October 31, 2005

Head of visa services in U.S. to speak at SIUC

by Pete Rosenbery


CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Janice L. Jacobs, the head of visa services in the United States, will discuss international student enrollment and border security efforts next month at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Jacobs is deputy assistant secretary of state for visa services with the State Department, a post she has held since October 2002. She will present the lecture on border security vs. international enrollment, and striking a balance in a post-9/11 world, at 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, in the Student Center Auditorium.

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is sponsoring the lecture. Admission is free.

Jacobs graduated from SIUC in 1968 with a bachelor's degree in French and English. Her interest in international affairs comes naturally, according to SIUC visiting professor John S. Jackson with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. Jacobs' father, Murphysboro native Robert Jacobs, was a dean of SIUC's International Services, and he served many years with the State Department as an educational consultant in several countries, including Ethiopia, Nigeria, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. Jacobs' mother lives in Murphysboro.

As deputy assistant secretary of state for visa services, Jacobs is on the front line of dealing with the issues of border security and freedom, and access that universities value, Jackson said.

"Naturally, that means protecting the border and in an era of Homeland Security concerns that is a terribly important job and mission," he said. "At the same time, universities have always valued our ability to recruit foreign students and scholars from around the world."

The answer is not an easy one, and Jackson anticipates Jacobs will discuss the issue in quite cogent terms.

"She brings authority. She is the top person in the field," he said. "She can speak with an authority that very few other officials can bring to us, and yet she understands the local setting quite well because she is one of our own."

Jackson, a former dean of SIUC's College of Liberal Arts, points out that Jacobs used her degree from the program and has had a distinguished state department career.

Her career includes a mix of assignments both overseas and in Washington, D.C., including working in the State Department's Visa Office, Operations Center and Office of Cuban Affairs. She joined the Foreign Service in 1980 after many years of overseas experience as a Foreign Service dependant. Prior to her current appointment three years ago, Jacobs served two years as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo. Jacobs earned a master's degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College in 1995.

Developing citizen-leaders with global perspectives is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.