Meet the Team

Office of Faculty & Global Affairs Team

Newman headshot April 2015Meredith A. Newman is Vice Provost for Faculty and Global Affairs at Florida International University. In this role she works directly with the Provost to oversee all initiatives that support faculty, including recruitment, promotion and retention of faculty and other areas that relate to a professionalized faculty and career progression. Dr. Newman also oversees FIU Global, which centralizes the university’s global initiatives in regards to planning, facilitating, coordinating and initiating partnerships with international institutions and organizations. She serves as Chair of an FIU Global Council, made up of multidisciplinary representatives, whose mission includes facilitating the expansion of global learning programs and strategic global initiatives for FIU.

Dr. Newman joined the faculty as Director of the School of Public Administration and Professor in Public Administration in 2006. She subsequently served as Chair of the Department of Public Administration before joining the Dean’s office at the College of Arts & Sciences in January 2013 as Senior Associate Dean and subsequently as Vice Dean. Her successful academic career includes appointments at the University of Illinois Springfield and at Washington State University Vancouver. Prior to her career in academia, Newman served with the Australian Foreign Service, the U.S. Department of State, and the World Bank, including tours of duty in France, Viet Nam, Senegal, Malaysia, and Republic of Singapore. Dr. Newman is recognized as one of the leading experts in the field of public management and the emotive aspects of work. Dr. Newman’s books have won numerous awards. Her contributions to the profession have been recognized by a series of awards, such as the Lifetime Achievement in Public Human Resources Scholarship Award of the American Society for Public Administration. Dr. Newman is past Chair of the Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration; former Vice-President for North America, the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration; and Past President of the American Society for Public Administration. She is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

Birgitta “Gitta” Rausch-Montoto serves as Director of Faculty and Global Affairs. Her primary focus is on developing international and intercultural bridges between internal and external partners, implementing operational policies and procedures, and aligning the university’s strategic global efforts with institutional priorities. She serves on the International Travel Committee and administers the Global Business Travel Insurance coverage for employees. In her role as Fulbright Program Campus Liaison, she has supported dozens of faculty with successful award applications, boosting FIU’s overall participation in the program. Since 2014, she has been chairing the university-wide Textbook Affordability Task Force which implements initiatives to ensure college affordability and meet the State’s compliance requirements.

Gitta joined FIU in 2004 as Executive Assistant to the 4th President, Dr. Modesto Maidique. In 2006 she was appointed Chief of Staff in the Office of the Provost, leading the office staff, coordinating the Provost’s standing Deans and Chairs Advisory Councils and Operations Committee meetings, and managing Board of Trustees Academic Policy & Student Affairs committee agendas as well as senior level appointment searches. Between 2009-2015 she assumed the role of Chair of the Commencement Committee and successfully conducted over 80 grand graduation ceremonies.

FIU is Gitta’s two-time alma mater: she earned a Bachelor of Administration with a focus on International Business and a Master of Science in International and Intercultural Education. Before permanently moving to the United States, she was a banker (Bankkauffrau) by training in her native Germany. She is fluent in German, English and Spanish.

Patricia Rodriguez is the current Manager for the Office of Faculty and Global Affairs at Florida International University. As Manager, Patricia provides leadership in overseeing the day-to-day operations associated with the university’s faculty affairs portfolio. She works to centrally coordinate faculty development initiatives and programs, and works closely with the Chairs Advisory Council in support of the work of our department leaders. She supports the Administration’s collective bargaining efforts in negotiations with the United Faculty of Florida. Additionally, she completes research and analysis related to faculty and global affairs initiatives to ensure strategic alignment with office and university goals.

Prior to joining the Office of Faculty and Global Affairs, Patricia served as the Administrative Coordinator in the College of Arts and Sciences for Dr. Meredith Newman during her tenure as Vice Dean. She also served as the Coordinator for the FIU Foundation Board of Directors and administered in the organizational growth of the board, served as the secretary for the board meetings, enhanced the overall member experience and engagement, and heightened measures related to key documents and policies. Patricia earned both her Bachelors of Science in Social Work and her Masters of Public Administration from Florida International University (’09) (’12). In Fall 2018, she will begin the Ph.D. in Public Affairs at FIU.  Additionally, she is an active member within the American Society for Public Administration and the Section for Women in Public Administration where she currently serves as Chair of the National Awards Breakfast.

Lukas K. Danner is Postdoctoral Associate in the Office of Faculty and Global Affairs. His faculty-related tasks encompass supporting the Cuba Council, carrying out background research connected to university administration proposals, as well as assisting the administration bargaining team in FIU-UFF Collective Bargaining. Regarding global affairs, Lukas helps prepare international delegation visits, and does research related to international education metrics.

Prior to joining OFGA, Dr. Danner was Dissertation Year Fellow with FIU’s University Graduate School, Thomas J. Smith Non-Resident Fellow at the Institute for Humane Studies, Washington, D.C., and Teaching Assistant and Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations at FIU. Lukas also completed a student assistantship at Siemens Corporation, internships at the German Embassy Seoul, Republic of Korea, and the U.S. Consulate General Munich, Germany, as well as a year studying abroad at Beijing Foreign Studies University, China. Dr. Danner holds an M.A. in Sinology, American Cultural History, and International Law from the University of Munich, an M.A. in International Studies with a Graduate Certificate in Asian Studies from FIU, and a Ph.D. in International Relations from FIU. His dissertation focused on China’s grand strategy in a comparative case study of its diplomacy, economic policy, and military strategy. His research interests include China’s foreign policy, Arctic Affairs, EU-China, US-China, Sino-South Asian relations, and Security Studies more broadly.

Alejandra Parra is the Senior Director of the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) and Interim Director of the Office of Study Abroad (OSA).  In her role, she oversees the operations of the ISSS at the Modesto Maidique and Biscayne Bay campuses; and she is an integral member of the FIU team that promotes and supports the university’s continuous efforts for comprehensive internationalization. Dr. Parra has been in the field of international education for over thirty years. Prior to joining the FIU ISSS, she held leadership positions at Nova Southeastern University (NSU), first as Assistant Director of the International Career Development Center at the Fischler College of Education and later as Associate Dean for International Affairs. In 2010 she assumed responsibilities as Associate Director for the Office of International Affairs, which included oversight of the Office of International Students and Scholars, and ensuring comprehensive staff training and development for optimal support of international students and scholars and service excellence throughout every aspect of their academic experience in the US and at NSU.

Dr. Parra has taught as an adjunct instructor, given professional presentations at home and abroad, and published and edited publications. As an active member of international organizations, Dr. Parra has served as NAFSA Academy Coach, and she currently holds the position of chair for the Florida Association of International Educators. Her hands-on experience with inbound and outbound mobility and direct participation in academic programs, program development and international education initiatives, gives Dr. Parra critical leadership skills needed as we broaden and deepen our campus internationalization efforts. Dr. Parra earned a B.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language and also in Translation and Interpretation from the Córdoba National University in Córdoba, Argentina; an M.A. in Teaching English as a Second or Other Language (TESOL) from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, CA; and an Ed.D. in Instructional Technology and Distance Education from Nova Southeastern University with dissertation work that focused on  international cooperation in higher education.

IMG_9823Nancy Hernandez serves as the Director of the International Student and Scholar Service Office at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus. She has been in the field of international education for over 20 years. She advises international students and the university community on immigration issues, oversees the overall management of all programs and services at the Biscayne Bay Campus.

Prior to ISSS, Nancy worked at FIU’s Office of Admissions as Assistant Director of International Admissions. She was Assistant Director of International Admissions at Barry University prior to working at FIU, and was an Admissions recruiter for Fordham University in New York City. Nancy holds a Master of Education degree in Counseling and Personnel Service and a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish Literature from Fordham University. She has been a member of NAFSA: Association of International Educators and Florida Association of International Educators (FAIE) since 1987. Nancy is currently a NAFSA Trainer Corps member, and sits on the board of the Florida Association of International Educator as the Miami District Coordinator. She has presented multiple sessions at the state, regional, local and national conference and workshops.

IMG_9847Luis Sanchez serves as the Director, English Language Institute. In addition to holding an M.A. in TESOL, a B.A. in Spanish, and a Graduate Certificate in Linguistics, Luis has over 42 years of teaching experience. He has taught elementary school (grades 5 and 6), middle school (grades 7 and 8), high school (grades 9, 10, 11, 12), adult education, community college, and university-based conversational, academic, and intensive English programs. He also worked as TOEFL test administrator, cultural coordinator, and academic coordinator at FIU’s ELI before becoming director of said institute in 1992.

Although his administrative duties take up most of his time, Luis continues to teach and does not plan to stop until he retires. “Teaching is my passion,” he often comments. Having studied languages abroad, Luis has shared his own experiences with his students over the years and understands their fears, hopes, and dreams. He is a student-centered teacher & director. Luis has studied, lived, and worked in Amsterdam, Holland; Paris, France; Florence, Italy; Madrid, Spain; and Vienna, Austria. He speaks several languages, among them Italian, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.


Affiliated International Education Leaders

LU, PengPeng Lu is Associate Provost for International Programs. In the past decade he developed degree and training programs overseas, the largest being the FIU Tianjin Center for which he assisted to raise funds for a modern FIU campus in partnership with Tianjin University of Commerce. Currently there are about 1,100 Chinese students enrolled at the FIU Tianjin Center, while 150 are enrolled in Master programs at FIU in South Florida. The FIU Spanish program at Qingdao University in Qingdao, which aims to prepare Chinese professionals engaged in trade with Latin Americans, was established in 2014.

His ongoing projects include developing several models for international enrollment, the Academy for Sino-Latino Trade and Ningbo Technology Innovation Incubation Park of FIU. He has been promoting FIU on TV and online, and though seminars to thousands of university students, and he made great efforts to promote Miami as the hub for trade between China and Latin America and FIU as a bridge for Sino-Latino relations.

Dr. Lu, a Chinese citizen and US permanent resident since 1993, earned his B.S. from China Ocean University and Ph. D. in Physical Oceanography from Chinese Academy of Sciences in a joint program with Imperial College London after he won the 1988 Outstanding Young Scientist Award by the Royal Society of United Kingdom. He loves science and published more than 30 papers. He won the Science Annual Award in 1992 by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He had been an assistant and associate professor at Nova Southeastern University and University of Hawaii before he joined the FIU administration in 2002. He loves writing and published poems, essays and economic and political articles.

Judith Stewart and hilary LandorfHilary Landorf is the Executive Director of FIU’s Office of Global Learning Initiatives and an Associate Professor in the College of Education. Dr. Landorf currently also serves as Executive Director of the Comparative International Education Society (CIES), overseeing the society’s administrative office at FIU. She is also the program leader of the Master of Science degree program in International and Intercultural Education. Dr. Landorf holds a Ph.D. in international education from New York University, an M.A. in English literature from the University of Virginia, and a B.A. in English literature from Stanford University.

Dr. Landorf has held educational leadership positions throughout her professional career, which spans a variety of geographical, cultural, socioeconomic, and academic settings. Her previous positions include Director of Intercultural Institute for Educational Initiatives in the College of Education at FIU and the Administrative Director of the Multinational Institute of American Studies at New York University. Her expertise centers on visioning, developing, designing, and implementing the policies and practices of internationalization efforts in higher education. She writes, presents, and consults internationally on integrating comprehensive internationalization into higher education.

Among her recent publications is a case study on global learning at FIU in the NAFSA publication Improving and Assessing Global Learning, and “Global perspectives on global citizenship,” in contesting and constructing international perspectives in Global Education. In September 2018, her book “Making Global Learning Universal – Promoting Inclusion, and Success for All Students,” co-authored with Dr. Stephanie Doscher and Dr. Jaffus Hardrick, co-published by NAFSA, gained much attention as a handbook and replicable guide for implementation of global learning programs at other institutions. 


Mercedes Marta Ponce is Assistant Vice President of the Office of Academic Planning and Accountability. Ms. Ponce leads the review, edit and rewrite of university international agreements and Memoranda of Understanding. She has collaborated and provided oversight to over 120 agreements and Memoranda of Understanding, involving close to 45 countries in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe. She is responsible for working with academic units to ensure that all academic, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and business protocols are met to support viable international credit programming, including dual degrees, articulation, self-supporting off-shore programs, study abroad and faculty exchange agreements and summer credit academic study tours.

In the past, Ms. Ponce has also led the FIU International Agreements Working Group to ensure that best practices were in place to facilitate the processing of international agreements and memoranda of understanding. In recognition of her contributions to advance the international mission of FIU, Ms. Ponce has served on international and/or engagement task forces.  Ms. Ponce is also responsible for both on-campus dual enrollment and FIU’s dual enrollment program offered directly at South Florida high schools. She also leads select continuing education activities.

Ms. Ponce holds a Graduate Certificate of Higher European Studies from the College of Europe, Bruges, Belgium. The College is affiliated with the European Union. She has an MA in International Studies from American University, School of International Service, Washington, D.C., where she specialized in Latin American Studies and International Development.   Ms. Ponce holds a B.A. in History, Magna cum Laude from the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida.