The Forum on Education Abroad Board of Directors announces that Brian Whalen will be stepping down on April 30, 2018, after a successful 12-year career serving as The Forum’s President and CEO, and will continue to serve as Senior Advisor to assist with the transition to a new President and CEO. Whalen commented: “With the implementation of the new strategic plan actively underway, The Forum is in excellent shape and is thriving. This is the right time for me to help with the transition to a new President and CEO who will lead The Forum into the future, as I embrace new opportunities myself.”
The Chair of The Forum Board of Directors Mary Anne Grant commented, “Brian Whalen has been instrumental in The Forum’s growth and development from a fledgling non-profit to the vibrant membership association that it is today. Brian’s commitment and contributions to The Forum will be a lasting legacy for the field.”
During Brian’s 12 years at the helm, The Forum has had rapid and sustained growth in all areas of the organization. With the leadership and guidance of highly dedicated Boards and Councils, Brian has helped to lead the transformation of The Forum from a young organization to a global membership association, with 208 members in 2006 to more than 800 today. In 2006, Brian led the establishment of a strategic relationship with Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, set up central office operations on campus, and hired a professional staff that has grown from one to nine full-time employees. Attendance at the annual conference has gone from 212 to 1,400+, while a bi-annual European conference attracts over 400 attendees. During his tenure as President and CEO, Brian directed the development of a wide range of signature resources to support Forum members, including the Quality Improvement Program, the Professional Certification Program, regional and customized workshops, Standards Institutes, Critical Dialogues and webinars, and a variety of print and online resources. Under Brian’s leadership, The Forum’s financial reserves have increased from less than $1,000 to over $1.8 million.
Brian’s association with The Forum began in 2002 when he met with the Board of Directors in his role as founding editor and publisher of Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, the field’s first peer-reviewed academic journal. The result was a strategic partnership that resulted in every Forum member receiving a complimentary subscription to Frontiers. In 2015, The Forum became Frontiers permanent home.
In 2002, Brian was elected to the first Forum Advisory Council, chaired its Outcomes Committee, and assumed the duties of chair when then chair Peter Wollitzer became too ill to serve. Brian also served in 2005 as chair of the Second Annual Forum Conference in Miami. In 2005, The Forum Board asked Dickinson College to serve as host and strategic partner of The Forum and for Brian to be released half-time from his College positions to serve as The Forum’s President and CEO. In 2010, Brian resigned his positions at Dickinson to devote his full time to The Forum’s presidency.
In 2007, Brian steered The Forum through the scrutiny of the field initiated by a front-page story in The New York Times questioning business arrangements in study abroad, and the subsequent issuing of subpoenas by the New York and Connecticut Attorneys General. Brian led The Forum’s immediate, proactive response by convening an Ethics Summit that led to the creation of a Code of Ethics. He responded to the widespread media attention, and, as the sole representative of the field, personally met with the New York and Connecticut Attorneys General offices to advocate for the ways in which the field takes seriously ethics and the Standards of Good Practice.
A hallmark of Brian’s leadership has been the establishment of mutually beneficial partnerships to advance The Forum’s mission. Examples include a partnership with The New York Times to develop a Digital Resource, a joint initiative with the Institute of International Education (IIE) to train EducationUSA and Fulbright advisors in Brazil, India, and Turkey in the Standards of Good Practice, and a collaboration with AIFS and the AIFS Foundation to establish a special permanent collection of education abroad historical materials in the archives of the Dickinson College library.
Brian worked closely with Forum colleagues to pilot the first Standards workshops in many venues in the United States, and in Australia, Egypt, India, England and Spain. In addition, Brian launched a task force to study the idea of offering a professional certification program as envisioned by the Forum founders. As The Forum grew, Brian hired outstanding staff to develop and deliver member programs and services and expanded capacity by winning two grants from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Mellon Foundation to fund recent Ph.D.s at the central office at a critical time of expansion.
During his tenure, Brian has represented The Forum at increasingly higher levels of national and international engagement, most notably in joining Secretary of State John Kerry’s delegation to the U.S. – India Higher Education Summit in New Delhi. Other activities include participation in the White House Travel Blogger and Global Citizenship Summit and interactions with regional and disciplinary accreditation entities to promote The Forum’s quality assurance role in higher education.
Brian summed up his service to The Forum this way: “My tenure as Forum President and CEO has been an amazing, wonderful experience. Working with so many talented and diverse colleagues over the years has been what I have enjoyed most. Our field has dedicated, smart, creative and interesting professionals with whom it is a genuine pleasure to work, and collaborating with them to serve our membership has been both a privilege and an honor.”
Vice Chair and incoming Chair of the Board Enda Carroll commented, “We are very fortunate that Brian has agreed to remain as a Senior Advisor to assist with the transition to a new President and CEO.”