Michael Stopford is an international higher education and strategic communications expert with extensive knowledge of the global education, public, private and non-profit sectors. Whether for universities, international organizations or multinational corporations, Michael has focused, in particular, on issues of human rights, democracy-building, development and human security.
Michael was appointed Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Affairs at the University of Nebraska – Kearney (UNK) in February 2015. He is the institution’s senior international officer and leads UNK’s development in international affairs. He is responsible for international strategy and the university’s global engagement. Michael also directs and oversees UNK’s Office of Study Abroad, English Language Institute, Office of International Admissions and Immigration Services, and the university’s International Outreach and Partnership Programs.
Previously based in Washington, DC, Michael served as global corporate strategist for Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s largest communications agencies. He also headed the firm’s global higher education practice. He advised major private and public sector clients on strategic communications, global public affairs, stakeholder engagement and multi-sector partnerships as core platforms for managing corporate reputation and the corporate brand. He counseled the leadership of some of the world’s major universities and institutions of higher education on reputation and communications; global engagement; recruitment; institutional branding; crisis communications and evolving issues such as online education.
Michael’s previous private sector experience includes heading Group Corporate Reputation for The Coca-Cola Company at their headquarters in Atlanta; heading Global Public Affairs for Syngenta, the leading international agribusiness at their Basel, Switzerland, headquarters; and corporate Issues Management for ExxonMobil at their Dallas headquarters.
In the international public sector, Michael’s most recent position was as Dep. Assistant Secretary General for Strategic Communications for NATO in Brussels, where he introduced new digital and social communications, launched NATO-TV and also headed the Science for Peace and Security program, the Alliance’s largest civilian funding partnership. In earlier international public service positions, Michael led Media and Public Relations for the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation. He also held senior assignments with the United Nations, including Chief of Staff for the UN in Geneva and the UN Human Rights Center, serving in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General and heading the UN Washington office. He has led humanitarian and electoral assistance missions to Albania, Nicaragua, Iraq and Nigeria. Michael began his career with the UK diplomatic service in Vienna and at the UK Mission to the UN.
In international higher education, Michael served as Senior Assistant to the President of American University in Washington, DC, and is a Trustee of various higher education institutions. He has taught international relations and communications at Georgetown School of Foreign Service, American University’s School of International Service, Johns Hopkins SAIS, Tirana’s New York University and currently teaches the Master’s program at Milan’s University of Media and Communications (IULM). He is on the board of the University of Denver’s Korbel School. With a BA and MA in English Literature from Oxford University, Michael is fluent in German, Italian, French and Spanish, with some Russian.