Senior Vice Provost for Global Engagement Stepping Down to Return to Faculty After 16 Years of Leadership

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Senior Vice Provost for Global Engagement Bailian Li will step down from his position and return to the faculty in the College of Natural Resources, effective August 15. 

“I want to sincerely thank Dr. Li for his outstanding commitment to NC State and the Office of Global Engagement,” said Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Warwick Arden. “His work has truly put our university on the map internationally, and he created strong momentum for the continued success of global efforts at NC State.”

Bailian LiDr. Li began leading the unit (then the Office of International Affairs) with two subunits and 18 staff in 2006. During Dr. Li’s 16-year tenure, the Office of Global Engagement has grown to eight units with 60 employees, mostly from self-generated funding. He has made significant progress for campus internationalization, and has helped NC State become a model for global efforts in the higher education community. 

NC State undergraduate students studying abroad increased from 13% in 2006 to 24% in 2020 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and total international student enrollment increased from 1,717 in 2006 to 5,229 in 2022. NC State increased faculty international funding support and launched the Outstanding Global Engagement Award, Academy of Global Engagement, Distinguished Global Alumni Award and Global Engagement Institute for faculty development.  

Under Dr. Li’s leadership, Global Learning for All was launched to expand the focus of NC State Global to provide virtual global learning options, as well as campus-based curricular and co-curricular global activities with the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as the framework. Recently, NC State earned a place among the top 200 universities in the world for global sustainable impact, according to the Times Higher Education’s 2022 Impact Rankings that measure university contributions to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals

In 2018, Dr. Li’s efforts in guiding the office helped NC State to receive the Institute of International Education’s Generation Study Abroad Seal of Excellence in 2019 for surpassing its goals of increasing both overall and underrepresented students by 50%. The office also helped NC State win the Senator Paul Simon Award in 2014 for outstanding and innovative campus internationalization. 

In 2017, Dr. Li helped transition NC State’s Prague Institute, previously a study abroad and international education program in the College of Design, to the NC State European Center in Prague. This involved a change in physical location, as well as moving oversight of the center to the Office of Global Engagement, which offered further experiential education to all NC State students, along with more teaching and research opportunities for university faculty. 

Dr. Li joined NC State in 1995 as an assistant professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, becoming a professor in 2004, a position he currently holds. Dr. Li has extensive experience in developing effective international partnerships for student mobility, faculty research and joint academic exchanges. He has also been an active leader and served in various leadership positions in international education communities, research and academic societies and journal editorial boards. These include the University Global Partnership Network, the Association of Land-Grant and Public Universities, the Association of International Education Administrators, and NAFSA: the Association of International Educators, among others.

Provost Arden has appointed Dr. Heidi Hobbs, associate professor in the School of Public and International Affairs, to lead the Office of Global Engagement in the interim, effective August 15. Dr. Hobbs is also the director of faculty engagement for Global Learning for All. 

Dr. Hobbs has served NC State in several global capacities, including serving as interim director of the NC State European Center in Prague, director of international programs for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and director of the master of international studies program.  

She is a recipient of the NC State’s Jackson Rigney International Service Award, the Outstanding Global Engagement Award, and a member of the Academy of Excellence in Global Engagement. She has also received two Fulbright awards. She is a leader in her profession, having held several senior roles in the International Studies Association and is currently the chair for the international education section.

Dr. Hobbs earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science, as well as a graduate certificate in global policy studies, from the University of Georgia. She earned her Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Southern California.

Provost Arden tentatively plans to start the search for a permanent replacement next spring and will announce next steps at that time.

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