The conception of an overseas ACAC began with Gene Wallach, Counselor at the International School of Geneva. In the early 1970’s ECIS was a small organization but colleges in the US were beginning to realize that students in ECIS schools were excellent. Students had discovered the opportunities which U.S. institutions offered them and there was already a steady flow of students going to the US. Pioneers like Bill Lammers, George Stoner, Karen Raftus-Lowe were already visiting ECIS schools. As the movement gathered momentum, problems and misunderstandings surfaced. The A levels were not understood and the International Baccalaureate was struggling to be accepted as a college level qualifying examination. Counselors and college admissions officers alike were frustrated. It was clear that some bridging organization was needed to permit dialogue on a wide basis to bring understanding to both sides.
At the NACAC conference in St. Louis in the early 1980’s a meeting was held to find a solution. Present were Charlie Marshall, Executive Director of NACAC, Gray Mattern, Executive Secretary of ECIS, Gene Wallach, Cyril Boschert, Peter Oehrlein, Peggy Templeton-Strong, a counselor from the Virgin Islands, and Doug Thompson. A discussion of an ACAC for overseas counselors was friendly; everyone present was favorable. Beyond that, there was no further plan or developments. The next year Charlie Marshall went to the ECIS conference in Brussels to gain a wider knowledge of ECIS schools. For two years afterward, there was no progress because of the realization that there were, seemingly, insurmountable obstacles in the way. ECIS had several proprietary schools as members and NACAC excluded proprietary schools.
Although there was continued interest and Frank Burtnett, the new Executive Director of NACAC attended an ECIS conference in Amsterdam to continue the dialogue, there seemed to be no solution to the difficulty posed by the NACAC by-laws denying membership to proprietary schools. Soon thereafter, Ted Washburn joined the fray; he was with an international foundation school but this changed nothing. The whole idea was on the point of being abandoned when Sandie Jamieson of the State Department encouraged us to continue and introduced us to Joyce Smith. Joyce had the vision and the courage to “take the bull by the horns” and matters were left with her.
The group continued to grow as more counselors from Europe began to attend NACAC conferences At the NACAC National Conference in New York City, during the time set aside for regional meetings a small group of international counselors found a closet in the maintenance area of the hotel to meet together to discuss common concerns. Ted Washburn, Cy Boschert and Peggy remained stalwart members. As Gene Wallach had passed away, Phil Thomas and Beth Linguri from the International School of Geneva carried on in his footsteps.
With Joyce Smith’s strong support and encouragement, the project charged ahead and at the 1992 conference in Los Angeles, Regina Manley, President of NACAC that year, with a great deal of tact and diplomacy proposed the amendment admitting proprietary schools to NACAC with the condition that the schools were accredited. Regina’s proposal was received with a moment of stony silence where all the ECIS Counselors present held their breath. The silence was broken by several college representatives who knew the schools and praised their excellence. The Amendment was approved. Overseas ACAC was born.
A great celebration followed and we had our first meeting as a regional association during the conference. Ted Washburn assumed the presidency with faithful Peggy Templeton-Strong supporting him as Secretary. Deborah Dostert became our trusted treasurer, which seemed to carry with it a lifetime appointment. As Ted wrote in his letter to prospective members, “For a good number of years quite a few of us have thought about and acted upon the notion that international counselors, and the wonderfully diverse and talented students we serve, need and deserve a voice in NACAC.” Now we had this voice, a regional affiliate, the Overseas Association.
The first year, Ted Washburn led us in the creation of a set of by-laws. While the European counselors were instrumental in the creation of this organization, it was clear that the counselors in Asia, Africa and South America had similar issues. Membership began to grow. The presidency of the organization was passed on to Mary Anne Sullivan of The International School of Brussels who initiated the first summer meeting held around the table at The George Washington University in Washington DC in the summer of 1994 at the end of the ECIS counselor tour.
Phil Clinton was instrumental in getting the regional association to become a participant in the national association activities, especially the leadership council and the legislative meeting in Washington and this has continued. OACAC had delegates who attended the legislative assemblies and initiated many motions to encourage the awareness of members of the organization to the difference and needs of our students. Beth Linguri was the first of our past-presidents to become a member of a national committee (Professional Development) and this led to many of the NACAC materials and conferences having reference to international students. Pete Hauet continued that tradition and also took on the important role of membership chair.
Fast forward to 2012 and you will find that we have grown in many ways, possessing a strong voice in both NACAC and international admissions. We have had numerous members serve on national committees, our annual conference is the largest of all affiliates, and this year one of our members, David Allen of Univisits Ltd., has been elected to the NACAC Board of Directors. Although our's is a short history, it is nonetheless a dynamic one!
Thanks to Beth Linguri and Peggy Templeton-Strong for providing the historical information.
Past Presidents and Conferences