NAFSA was founded in 1948 as the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers to promote the professional development of U.S. college and university officials responsible for assisting and advising the 25,000 foreign students who had come to study in the United States after World War II. The academic institutions, government agencies, and private organizations that combined to form NAFSA knew that meeting the needs of diverse students required special knowledge and competencies.
Name Change and a Broader Scope
The association’s scope soon expanded to include admissions personnel, English-language specialists, and community volunteers who played an important role in helping foreign students acclimate to U.S. college communities. To reflect this growing and increasingly diverse membership, in 1964 the association changed its name to the National Association for Foreign Student Affairs.
NAFSA experienced a breakthrough in its federal government relationships in 1976 when John Richardson, then assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, changed the State Department’s interpretation of funding for NAFSA. This gave the association the opportunity to not only fund activities that advanced foreign student issues, but also to advance study abroad issues.
NAFSA’s Annual Conference and Expo continue to serve as the preeminent unifying destination for the diverse voices of international education to gather each year. The event offers attendees the most expansive views, segmented learning opportunities, and engaging networking events. Each year, nearly 10,000 attendees participate from more than 100 countries.