For more than two decades, Louise Baldwin has been behind some of the most innovative orientation programs for international students, staff and faculty at the University of Michigan.
She was instrumental in designing a program for incoming international students that includes sessions on cultural awareness, legal issues and practical concerns.
She was there to support international students and faculty after the 9/11 attacks prompted a revision of immigration rules and regulations, and most recently was key in coordinating efforts to provide timely, relevant and trustworthy information to international students, faculty and staff as the Trump administration announced new travel restrictions.
Now, Baldwin, senior associate director of the International Center and director of immigration services and compliance, is being recognized for her efforts with the inaugural President’s Award for Distinguished Service in International Education.
“The University of Michigan is known throughout the world as a leading international community of scholars,” President Mark Schlissel said. “When our students and faculty go abroad, and when international scholars come here, they gain new perspectives and higher levels of understanding that make our world better and safer. I deeply appreciate Louise Baldwin’s work to advance U-M’s mission and the highest values of international education.”
Those who have worked with Baldwin say the extent of her expertise in all things international — federal regulation compliance, health care and health insurance — and her passion have made her a leader in international education in the country.
“Louise has influenced the success of the International Center, its immigration and compliance work, and its directors for decades,” said Judith Pennywell, director of the International Center. “She exemplifies distinguished service in international education.”
Linda Kentes, who worked with Baldwin for 11 years before moving to academic affairs at LSA, said the name of the award sums up Baldwin’s long career at the university and “her unwavering, loyal service to our campus’ international populations.”
Baldwin said her love for international education stems in part from her time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Afghanistan in the 1970s, before the Soviet-Afghan war that started in 1979.
“I really loved it there,” she said. “I really enjoyed being in the schools and seeing what it was like to live in a place that was different from mine.”
Baldwin first came to the International Center as the Peace Corps coordinator, then became the center’s program coordinator in 1991. Since then, she’s worked in all areas of the organization. She currently serves as the senior associate director and director of immigration services and compliance.
“I had the experience that our students and scholars have had coming to a new place, having to adjust, dealing with all the differences,” she said.
U-M has a long history of sending and receiving students from abroad. The first two international students, one from Mexico, one from Wales, enrolled in 1847. This fall, there were 2,061 undergraduate and 4,703 graduate and professional international students on the Ann Arbor campus, about 15 percent of the student body.
In 2015-16, U-M was recognized for having the 14th-largest international student enrollment in the United States in the annual Open Doors report by the Institute of International Education, a New York-based nonprofit.
Recently, the Peace Corps announced that U-M ranked fourth among large schools on the list of colleges and universities that produce the most Peace Corps volunteers. There are 60 Wolverines currently volunteering worldwide.