Ismael J. Betancourt Vélez, E.M.I.B.
Vice President of International Programs
Mr. Betancourt joined the UIU staff in August of 2012. He brings more than 13 years of experience in higher education and provides leadership for all international operations at the UIU's Fayette campus as well as the campuses in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
Mr. Betancourt comes from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he held the position of Executive Director for International Education. In this capacity, Mr. Betancourt managed all international-related offices including the Office of International Student Services, the Office of Study Abroad, the Academic Service Learning Semesters and the Intensive English Program. Furthermore, Mr. Betancourt closely worked with the Office of Undergraduate Admission as it relates to the admissions and recruitment of international students. Prior to Xavier University, Mr. Betancourt held the positions of Director of Education Abroad at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, and Director of the Office of International Services at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Mr. Betancourt has held leadership positions at NAFSA: Association of International Educators and currently serves as a Certified Site Reviewer for the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC). He is also a member of the Forum of Education Abroad, the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), and an ex-Board member of the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council.
Mr. Betancourt holds a Bachelor's Degree in International Business and International Studies, an Executive Masters in International Business, and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration. All degrees are from Saint Louis University.
Executive Director for International Programs
As Executive Director for International Programs at Upper Iowa University (UIU), Mr. Ryan Griffith supervises the UIU International Programs office and coordinates faculty, staff, and student support at UIU's international centers.
Mr. Griffith comes to UIU after serving four years with the University of North Carolina as a director, immigration officer, and adjunct lecturer of Political Science.
A graduate of the University of Southern California and Australia's Queensland University, Mr. Griffith specialized in international relations and Asian politics. Prior to 2007, he spent nearly a decade living, working, and studying in Asia-Pacific. He enjoys international travel and learning about the customs, cultures, and language(s) of the countries he visits.
Edwin Tan, MBA
Director of Asian Programs
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At Upper Iowa, Mr. Edwin Tan currently serves as Director of Asian Programs for all UIU International undergraduate programs in Malaysia and Hong Kong, and additional territories as assigned. His primary role is to coordinate with the Asian Centers in providing administrative supports and assuring the compliance in UIU policies, local accrediting authorities and the home accrediting association. He provides training and support for center staff to ensure smooth center operations and in compliance with Upper Iowa University policy including the Catalogue and International Operations Manual.
Director of English as a Second Language Program
Ms. Sarah Bjork serves as the Director of English as a Second Language (ESL) Program at Upper Iowa University, Fayette. Prior to this position, she served for two years as an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) teacher at Lutheran Language Institute, Tokyo, Japan. From her time in Japan, she was inspired to pursue a MA of ESL at Hamline University, St. Paul, MN. As a result of studying and interacting in Japanese on a daily basis for proficiency, Bjork can effectively teach to the nuances of learning a new language. Bjork is excited to build a solid ESL program that will ensure the success of her students in Upper Iowa's undergraduate programs, and contribute to Upper Iowa's global vision. Outside of her professional goals, Bjork enjoys spending time with her family and cycling.
Ms. Alice has served as Center Director of Upper Iowa University (HK) Limited since August 2006. She started working in education following her graduation from the University of Science and Technology. Before becoming the Center Director for the UIU Hong Kong Center, Alice worked in a multinational company as a center director. With the passion and commitment to education service, Alice believes education can bring people a brighter future and improved one's quality of life.
She has more than seven years experience in a managerial role in education including strategic planning, program development, student enrollment marketing, recruitment, training and center operation. Alice's main focus for the UIU (HK) Center is to increase the awareness of its reputable U.S. degree in the local regions.
Click here to view a full list of our Hong Kong Center Staff
Mr. Kalai Ponniah
Malaysia Program Director
Dr. David Eicher
Lead Faculty for Hong Kong and Assistant Professor
Dr. David Eicher will serve as the Hong Kong Academic Coordinator. Dr. Eicher began his business career in 1966 in the telecommunications industry after serving 4 ½ years in the U.S. Navy, and has held non-management and management assignments in both line and staff positions up to the director level. Many of Dr. Eicher’s assignments were managing and directing the technical telecommunications network functions of both field operations and corporate strategic operations for over 35 years. Dr. Eicher was responsible, while working with GTE laboratory scientists, for leading the strategic direction of state-of-the-art technical network platforms using artificial intelligence and expert systems to automatically respond to telecommunications network trouble indications. Dr. Eicher completed his American Corporate career in 1992 and began his own business as an electrical contractor. He managed this business until retiring in 2007 to teach business and management classes at Brenau Womens College in Gainesville, Georgia, and ultimately at Upper Iowa University in Hong Kong.
Dr. Eicher earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Regis University in Denver Colorado, and his Master of Arts degree in Human Resources and Organizational Behavior at the University of Phoenix in Denver. He earned his doctorate in Management of Organizational Leadership from the AACSB accredited business school at the University of Phoenix. Dr. Eicher’s personal interests are reading, teaching talented students, and fishing when the opportunity arises.
Madalina Florentina Tincu
Coordinator for International Enrollment
Dr. Madalina F. Tincu is the Coordinator for International Enrollment (CIE) at Upper Iowa University (UIU), Fayette. She serves as the primary university contact for international students interested in studying with UIU and the primary resource for UIU on issues regarding international student enrollment strategies. She develops partnerships, programs, resources, and recruitment practices to assist with the implementation of the International Programs recruitment strategy. In cooperation with key Office of International Programs' (OIP) staff and other university offices, she also advises international students through enrollment and immigration processes.
Dr. Tincu earned her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Psychology/TESOL from the University of Northern Iowa. She also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and French from Ovidius University in Romania. Throughout her professional career, she has been dedicated not only to supporting students' success in education through international experiences but also to preparing students to live, work, and serve as global citizens. Her theoretical and practical knowledge of cross-cultural adjustment and communication has been enhanced by her personal and professional experience with study abroad and international experiential learning programs, providing her with the insights of a student, teacher, advisor, consultant, and coordinator.
Prior to beginning her role at UIU, Dr. Tincu was a University of Phoenix faculty member teaching business communication and college writing (2006-2011) and a program assistant for the Four-Country Study Abroad Program at the University of Northern Iowa (May 2011).
Ms. Kara Hanson has been a part of the Upper Iowa University (UIU) family since 2006. Among her multifaceted responsibilities as the Administrative Assistant for the Office of International Programs (OIP), are maintenance of faculty files, arranging accommodations for international visitors and assisting the Senior Vice President with special projects. Prior to her role in OIP, she served as the Administrative Assistant for Career Development, Counseling & Disability Services at Upper Iowa University. In both roles at UIU, Ms. Hanson most enjoys the opportunity to build relationships with students from all over the world in a small town environment.
Ms. Hanson holds an Associate of Arts degree in Professional Photography. In addition to her photographic interests, she has a passion for international missions and culture studies and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish Studies: Anthropology and Language. In her free time she enjoys reading, movies, kayaking and building LEGO creations with her son.