May 29, 2024

SIU’s Paul Simon Institute hosts discussion on the importance of international education

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Fanta Aw, executive director and CEO of the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA), will discuss the importance of international education and international exchange programs during a virtual presentation with Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute on Wednesday, June 5.

The discussion, via Zoom at 10 a.m., is free and open to the public, but registration is required. The conversation is part of the institute’s “Understanding Our New World” discussion series. Visit to register.

Aw and John Shaw, institute director, will discuss “how higher education is enriched by strong international programs,” Shaw said.

“Dr. Aw is a pioneer in the field of international education and is a powerful advocate for the importance of international educational exchanges,” Shaw said. “She has argued for many decades for greater diversity and inclusion in higher education.”

Aw became NAFSA’s executive director and CEO in March 2023 and served as the organization’s board of directors’ president and chair from 2013 to 2016. She received the NAFSA International Education Award for Distinguished Service in 2018. NAFSA serves more than 10,000 members and international educators throughout the world and is the largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange.

Before becoming NAFSA’s executive director and CEO, Aw spent more than 30 years with American University as a student and later a university official in various leadership positions. Aw’s roles during her tenure there included vice president for undergraduate enrollment, campus life and inclusive excellence; vice president of campus life, and assistant vice president and director of international and student scholar services. She was the Hurst senior professor lecturer at AU’s School of International Service.

Originally from Mali, Aw earned each of her degrees from American University — a bachelor’s degree in accounting, a master’s degree in public administration with a focus in organizational development and a doctorate in sociology with a focus in international education, social stratification and transnational migration.

Attendees are encouraged to submit questions for Aw on the registration form or email questions to

More information, a list of the institute’s upcoming events and past speakers and events are available.