COVID-19 has impacted all of higher education in dramatic ways, and this includes international education. In fact, international education is one of the hardest-hit sectors. Without international mobility, many organizations, institutions, and campus offices have been forced to reduce expenses through layoffs, furloughs, budget cuts, and reductions in programs and services.
NAFSA is not immune. In 2020, we canceled the NAFSA in-person Annual Conference, which is one of our largest sources of annual revenue, and quickly pivoted to eConnection. Because of ongoing COVID-19 public health concerns, this year’s Annual Conference is also a virtual event but will have sessions and workshops similar to an in-person conference.
Our inability to host two consecutive in-person conferences, due to COVID-19, has drastically reduced NAFSA’s revenues and operating budget. We were forced to reduce positions at the NAFSA office; positions filled by colleagues we have worked with side by side for years. Combined with reduced revenue from membership dues, the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic profoundly affected NAFSA’s finances.
In response to these challenges, the Board of Directors, the President and Chair of the Board Jeff Riedinger, and Executive Director and CEO Esther Brimmer are working together to stabilize the organization’s finances while maintaining our commitment to the core values to educate, advocate, and innovate as outlined in our strategic plan.
COVID-19 has been a learning event for all of us and has demonstrated that NAFSA needs to diversify its sources of income. We are innovating to create processes, such as expanded fundraising, to do so and to reduce expenses while still delivering products and services members need.
In the meantime, we all need to take action to keep NAFSA strong. Please consider taking the following actions:
- Renew individual or group membership and take advantage of the new membership model: NAFSA Membership
- Register for the annual conference NOW and work with others to restore international mobility and education in our home institutions and communities: NAFSA 2021 Annual Conference Registration
- Encourage others to register for the annual conference.
- Join the virtual Annual Business Meeting and Town Hall, which is free of charge and open to all members, on Thursday, June 3 at 1:30 p.m. EDT and receive more details about the state of the association and share your thoughts: NAFSA 2021 Annual Business Meeting Registration.
NAFSA members have built and supported this amazing association for 73 years. With your assistance, NAFSA will continue to provide critical services and products for international education professionals, for another 73 years.
While COVID-19 has created serious economic disruptions, it has also dramatically demonstrated the kinds of global interdependencies NAFSA seeks to recognize, nurture and improve. Our mission has never been more relevant.
If you have additional questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact me via this form Contact NAFSA President.
Jeffrey M. Riedinger
President and Chair of the Board
Executive Director and CEO