Service to the Homeland Award Salutes Director
International Student Services Chief Helped Plan Talks on Mandated Program
Aug. 29, 2008
Cristen Casey, director of the International Student Services Office, is among 12 people in higher education chosen to receive the prestigious Service to the Homeland Award from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) organization.
Casey and her peers were chosen for helping the agency coordinate, notify and host town hall meetings about the importance of the congressionally mandated Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
The meetings were called this spring when ICE announced an increase in fees for international students, scholars and exchange visitors. The fee increases are the first in five years and are expected to enhance the SEVP. The individuals receiving the award worked with ICE to host events at their schools for hundreds of academic practitioners around the country to discuss the reasoning behind the increase.
The Southwest portion of the tour, which was held at UT Dallas, included about 150 participants from Texas and surrounding states, including Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
“I’m honored to have accepted the award on behalf of the University,” Casey said. “It’s an acknowledgment of the strength and technological prowess of our international student services program. To be able to be part of the new programs unveiled by Homeland Security and to work on such initiatives in collaboration with other universities across the country and with our government has been a rewarding experience.”
The SEVP collects, maintains and distributes data so that only legitimate foreign students or exchange visitors gain entry to the United States. Since SEVP’s inception, the academic community has worked alongside officials from the Department of Homeland Security to provide feedback to help make the system more user-friendly and functional, while ensuring that national security needs are met.
UT Dallas’ International Student Services Office houses international student programs, international student advising and student health insurance services for more than 2,000 international students from approximately 90 countries.
ICE annually recognizes individuals and groups for outstanding contributions to the agency and the nation.