While the international students at Ohio University felt they were in the midst of erratic political waters, the Office of Global Affairs and International Studies decided to drop the anchor and steady the boat.
Diane Cahill was appointed as the interim director of International Student and Faculty Services on May 20, 2017, by Lorna Jean Edmonds, vice provost of Global Affairs and International Studies in conjunction with the members of ISFS.
Prior to this, Cahill was solely the director of operations for Global Affairs and International Studies. But she has acquired an additional role as the new director of ISFS. After former Director Krista McCallum Beatty left office in May, Edmonds consulted the ISFS faculty, other departments throughout the university, as well as lawyers and student services before appointing Cahill to take Beatty’s position.
Edmonds said Cahill’s expertise regarding management and networking made her a natural choice after Beatty’s departure. As an operations director, Cahill is tasked with managing and overseeing the human resources department at the Yamada International House.
“I would say she was the only choice,” said Edmonds, regarding Cahill’s appointment.
The designation marks a major shift in the director’s role at ISFS. Initially, the role of the director comprised of overseeing student immigration and outreach. However, the dissolution of Beatty’s position in May gave the department of Global Affairs and International Studies an opportunity to revisualize the ISFS to better serve the students, Edmonds said.
The job has been split into two separate positions: director and associate director. As the director of ISFS, Cahill is responsible for outreach, programming and advising. She works in accordance with Jennifer Nisevich, the interim associate director who is also the principal designated school official and responsible officer. Nisevich leads the immigration advising team, manages university compliance with F-1 and J-1 visa regulations and oversees database and information management.
The uncertainties regarding immigration policies spawned an array of complications for international students, especially those who hail from countries that have recently been stamped with a travel ban seal. Some of the international students, hailing from the listed countries, were hesitant to go home during the summer 2017 break. The students feared they may not be able to come back to finish their degrees, Nisevich said. Under Cahill’s leadership, ISFS worked with the university to provide accommodations for those students during the summer term.
“She is trying to make sure that students have the support they need at all times,” Nisevich said.
Cahill’s role also demands her to play the part of an advisor to the International Student Union. International Student Union President Carla Triana said it’s a part that Cahill plays with utmost sincerity. Cahill actively participates in ISU, she said, and is pivotal in maintaining contacts with the rest of the university.
“She has our back,” Triana, a senior studying international business, said. “She always has the most valuable advice to give us.”
Over the eight years working with several departments at OU, Cahill has noticed a university-wide imbalance in supporting international students. While the departments are eager to welcome and work with international students, Cahill said they are often unaware of immigration regulations. One of her main goals as the interim director is to address the imbalance by making ISFS a more approachable entity for departments and students to obtain immigration information.
“I think there is a lot of support for international students on campus, but they are in pockets,” Cahill said. “What we need is training and working with departments so that they are better equipped to serve the international students.”
The ISFS faculty were equally enthusiastic about Cahill’s placement in the integral position. Cahill’s tenacious work ethic and jovial attitude makes her a dependable colleague, Viktoria Marinova, the graduate assistant for International Student Orientation, said.
The influential title of interim director also suggests its transitory nature. However, Edmonds has not yet officially determined the tenure of the appointment. The success of the restructured ISFS faculty has boosted the confidence of the Office of Global Affairs and International Studies in the interim team, Edmonds said, and it has led them to envision the solution as a long-term setup.
“Diane is a powerhouse,” Edmonds said. “She is an extremely dedicated person and you couldn’t meet somebody who cares more about the students.”
Correction: A previous version of the article incorrectly stated the two new positions. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.