Prof. Jeff Thompson
Chair of AIE 2001 – 2008 & 2011 – Jan 2020.
In July 2001 Jeff invited a small number of representatives from influential international education organisations to come together at Bath in the education faculty. There was not at this first gathering a pre-determined agenda or outcome, but it was a fascinating weekend which culminated in Jeff asking if it would be worth following up this experience with an open conference the following year. There was of course enthusiastic agreement with this idea, and a year later the Alliance was born with a formal gathering in Geneva. Jeff's innovative format facilitated a creative and collaborative framework for discussion of evolving issues within international education, proving to be beneficial and illuminating to all constituents. This format has endured and inspired the ‘strand’ structure which remains the foundation of all AIE Conferences.
In reality Jeff’s time as Chair of the Alliance for International Education began at that initial meeting in 2001, for although it was not at that time formalised, the commitment and vision which evolved from that initial gathering of like minds birthed the AIE. Jeff has enjoyed two long terms as Chair, from 2001 – 2008 and again from 2011 to the meeting of Trustees in January 2020. During this time Jeff has overseen the coordination of eight conferences in far-flung regions of the world, reaching out to communities committed to furthering the important work of international education. He is a tireless and demanding leader with high expectations of himself firstly and then others, in order to ensure the best conference possible. The extraordinarily positive feedback received from these conferences each time, is a tribute to not only the whole team’s efforts of course, but to the tireless leadership of Jeff.
As our chair, Jeff has on many occasions been deliberately provocative, and then smiled while watching the ensuring debate that inevitably delivered an outcome reflecting a deeper collective wisdom! He never leaves debates or differing opinions without resolution and is always generous in his summary of ideas and support of all perspectives. His commitment to AIE is a true inspiration to all Trustees, and to all who have enjoyed the opportunity of meeting and chatting with Jeff at the many countries and forums globally where he tirelessly continues to commit to the ideals of the AIE.
Put simply, Jeff has been the Alliance for International Education. He has been the voice of it, the conscience of it, the engine of it and the face of it. Like all of the best leaders, he has, throughout, been supportive, energetic, challenging, inspirational and aspirational.
The world of international education, and the AIE in particular is indebted to Jeff for his vision, energy and commitment over many years to the ideals of international education. We thank and salute him and look forward to his continuing contribution as a non-executive Trustee of the AIE.