CHAPEL HILL, NC — Frederick Van Sant, a global expert in technology-assisted teaching and learning, has been named executive director of the University of North Carolina system’s Center for International Understanding. The appointment, effective December 3, 2014, was announced today by UNC President Thomas W. Ross. Van Sant will succeed Jim Fain, who has served as interim executive director since July.

The Center for International Understanding is central to the UNC system’s efforts to increase international engagement on its 17 campuses. In a report published last month, UNC endorsed the Center’s commitment to help make North Carolina the most globally engaged state in the nation. In his new role, Van Sant will report to UNC’s Vice President for International, Community and Economic Engagement and will work in concert with the system-wide Council on International Programs.

Van Sant, who was selected from more than 100 applicants spanning three continents, has lived and worked all over the world. Most recently he was based in Abu Dhabi as a senior education strategist for the education technology company Blackboard. In that capacity, he traveled and worked with universities, governments, and industries in more than 25 countries. Previously, he had led development of a regional center for faculty professional development at Abu Dhabi University. He has spent more than 30 years in higher education, serving on university faculties in both the United States and United Arab Emirates. He also brings K-12 administrative experience, having served as a manager with the Minnesota Department of Education and as the head of USAID’s largest-ever education reconstruction project in post-war El Salvador.

The appointment marks a return to North Carolina for Van Sant, who earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from UNC-Chapel Hill.  He also hold a master’s degree in education from the University of South Florida and a doctorate in educational leadership from Purdue University.

In announcing the appointment, President Ross said, “Rick Van Sant has an impressive track record of educational leadership and success in the United States and around the world. Having devoted three decades to higher education and improving how we teach and share information, he brings the credentials and international government and industry relationships we are looking for in the next leader of the Center for International Understanding."

"The Board of Directors' search committee was gratified by the caliber and accomplishments of the applicants for this position.  The Center’s reputation and appeal are truly global,” said Board Chair Moise Khayrallah. “In Dr. Van Sant, we found the dynamic leader who will propel the Center to higher accomplishments in our vision to make North Carolina the most globally engaged state in the nation."

The Center for International Understanding

Founded in 1979, the Center for International Understanding is a component of the 17-campus University of North Carolina. It optimizes North Carolina’s global opportunities by leading travel programs, convening thought leaders, fostering selected initiatives, and disseminating data with the aim of enhancing economic well-being and quality of life for all North Carolinians.  The Center is a catalyst for the state’s international efforts among education, policy, and business organizations.

The University of North Carolina

The oldest public university in the nation, the University of North Carolina enrolls more than 220,000 students and encompasses all 16 of North Carolina’s public institutions that grant baccalaureate degrees, as well as the NC School of Science and Mathematics, the nation’s first public residential high school for gifted students. UNC campuses support a broad array of distinguished liberal-arts programs, two medical schools and one teaching hospital, two law schools, a veterinary school, a school of pharmacy, 11 nursing programs, 15 schools of education, three schools of engineering, and a specialized school for performing artists. The UNC Center for Public Television, with its 11-station statewide broadcast network, is also under the University umbrella.


UNC General Administration contact: Joni Worthington, Vice President for Communications, 919-962-4629 or
Center for International Understanding contact:  Stephanie Caplan, Communications Director, (919) 314-2826 x. 7951 or


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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