPT student population and any fees leveraged to provide support to this community of students. Some of the key findings of the survey were:

  • Institutions are leveraging fees to fund staff to support OPT/STEM students
  • Many institutions report not leveraging OPT fees, but are looking to adopt fees
  • Advocating to administration for resources is a challenge
  • OPT/STEM has significantly increased the workload for international offices, and
  • There is a desire to automate and leverage technology to decrease administrative burdens.

Through lively discussion, strategic insights, and qualitative analysis, the session provided an insightful platform for attendees to explore the financial implications of supporting students on OPT. Key takeaways for participants included synthesizing effective advocacy strategies to secure administrative support and resources, identifying various models of support leveraged by international offices to support students on OPT, articulating the costs and benefits of leveraging fees to support students on OPT, and leveraging technology to elevate OPT student support while decreasing administrative burden.

If you would like to learn more about this presentation, you can view the slide deck or contact Travis at

Thank you to our knowledgeable presenters and those who were able to attend and lend their insights into the valuable discussions!


In July 2018, Wes Madocks joined Terra Dotta as our Sales Development Specialist. Wes’ daily responsibilities include serving as the first point of contact for international education offices to investigate how Terra Dotta software can help with their processes and working closely with our marketing team to work on projects and campaigns to increase interest in our software.

Before joining Terra Dotta, Wes held positions as an Account Executive at J.G. Wentworth and an insurance broker. Wes transitioned to higher education thanks to the inspiration of his father, who was also in higher education.

Outside of work, Wes enjoys hitting the gym during the week and playing golf, hiking in parks around Philadelphia, and riding his bike along the Schuylkill River on the weekends. One vacation spot Wes would like to visit is Indonesia. Also, he and his sister have always wanted to go skydiving, and they are finally doing so this summer!

Wes says his favorite part of working at Terra Dotta is “the culture. I’ve worked at companies where different departments didn’t communicate. Here, however, everyone is extremely friendly and works collaboratively across teams.”


How does the song go? “Summertime, and the living is easy.” An apt description of summer in most international education offices…said no international educator ever! However, the somewhat relaxed scheduling of the summer term does allow for some flexibility. So what better time to get some training underway for you and/or your staff?

This summer, Terra Dotta is offering three opportunities for you and your staff to enhance your knowledge of your software. Both new and experienced users will have opportunities to boost their skills, and for the first time, be able to receive that training without having to leave the office. Check out these opportunities:

Virtual Workshop: Program Wizard Brochures
This new offering is for those study abroad offices interested in updating their program brochures to the new Program Wizard, but just haven’t quite made a plan for moving forward. Imagine starting the 2019-2020 academic year with a new look and feel to your TDS program brochures! Here is your chance!

The workshop is a two-week, online program designed for clients who have a TDS license for study abroad, already have a basic understanding of program building in TDS, and who are interested in making major progress towards refreshing the look and feel of their non-Directory program brochures utilizing the Program Wizard. Participants will receive training and coaching in a personalized setting, utilizing a mixture of demonstration, practice exercises, hands-on development, individual meetings, and group work – all from the convenience of their office.

Workshop dates are July 8-19, 2019. For more information on expectations and registration, please click here. The registration deadline is Monday, July 1, 2019.

Virtual Workshop: Scholar Module
Another new offering, this workshop focuses on implementing the Scholar Module, providing tools to help you streamline your sponsorship and onboarding process for international scholars and employees. You will be able to initiate J-1 scholar and H-1B employee records, loop in host departments and faculty to contribute to moving scholars through your processes, and give prospective scholars access to your online scholar record management.

The workshop is a two-week, online program designed for clients who have a TDS license for ISSS and are interested in a fast-paced, structured and intensive workshop to accelerate the implementation of the Scholar Module on their campus. Participants will receive training and coaching in a personalized setting, utilizing a mixture of demonstration, practice exercises, hands-on development, individual meetings, and group work – all from the convenience of their office.

Workshop dates are July 22-August 2, 2019. For more information on expectations and registration, please click here. The registration deadline is Monday, July 15, 2019.

Terra Dotta Study Abroad Boot Camp
Boot Camp is a two-day, hands-on, immersive workshop designed to rapidly build the skills of a Terra Dotta administrator. Each participant will start with a blank copy of the software and wind up with a complete site similar to those used in real world applications. As an added bonus, participants receive access to their own Terra Dotta practice site for 30 days to build on their training. Experienced instructors will guide “campers” through exercises that teach core features for building a site, and completing daily tasks and processes.

Study Abroad Boot Camp will be July 23-24, 2019, on the campus of the University of Colorado Boulder in Boulder, CO. For more information, as well as registration and cost information, click here. Register by the deadline of Monday, July 15, 2019.

Terra Dotta ISSS Boot Camp
New ISSS users, we haven’t forgotten you! Plans are being finalized for an ISSS Boot Camp this fall. Details will be forthcoming.


Go Culture International provides colleges and universities with a streamlined method to enhance student intercultural competence. After serving over 3,000 clients representing work in over 40 countries, Go Culture’s proven online assessment in 15 aptitudes, journaling portfolios, coaching videos, cohort faculty-student evaluations, and more have consistently enhanced global citizenship. The integration with Terra Dotta allows administrators to quickly apply Go Culture assessments to prep campus students to maximize study abroad experiences and assist international students to successfully navigate cross-cultural transition.

“From their effortless implementation and integration to their professional and supportive customer service, Go Culture is an ideal partner to help you reach your cultural coaching and assessment goals! We couldn’t be more excited to be collaborating with Go Culture,” states Daniel F. Diaz, Director & International Student Advisor at Guilford College.

“We are proud to be working hand-in-hand with Terra Dotta to bring the next phase of innovative, web-based international education programming to students. Terra Dotta has a long pedigree of serving administrators who strive daily to bring top-notch programming to their campus internationalization initiatives. At Go Culture we are honored to play a small role,” said Dr. Justin Velten, President and CoFounder of Go Culture International.

For more information on Go Culture and other TD Connect partners, visit our Partners page.

  conference schedule  

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 or reports 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:

Survey shows study abroad decision process is changing, with more factors at play
From ICEF Monitor

The Shape of Global Higher Education: International Comparisons with Europe
From the British Council

US ushers in huge hike in SEVIS fee charged to international students
From The PIE News

More American Students Need To Study Abroad: Here's How Congress Can Help
From Forbes

China warns against traveling to the U.S., citing ‘shootings, robberies and theft’
From The Washington Post

National association of US study state consortia launched at NAFSA
From The PIE News

  article roundup

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