The University of Iowa

Roles and Responsibilities of Faculty Directors

Scope of the Roles and Responsibilities

The Faculty Director of a study abroad program is much more than an average faculty member. Classroom teaching and research alone do not prepare a Faculty Director for successfully directing a study abroad program. The Faculty Director is not only a teacher in this situation but serves as an administrator, leader, interpreter, decision-maker and diplomat. A Faculty Director’s day does not end when class is over. A Faculty Director must be able to uphold and implement institutional policies from UI while at the same time taking advantage of the differences present in a foreign setting. But, a faculty member need not be too afraid of this large task as they can rely on the support systems present at UI which will share the burden of these responsibilities. This chapter outlines the primary responsibilities of the Faculty Director, not only with regards to student services and academics on-site, but also related to program planning, budgeting, administration, recruiting, and logistics.

Shared Responsibilities Faculty Director/Department/Study Abroad

Shared responsibilities may include: setting itinerary for the program; making arrangements for housing, meals, classroom facilities, excursions; recruiting students. Division of labor for these aspects will vary from program to program and will be mutually agreed upon early in the planning process. Safety and emergency procedures are also shared between the Faculty Director, Study Abroad and other UI offices.

The Planning Stages

The Faculty Director submits a program proposal to the Study Abroad Faculty Advisory Committee to gain approval for a new program. The Faculty Director and his/her academic department are responsible for the academic content of the program. The main developer of the program is the Faculty Director, which makes him/her the best recruiter as well. Study Abroad assists in program development and recruitment as necessary.

Prior to departure

Study Abroad will assign a primary administrative coordinator from their office to be the contact person working on the specific program. The Faculty Director will work closely with their coordinator to lay groundwork for program logistics and budget. The Faculty Director will make final selection of participants and conduct orientation meetings with students.

Study Abroad responsibilities include establishing program budget, preparation of informational materials, supplying and processing applications, letters of acceptance and other required forms, registration and billing of participants, collection of application fees and deposits, admission of non-UI participants, and overseeing enrollment. The Study Abroad office will produce flyers and schedule information tables and class visits if requested.

During The Program

While the program is in session, the Faculty Director serves as the facilitator for all communication between the University of Iowa Study Abroad office, the hosting institution or agency abroad (if applicable) and program participants. The Faculty Director is expected to carry out the responsibilities of the position set forth below, and to make decisions that are in the best interest of the program and its participants.

The Faculty Director must learn to balance a wide variety of responsibilities and roles including those of group leader, intermediary, advisor, administrator and advocate. The Faculty Director serves as a liaison for the different elements of the program: Study Abroad, participating students, host families or housing officers, local clinics, institutions, agencies and facilities, and the host culture in general.

The faculty director holds the position of administrator and financial manager on-site which includes such duties as making/confirming logistical arrangements, making payments, managing funds, and keeping financial records. The Faculty Director is expected to behave as a trusted representative of the University of Iowa (and the Iowa Regents) abroad and employ dignity, decorum, tact and discretion in both public behavior and the private handling of student problems and concerns.

At his/her discretion, the Resident Director may delegate tasks, but retains ultimate responsibility for all of the following:

Academic component

  • Teach courses, if applicable
  • Coordinate all academic aspects of the program, including hiring, supervision and compensation of other instructors or lecturers
  • Communicate with Study Abroad regarding academic issues (quality control of classes, students performing below expected level etc.)
  • Assign and/or collect grades at conclusion of program and forward to the Study Abroad office in a timely manner
  • Develop an evaluation form specific to the program and oversee completion of that form by students at the conclusion of the program, then submit to Study Abroad


  • Provide to the Study Abroad office prior to departure: a program itinerary, participant, director and program staff contact information, and copies of all information given to students
  • Serve as liaison between Study Abroad and on-site institutions, agencies, staff etc.
  • Serve as liaison between program instructors and Study Abroad as needed
  • Maintain contact with students throughout the program, counseling as needed on issues of cultural adjustment, conduct, and other non-academic issues
  • Consult with Study Abroad as needed concerning student problems and concerns throughout program
  • Inform Study Abroad immediately of any emergency or medical situation involving students
  • Provide Study Abroad with regular updates on program activities throughout program
  • Submit a written report to the Study Abroad office within three weeks of the conclusion of each program cycle
  • Communicate regularly with Study Abroad year-round as needed with regard to planning and preparation for future programs

Student Orientation/Management

  • Organize orientation (in cooperation with Study Abroad if conducted prior to departure) and contribute to the pre-departure orientation and/or in-country orientation immediately following arrival of students. The orientation should include all of the following issues: program administration, communications, relevant university facilities, public transportation, health/safety, program rules/behavioral expectations, group dynamics, the host country educational system, academic expectations, cross-cultural adaptation, cultural differences, and living with host families
  • Depending upon the length and nature of the program, schedule and conduct on-site one-hour meetings at least every other week to provide further information on the local culture and issues of cultural adaptation
  • Establish a leadership role and positive group dynamic, provide assistance to students as needed, serve as the intercultural facilitator for students (liason between home and host cultures)

Extracurricular Activities

  • Organize lodging, meals, transportation, guides and entrance fees for excursions to be conducted in locations of cultural/historical interest (as indicated in program budget)
  • Plan, arrange and attend social events and local cultural activities as the program warrants and the budget permits


  • Make payments from program budget for host families, excursions, and other legitimate program expenses
  • Obtain receipts for all expenditures based on Study Abroad accounting guidelines
  • Provide financial accounting reports at the conclusion of each program cycle, including original receipts for all expenditures, to the University of Iowa according to deadlines stipulated by Study Abroad. See “Accounting Guidelines” in this manual for further instructions.

Study Abroad is responsible for disbursing budgeted amounts to the director, making advance payments, submitting travel requests, preparing advances for the director and staff, reconciling the advance following the program, and other non-payroll financial aspects of the program.