Home > About > Contact


International Studies and Programs
Michigan State University
International Center
427 N. Shaw Lane
Room 207
East Lansing MI 48824-1035
Tel: +1-517-355-2350
Fax: +1-517-353-7254
Website questions:
Driving directions (PDF)
Patrick Arnold Advisor
Center for Gender in Global Context

206 International Center

Laura Ballard Peace Corps Coordinator
Peace Corps

International Center, Room 202B

Opal Leeman Bartzis Executive Director
Office for Education Abroad

105 International Center

Read Biography

Biography: As executive director of education abroad, Opal provides vision for the education abroad office and leadership for all aspects of the education abroad experience at MSU. In addition to managing education staff units, she actively engages faculty and offices across campus in the institutional aim of cultivating globally engaged citizens.

Opal came to MSU from twenty years at the Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University, where she was Vice President for Academic Affairs, overseeing curriculum development, faculty engagement, and student success, and instructor of Exploring Community and Culture in a Global Context, a unique course that engaged students studying in varied countries in online intercultural learning communities known as “global cohorts.” She also worked in Ireland for three years as a resident director, looking after over 300 students per semester and managing institutional relationships with nine Irish universities. Through her work at IFSA-Butler, she is credited with being the first education abroad administrator to adapt an academic advising/positive psychology practice known as appreciative advising to education abroad.

Opal studied abroad on multiple programs, including an academic year in Switzerland and a short-term program in Russia, and she was part of the first student diplomatic mission to Lithuania following the political end of the Soviet Union. She has an honors bachelor’s degree in German and a master’s degree in history (both from Butler University), and a doctorate in adult, higher and community education from Ball State University, where her dissertation evaluated the impact of engaging in student teaching abroad on the development of culturally sensitive instructional practices. Through professional and scholarly experiences, she has developed her expertise in areas such as inclusive pedagogy, experiential education, and academic ethics across cultures.

Some of Opal’s recent publications include chapters titled Student Teaching Abroad: Intercultural Learning in Context and a Changing Approach to US Teacher Education Preparation, Innovative Approaches to Study Abroad at Harper College and Fox Valley Technical College, and Study Abroad: Toward Fulfillment of a Critical Need for More Culturally Sensitive Volunteers. Opal has held multiple regional and national leadership positions with NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the Forum on Education Abroad, and is the current chair of the Study Abroad Committee of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO).

Wenda Bauchspies Co-Director for Research and Engagement
Center for Gender in Global Context

206 International Center

Maria Beam Executive Secretary
Office for Education Abroad

109 International Center

Read Biography

Biography: Maria Beam supports the executive director with general day-to-day operations of the office, which includes managing the Executive Director’s calendar and providing support with planning and scheduling meetings and appointments, organizing and maintaining the Executive Director’s files, documentation and records, and attending meetings and events with/on behalf of the Executive Director as requested and taking notes as needed. Maria also provides support for the Education Abroad Council meetings, Education Abroad Leadership meetings and any other committee/group meetings as requested by the Executive Director.

Maria has been at MSU since 2003, beginning as receptionist, transitioning into an enrollment management specialist and now the assistant to the director. She has provided administrative support for the Global Internship Conference and attended conferences in Toronto, Ontario and Dublin, Ireland. In her free time, Maria enjoys spending with her family in Charlotte, Michigan. She has also participated in mission trips to France, Guatemala and Mexico.

DeAndra Beck Associate Dean for Research
Office of the Dean

207 International Center

Read Biography

Biography: DeAndra Beck is associate dean for research in International Studies and Programs at Michigan State University (MSU). She co-chairs MSU’s Council of Research Deans and has created the Global Innovations in Development, Engagement, and Scholarship (Global IDEAS) initiative at MSU.

Dr. Beck previously served as a program director in the U.S. National Science Foundation's Office of International Science and Engineering, with responsibility for NSF’s Developing Country initiatives and the Middle East and Africa portfolios. At NSF, she co-managed Science Across Virtual Institutes, a mechanism to foster global partnerships among NSF awardees, and she served on NSF's INSPIRE working group, a pilot that has become NSF’s RAISE mechanism to solicit and fund transformative, multidisciplinary research.

Prior to NSF, Dr. Beck served as the acting managing director for environment and social assessment at the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation. Previously, she served as assistant director for policy, U.S. Forest Service International Programs, where she represented the interests of the U.S. forestry community in international negotiations. These positions flanked her foray into the private sector as chief executive officer of a biotechnology start-up company. Dr. Beck held positions as an international research administrator at the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and as a AAAS Fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development. She earned a B.S. (cum laude) and PhD in biochemistry from Texas A&M University.

Cheryl Benner Communications Manager
Office for Education Abroad

109 International Center

Read Biography

Biography: Cheryl Benner oversees information, public relations and marketing activities for the Office of Study Abroad. Cheryl works with the executive director on overall communications strategy and is responsible for the development of printed publications, digital communications (including the web and social media), and coordination of special events. She networks with units across campus, such as the Office of Admissions, to maintain positive relationships in order to promote study abroad at various campus events and orientations.

Collaborating with the university-level communications office, Cheryl ensures all communication maintains a consistent brand image. She also serves as the initial media contact for the office, and oversees all aspects of data collection, analysis and reporting for education abroad.

Cheryl has co-presented at the local and regional levels on interactive media, the Generation Study Abroad initiative, education abroad for under-represented student populations, and the effective use of technology in student advising. She holds a BA in Advertising from MSU and brings more than 20 years of experience in outreach and marketing at a large public institution.

Christine Bilfinger International Student/Scholar Advisor
Office for International Students and Scholars

105 International Center