Long-Time IES Abroad President & CEO Announces Retirement

Dr. Mary M. Dwyer, who has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of IES Abroad since 1996, has announced her retirement, effective June 30, 2020.

Dr. Dwyer noted in a message to employees announcing her retirement: “IES Abroad has such an exceptional Board of Directors that I know will recruit a very talented individual to lead IES Abroad. I look forward to watching from a distance as IES Abroad continues to grow, innovate, remain strategic, meet its mission and continue educating thousands of very talented students annually from many nations. Our mission is critical to the development of effective, humane world leaders.”

By the time of Dr. Dwyer’s retirement in June of 2020, she will have led IES Abroad for nearly 25 years. During that time, enrollments will have grown from 1,200 to more than 10,000 students a year, with more than 100,000 students participating in IES Abroad programs.

Under Dr. Dwyer’s leadership, IES Abroad has grown from 22 to 91 programming locations around the world. In 1996, annual revenue was about $10 million; this year IES Abroad’s annual revenue exceeded $135 million.

As IES Abroad Chairman Ezio Vergani noted in a message to the international education community: “I have been tremendously impressed by Dr. Dwyer’s commitment to serving as a valued mentor to the current leadership of IES Abroad and to many individuals in international education around the world. Through these efforts, Dr. Dwyer has developed strong depth of worldwide leadership at IES Abroad. Dr. Dwyer has often expressed to me her belief that leadership and experience matter. Under her tutelage, IES Abroad has developed strong, respected leaders in the Chicago headquarters at multiple levels and at IES Abroad and Study Abroad Foundation locations worldwide.”

Vergani stressed that during the next 12 months, Dr. Dwyer will remain fully engaged and involved in all aspects of IES Abroad’s global operations. “The organization will remain steadfast in its dedication and commitment to academic quality, student health and safety, the continued implementation of the organization’s strategic plan, and organizational growth and development, all of which advance IES Abroad’s mission,” he said.

A search committee comprised of IES Abroad Board Members and Chicago and overseas IES Abroad employees has been formed that will utilize the resources of a highly-respected search firm as part of an international search for a President and Chief Executive Officer. The search committee expects to complete its work in 2020, allowing for a transition period in which the new President will be able to work with and learn directly from Dr. Dwyer.

In her note to employees of IES Abroad, Dr. Dwyer said: “It’s time for me to create new adventures and challenges in retirement. It’s time for IES Abroad to benefit from a new leader who will bring fresh ideas and continue to move the organization forward from an extremely strong foundation.”

A Legacy of Remarkable Achievements

Dr. Dwyer has forged a reputation as a relentless advocate of international education. Her many achievements at IES Abroad include the development of the IES Abroad MAP series, which established the standards of study abroad excellence; a curriculum audit that led to the development of the study abroad field’s finest academic programs; the establishment of the first dean of student’s office; the development of policies and protocols for health, safety and crisis management; and many other firsts in the field.

Dr. Dwyer also served as the lead researcher in a 50-year longitudinal study of the benefits of studying abroad. Under her leadership, IES Abroad expanded into full-time internships with the IES Internships business unit and the education of students outside of the United States through the Study Abroad Foundation; launched the Initiative to Diversify Education Abroad that has increased the number of underrepresented students attending IES Abroad programs by more than 75 percent during the past decade; increased the accessibility and affordability of studying abroad through a scholarship and aid program that will award more than $6 million in financial aid in the 2019-20 Academic Year; and drove many other firsts in the study abroad field.

As Vergani noted, the achievements took place during a period of continual improvement in the total IES Abroad study abroad experience, as evidenced by students’ and IES Abroad consortium members’ survey feedback.

Dr. Dwyer’s many contributions to international education have been recognized by PIE News with its International Education Leadership award, the University of Illinois at Chicago Woman of the Year Award, Loyola University’s Alumna of the Year award, and an honorary doctorate in Civil Law from the University of the South, Sewanee. She recently was named by Crain’s Chicago Business magazine as one of Chicago’s most notable women executives.

For more updates on IES Abroad, check out more news and announcements.

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