How Did Region III Begin?
Taken from materials gathered by Lucy Keller
In 1954, international student advisors met together for the first time. Dr. Farrington at the University of Houston and Alice Pratt at IIE-Southwest co-sponsored the meeting. Dr. Joe Neal was elected chairman.
The following year, in March, the Southwest Conference of Foreign Student and Fulbright Advisors was convened by Dr. Joe Neal, University of Texas-Austin and Alice Reynolds Pratt, Southwest Office, Institute of International Education. At that time, Mississippi was a part of Region III.
Dr. Neal tells this interesting story about getting Russell L. Riley, Director of the IES of the state Department, to join other illustrious speakers at this first meeting:
"I invited Russell Riley, The Director of the International Exchange Service, to speak. He replied that he would be delighted to come...however, he was supposed to testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee concerned the next year's budget.
"I determined that the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee was Lyndon Johnson, whom I knew. So I sent a telegram to Johnson saying that Riley could not attend an important meeting in Texas because of appearing before his (Johnson's) committee. I received a telegram from Johnson that Riley would be at the meeting. I learned later that Johnson's office called Riley and said, "You will go to Texas."
"Apparently, Riley's excuse for not coming the in the first place was only partially based on the Committee appearance. After Johnson's order to appear, however, he had no choice. He landed in Houston from a DC3 as mad as the proverbial hen. In fact, he barely spoke, he was so angry at being commandeered to come to our meeting. After he saw how many (more than 100) were at the session, however, and how interested they were in international education, he calmed down and began to enjoy himself. He and I later became good friends and used to joke about the occasion.
"The Houston meeting went off well, though we were all novices in international education. Alice Pratt was her usual gracious hostess. Partially as a result of the success of this conference, though it was never formally admitted, NAFSA began to endorse Regional meetings."