Global Engagement Solutions for Higher Education


SIO Rating: The Vital Importance of IE Digital Databases

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.

“Digital databases for international education are a 9 out of 10 if designed and used correctly. This is a game-changer. This is foundational.”


In today’s digital age, universities increasingly rely on digital databases to store and manage vast amounts of knowledge and information. These databases have become essential tools for serving the university populations and supporting the institution's mission. In a recent conversation with Grant Chapman, the significance of a digital database in higher education was discussed. This article will delve into the key takeaways from their conversation, exploring three significant themes and their implications for universities.

The Game-Changing Potential of a Digital Database

Grant Chapman emphasizes the transformative potential of a well-designed and utilized digital database, rating its importance as a nine plus or ten on a scale of one to ten. He believes that a digital database can be a game-changer for universities if implemented correctly. Chapman highlights the three-year process Kansas State University is undertaking to develop its digital database, with full buy-in from the university. He sees this database as foundational to the university’s identity.

Chapman explains that the digital database supports the university’s mission, including teaching, learning, research, scholarly activities, performance, discovery, and service engagement and outreach. By bringing all these elements together, the database provides a comprehensive understanding of the university’s totality. It enables the university to value and showcase its work outside the United States, fostering comprehensive internationalization and global engagement.

The implications of a well-designed digital database are far-reaching. It provides university leaders with the necessary tools to advocate for all departments and colleges, not just their own. This allows for a more holistic approach to storytelling and enables the university to highlight the interconnectedness of various disciplines and initiatives. By understanding the work being done globally, universities can expand their efforts and create meaningful connections between local and global initiatives.

Facilitating Comprehensive Internationalization

Comprehensive internationalization is a key aspect of modern higher education, and a digital database can play a crucial role in facilitating this process. Grant emphasizes the importance of understanding the university’s totality within and outside the United States. He believes a digital database provides the necessary framework to bring together diverse international initiatives and showcase their impact.

Chapman highlights the value of international collaborations and the need to tell deeper stories about how global engagement is connected to the work done in Kansas. A digital database allows universities to collect and analyze data on international partnerships, research collaborations, and student exchanges. This information can then be used to demonstrate the university’s commitment to global engagement and its impact on the local community.

A comprehensive internationalization strategy facilitated by a digital database has significant implications. It allows universities to attract and retain international students, foster cross-cultural understanding, and prepare students for a globalized workforce. Furthermore, it enables universities to leverage their international partnerships for research collaborations and knowledge exchange, enhancing the quality and impact of their research.

Advocating for All Departments and Colleges

Grant Chapman emphasizes the role of a Senior International Officer (SIO) in advocating for all departments and colleges within the university. He believes that a digital database provides SIOs with the necessary tools to effectively advocate for the entire institution rather than just their department or college. This allows for a more comprehensive and inclusive approach to storytelling and showcases the interconnectedness of various disciplines.

Chapman highlights the importance of combining people and topics to create meaningful connections. A digital database enables SIOs to identify common themes and areas of collaboration across departments and colleges. By understanding the work being done globally, SIOs can bring diverse perspectives and expertise together to address complex global challenges.

The implications of advocating for all departments and colleges are significant. It fosters a sense of unity and collaboration within the university, breaking down silos and promoting interdisciplinary approaches. It also allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the university’s impact on a global scale, enabling SIOs to effectively communicate the value of international initiatives to stakeholders and funding agencies.


A well-designed and utilized digital database is critically important in higher education. It has the potential to be a game changer for universities, serving as a foundational tool to support teaching, learning, research, and outreach activities. A digital database can facilitate a comprehensive internationalization strategy, allowing universities to understand and showcase their global engagement efforts. Furthermore, a digital database provides university leaders with the necessary tools to advocate for all departments and colleges, enabling them to tell deeper stories about the connection between global initiatives and local work. By harnessing the power of a digital database, universities can enhance their impact and create meaningful connections in an increasingly interconnected world.

To catch the full interview with Grant, CLICK HERE.