This page honors members of the NAFSA community who have passed during the last year. NAFSA is saddened by the loss of these individuals and is grateful for the many contributions they made to the association and the field of international education. They will be missed.
Maria Jacobson, the first Director of the Office of International Students at CUNY Graduate School and University Center, passed away in New York in June. Jacobson had an extensive career in international education, primarily advising foreign college students. The daughter of 1930s German refugees, Jacobson earned a BA from Hunter College, won a grant to study at the Goethe Institute in Frankfurt, Germany, received an MIA from Columbia University (SIPA) and started her professional career in 1962 advising students at Hunter College. At CUNY, Jacobson received numerous awards for her expertise and empathy assisting international graduate students, particularly regarding their immigration and visa issues. One accolade described her playing the role of “surrogate mother to hundreds of international students experiencing culture shock.”
Leo J. Sweeney, passed away on April 25, 2022. In addition to his long career at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Sweeney served as president of NAFSA's Board of Directors from 1973 to 1974 and was a member of the New Century Circle. At UMKC, Sweeney was the Director of Admission and Registrar for 32 years until 1989, when he became Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Student Affairs. NAFSA is grateful for Sweeney's many contributions to the association and the field of international education
Dr. Jack D. Burke passed away on March 5, 2022. Before his retirement, he served for 30 years, first as Director of International Student Services at University of Pennsylvania, and Director of International Student and Scholar Services at University of Houston. Jack previously served as chair of Region 8, National Community Section (COMSEC), and was a speaker on numerous panels and workshops at national and regional conferences. He received the Hugh Jenkins Award "for Excellence in Community Programming," and NAFSA Life Membership. Jack led the way in organizing the NAFSA Christian SIG. He was an inspiring mentor and friend to many.
Edward Murray McKay
Edward Murray McKay passed away on January 4, 2022. Murray had a longstanding involvement with NAFSA: Association of International Educators Creative Industries Member Interest Group, which culminated with his service as Co-chair since 2018. Murray will be remembered for his infinite kindness, his generosity, his easy laughter, his keen intelligence, compassion and grace.
Norman J. Peterson, PhD
Norman J. Peterson passed away on October 4, 2021. Before his retirement, he served for 20 years as a senior international education officer at Montana State University and held member leader roles at NAFSA, AIEA, and the Coalition for International Education. Norman was a past NAFSA Board Member, Vice President for Public Policy, and member of the International Education Leadership knowledge community. He was honored with the NAFSA International Education Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Field in Honor of Marita Houlihan and NAFSA Life Membership. NAFSA is grateful for his many contributions to the the association and the field of international education.
Kasey Janelle McCarthy
Kasey Janelle McCarthy passed away on April 4, 2021. In addition to her work as an international student adviser at GIA, Kasey was active in several professional organizations, including NAFSA: Association of International Educators and PIER. NAFSA is grateful for her many contributions to the the association and the field of international education.
Erika Marie Rohrbach
Erika Rohrback passed on January 31, 2021. As a member of NAFSA since 1997, Erika received honors, including the Leadership Award and the James O’Driscoll Distinguished Service Award for “outstanding service and leadership to NAFSA Region X,” both in 2009. She also became Region X chair in 2010, and diversity adviser of the Member Engagement Committee from 2012. NAFSA is grateful for her many contributions to the association and the field of international education.
Geoffrey Ellsworth Gee
Geoffrey Ellsworth Gee passed away on December 28, 2020. In addition to his work as the director of Penn Abroad at the University of Pennsylvania, Gee was active in several professional organizations, including NAFSA: Association of International Educators and the Forum on Education Abroad, of which he was a founding member. NAFSA is grateful for his many contributions to the field of international education and the association.
Sylvia Shortt passed away on December 17, 2020. Sylvia ,Region VII, was very active in NAFSA, particularly at the regional level.
Edward Devlin passed away July 12. In addition to his role as the Director of International Student Programs at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC), Devlin was a NAFSA leader and helped create national standards for international student recruitment. Over the years, Devlin was a pioneer in setting the standards for the ethical recruitment of international students. NAFSA is grateful for his many contributions to the association and the field of international education.
Robert B. Kaplan
Robert (Bob) B. Kaplan passed away in Port Angeles, WA, on February 8, 2020, surrounded by family members. In addition to his work as emeritus professor of applied linguistics in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Southern California, Kaplan also served as president and chair of NAFSA's Board of Directors from 1983 through 1984. He was a recipient of the association's Life Membership Award and served on the advisory board for International Educator magazine. NAFSA is grateful for Kaplan’s many contributions to the association and the field of international education.
Margaret (Peggy) Pusch
Margaret (Peggy) Pusch passed away on December 22, 2019. In addition to her work as president and executive director of SIETAR USA, Pusch also served as president of NAFSA’s Board of Directors and was a member of the New Century Circle. Pusch was also the cofounder and editor of the Intercultural Press. NAFSA is grateful for Pusch’s many contributions to the intercultural field and the association.
Ken Rogers passed away on December 6, 2019. In addition to his work as the associate dean of international services and programs at Indiana University for 25 years, Rogers also served as NAFSA’s vice president for regional affairs and was a member of the New Century Circle. In 1999, he received the International Education Award for Distinguished Service to NAFSA in Honor of Homer Higbee. NAFSA is grateful for Rogers’s many contributions to the association and the field of international education.
Arlene Jackson passed away on August 15, 2019. She served as the director for international education at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Jackson served as a member of the NAFSA Board of Directors from 2014-2016. Her contributions and dedication to the community of international education were extraordinary.
If you would like to notify NAFSA of the passing of a prominent community member, please contact us.