Machoian named UW-Madison’s first international safety and security director

In today’s global environment, international travel has become a more frequent and far-reaching part of higher education, from faculty attending professional gatherings or conducting field research to students participating in study abroad programs, internships, or service-learning overseas.

While relatively safe, traveling outside the United States still comes with a variety of concerns and considerations.

To help ensure safe and trouble-free travels for faculty, staff, and students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the Office of Risk Management in the Business Services Office recently created the position of international safety and security director (ISSD) to focus on these issues.

Ronald G. Machoian, who started October 1 as UW–Madison’s first ISSD, comes here from the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he served in a variety of capacities, most recently as director of institutional culture, climate and diversity. He also has served as the academy’s director of international programs, an assistant dean of students, and assistant professor of military and strategic studies.

Ron Machoian
Ron Machoian

Machoian has had international experiences both as an educator and in his duties with the U.S. Air Force. He has worked alongside foreign government and military personnel and represented U.S. Air Force Academy interests and educational initiatives to foreign institutions of higher education, U.S. Embassy staffs, and foreign governments. He has negotiated and guided international programs and educational opportunities in some 60 countries. He is also an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow and spent his Fellowship year in the office of the president at Colorado College.

He has a Ph.D. in history and educational leadership and policy studies, and a M.A. in history, from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a B.S. in surveying engineering from California State University, Fresno.

The ISSD position was created at the recommendation of the University International Travel and Safety Committee (UITC), which the Provost’s Office formed in 2009 to address policies and resources regarding international travel by students, faculty and staff.

The ISSD office, located in Bascom Hall near the Division of International Studies, is taking on the task of providing information, resources, and support for members of the UW–Madison community going abroad and coordinating efforts to ensure safety and best practices for international travel. Among the key roles of the ISSD is coordinating university response to overseas emergencies involving UW–Madison students, staff, and faculty.

“I see the ISSD role really as a campus resource,” says Machoian, “one that can help frame international experiences—strengthening opportunities while helping travelers to better understand and minimize risk.”

Machoian also will provide leadership in implementing UW–Madison’s International Travel Resources, Guidelines and Policies document, newly drafted by the UITC.

“The administration and operational functions of the University’s international activities will remain with the units that sponsor faculty, staff, and student travel abroad,” explains Richard Gibbs, director of the Office of Risk Management. “The ISSD will provide best practices and guidance on matters dealing with the health, safety, and security of the University’s interests abroad.”

“The creation of this position serves as a good example of several units coming together to identify a need for services and then proceeding to address that need,” says Guido Podesta, vice provost and dean of the Division of International Studies. “Having an international safety and security director is a great addition to our campus.”

For current UW–Madison travel policy:

– by Kerry G. Hill