Dispatches from AACRAO Conference in Baltimore, MD April 12-14, 2015

April 16th, 2015


On route to Baltimore, MD, to attend the 101st annual conference of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officer (AACRAO) I had all the intentions to review my notes for an upcoming presentation, check and reply to emails, work on a training webinar scheduled in May, but instead 30,000 feet up in the air inside a metal tube called US Airways I watched, on my laptop, the new PBS-BBC series “Wolf Hall” based on the novel of the same name by British author Hilary Mantel. From the second the title credits began to appear on the screen, I was hooked. I watched the first episode of this six-part series and found myself captivated by the insanely excellent cast that includes Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell and treachery and politicking at work in the 16th century court of King Henry VIII. How watching “Wolf Hall” was going to impact my attendance at the conference and encounters and meetings I did not know, but one thing was quite clear was that I had to watch the second episode on my return flight to Los Angeles.

Two years earlier in 2013, I attended the AACRAO national conference in San Francisco, CA, where I was invited to serve on the Task Force on International Admissions and Credential Evaluation. Now, with the work of the Task Force completed and the report with its findings and recommendations submitted to the AACRAO Board, a session had been scheduled at the conference to allow a few of us who served on the Task Force to present an overview of the report and offer updates.

But before the session presentation, I first had to locate the convention center, check in, pick up my name badge, head to the exhibit hall and set up the display at the booth. This was the year the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE) had decided to have a booth. As a Charter and Endorsed Members of AICE, I represented the Association as its President & Treasurer along with Chair of the Association, Alexander Afagonov with Globe Language Services, another Charter and Endorsed Member, and two representatives from NASBA, an Associate Member of AICE that included Brentni Henderson-King and James Suh. With the booth set up completed, we joined the other attendees for the opening reception that followed the Opening Plenary presented by Scott Simon, Host of Weekend Edition Saturday on NPR and Need to Know on PBS.

L-R: James Such (NASBA), Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert (ACEI), Alexander Agafonov (Globe Language Services)

This year’s conference offered several sessions related to international education that included topics on China, Cuban Academic Credentials; Russian and Ukraine: Chanted in Higher Education; Brazil: Country Overview; Hong Kong’s Diploma of Secondary Education. EducationUSA representative offered various poster session on China, Ghana, and Mexico.

At the booth, we met a significant number of AACRAO members some of whom said that their institutions do evaluations in house while some were working with outside companies and some were considering looking at other companies, such as those that are members of AICE. I reunited with colleagues whom I had not seen in several years, especially Eva-Angela Adan who travelled with me to Honduras and Guatemala in 1987 for the PIER Workshop on Central America.

At the invitation of the AACRAO Board of Directors, I attended the Reception for Honorees and reconnected with several members of the Task Force. No trip to Baltimore is complete without a visit to Camden Yards, and though I didn’t physically step into the famous sports venue, I was fortunate to have a brief but memorable view of the Baltimore Orioles and the NY Yankees game from the balcony of the hospitality suite along with fellow members of the AACRAO Task Force on International Education and Credential Evaluation.

My last day at the conference ended with co-presenting the session “AACRAO Task Force on International Admissions and Credential Evaluation Update.” My co-presenters included: Michael Reilly, Executive Director of AACRAO; Melanie Gottlieb, VP Enrollment Management at Cottey College & VP International Education for AACRAO; John Yopp, Associate Provost University of Kentucky, Emeritus, Gloria Nathanson, Associate Director of International Admissions & Relations (Ret.) with UCLA and Chair of the Task Force. There were about sixty people who attended the session which was well received. Michael Reilly introduced the impetus behind the formation of the Task Force and its charge, Gloria Nathanson who chaired the Task Force offered a historic overview of the international education and credential evaluation profession, I spoke on the importance of international credential evaluation and reviewed the list of recommendations the Credential Evaluation Committee submitted to the AACRAO Board in ways to foster the profession and its practitioners, John Yopp discussed the current status and challenges of US Study Abroad and International Student Recruitment, studies abroad who presented on the research component of the Task Force’s report, Melanie Gottlieb shared with the audience steps AACRAO Board has taken and considering to take in response to the recommendations submitted by the Task Force. The handout for the PowerPoint presentation will be available through AACRAO. Copy of the Task Force report is already available on the AACRAO website. Please click on this link: http://bit.ly/1b8wOB9

On the return flight home, I had no choice but catch the second episode of “Wolf Hall,” and was quickly lost in this very riveting program with its quiet intensity in which the central characters, like pieces on a chessboard, were being moved to get into positions for the ensuing drama. Though “Wolf Hall” is based on events which took place 500 years ago, the characters demonstrate characteristics compatible to our 21st world.


Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

ACEI Logo with Slogan - FINAL

The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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