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SAF International University Network Welcomes New President


The Study Abroad Foundation (SAF) is proud to announce the appointment of George Chen, Ph.D., as President of the SAF International University Network and Executive Director of the Foundation. Dr. Chen will assume leadership of SAF following the retirement of President John Belcher in November of this year. With his deep knowledge of culture and higher education in Asia, Chen will be responsible for providing strategic leadership for SAF by working with the Board, under the guidance of Board Chairperson and IES Abroad President and CEO Mary Dwyer, Ph.D., to establish long-range goals, strategies and policies that take SAF to the next level.

Chen comes to the Foundation from Siemens Industry Software in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he managed strategic and product planning for automotive and machinery industries. Having 15-years' experience in business development and strategy, Chen has held increasingly responsible leadership positions at four Fortune 500 companies, including Siemens, General Motors and Honeywell, for which he successfully managed a business startup in China. 

“I am so pleased to welcome Dr. Chen as Executive Director of the Study Abroad Foundation,” said Dr. Dwyer. “In getting to know Dr. Chen, I have been struck by his deep appreciation for and commitment to the life-changing value of an international education experience. These values are perfectly aligned with SAF’s mission. At the same time, his extensive professional experience and business acumen will help SAF continue to grow and serve more students and institutions, allowing an ever-increasing number of students to benefit from a study abroad experience.”

Chen holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an MBA from University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. He will be working from the Foundation’s headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he’ll be relocating with his wife, Joy Song. Dr. Chen is looking forward to traveling extensively throughout Asia to continue to foster productive relationships with SAF’s International University Network of which he has been named President. 


President John Belcher Announces His Retirement 


Professor John Belcher has announced his retirement as President of the Foundation effective November 30, 2016. John will continue assisting SAF as a consultant for one year beginning in December in order to provide a smooth transition in leadership. Since John joined in 2005, SAF owes much of its success to his vision for reconstructing and relaunching the Foundation, as well as for his adeptness at fostering relationships with Asian universities and parastatal organizations. 

Under his leadership, the Foundation has grown into a multinational organization, having expanded its initial operations in Japan to include China, Taiwan, Korea, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Kazakhstan. Simultaneously, John has presided over the dramatic expansion of the Foundation's program offerings, including graduate study abroad, language and culture programs, research study abroad and internships. A testament to his vision, this academic year SAF enrollment exceeded 1,200 students for the first time in the Foundation's history.

“John has been particularly instrumental in attracting top tier Asian universities to partner with SAF. We are all grateful for his contributions,” said Dr. Dwyer.

We thank John for his dedication and service to the Foundation and for his lifelong work in international education.


SAF and IES Abroad Announce Strategic Affiliation


SAF is pleased to announce its affiliation with IES Abroad, a U.S.-based leader in the study abroad visiting student field. This strategic decision serves both organizations’ students and member universities, and will considerably strengthen SAF’s development.

IES Abroad is the preeminent partner to academic institutions globally in offering students exceptional study abroad and internship opportunities. Founded in 1950 and headquartered in Chicago, IES Abroad educates students to become leaders through worldwide study abroad opportunities that meet the highest standards of academic quality. During its 65-year history, IES Abroad has provided more than 110,000 students with outstanding academic and cultural experiences as a study abroad leader, and today offers more than 126 programs annually to American students in 34 locations around the world. IES Abroad has consistently set new standards in academic excellence, including the development of initiatives such as the IES Abroad Model Assessment Practices (MAPs) that have become standard-bearers for the entire field.

SAF’s affiliation with IES Abroad is the next step in our mission to create more opportunity for SAF International University Network members to provide their students with the understanding and intercultural skills necessary to succeed in and contribute to their own societies as well as to the world. SAF’s operations will continue under our highly respected brand, but with a renewed sense of optimism as the Foundation looks to work with member universities to identify new needs and opportunities to meet them.

Click here to learn more about IES Abroad. Click here to submit questions or feedback. 


Last Updated: 12/1/16