Published: Aug. 16, 2018

Opal Leeman Bartzis appointed executive director of education abroad

Contact(s): Rachel Warner International Studies and Programs office: (517) 884-2134, Cheryl Benner Office of Study Abroad office: (517) 432-5166

International Studies and Programs at Michigan State University has appointed Opal Leeman Bartzis as executive director of education abroad, effective Sept. 24. Bartzis will direct MSU’s Office for Education Abroad and provide strategic leadership to the university related to education abroad and international exchange programs.

MSU is an international leader for education abroad, offering more than 275 academic programs in 60 countries, on all seven continents. MSU has been ranked in the top 10 for education abroad participation for more than a decade.

“I am so pleased to join the MSU community and to combine my efforts with those who have established MSU as a revered leader in education abroad,” Bartzis said. “I look forward to collaborating with faculty, staff and students to assess needs, build on strengths and engage in the creative development of expanded opportunities in support of the MSU mission.” 

Bartzis comes to MSU with more than two decades of experience in education abroad as well as three years of experience as a foreign language teacher for German and Russian. She is currently the vice president for academic affairs at the Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University, or IFSA-Butler, one of the nation’s largest and oldest study abroad program providers. 

Bartzis has steered IFSA-Butler toward more innovative education abroad practices, including the development of a successful First-Generation Scholarship program as well as publications and advising practices that address the unique needs of specific student groups, such as students with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ students, student athletes, mature students and community college transfer students. 

Over her 20-year career at IFSA-Butler, Bartzis has held diverse roles based in program development, international relations, student services, academic advising and academic affairs.

“While Dr. Bartzis brings a wealth of experience related to international education, perhaps what is most striking is her deep commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Steven Hanson, associate provost and dean of international studies and programs. “These shared values and her work toward making education abroad accessible to every student makes her the perfect fit for MSU as we work toward making global learning an integral part of the Spartan experience.”

Bartzis is the current and longest running chair of the national study abroad committee for the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and has held myriad leadership positions within NAFSA: Association of International Educators. 

Bartzis holds a doctorate of education in adult, higher and community education, a doctoral certificate in college and university teaching and a doctoral certificate in community college leadership from Ball State University. Her dissertation, “Understanding the Perceptions of U.S. Students Participating in an International Student Teaching Experience,” was nominated for the American Educational Research Association’s Dissertation of the Year in 2016.

Opal Leeman Bartzis, new executive director of education abroad.