Catharine Scruggs

executive director, Study Abroad

"During his tenure as Resident Director of CIEE programs in Brazil, Jacob impressed me because of his ability to assess program strengths and weaknesses, work with senior management to effectively re-create an international study center, build partnerships, and transform the curriculum around student-centered learning models.

From my perspective as Executive Director overseeing all study abroad programs for U.S. university students in 43 countries, Jacob’s successes speak volumes about his ability maintain and expand institutional relationships, manage staff, and solve problems proactively across languages and cultures.

Working across units and at times very closely with me, Jacob essentially took apart, rebuilt, and directed the organization’s entire study abroad operation in Salvador, Brazil, one of the organization's  most challenging operational climates. This was not a small undertaking, by any means, and Jacob was at the helm of major changes with groups of students on-site in a particularly complex moment for Salvador with staffing issues, a major strike that paralyzed the host-university, and increasing safety concerns for students.

Within a short period of time, however, Jacob used his diplomatic abilities to build strong relationships with local partners. With advanced proficiency in Portuguese and in-depth knowledge of Brazilian culture, he led the re-writing of an agreement with a leading host-university, opened ties with community centers for volunteer opportunities, and upgraded student safety by creating new policies and holding regular workshops with staff and students. He worked with local lawyers to ensure compliance with complex Brazilian labor law and managed the business legalization process.

In addition, Jacob designed multiple new courses, carefully considering the profile of students, industry trends and local resources. He hired and trained new professors, led teacher workshops at the language institute. When it was determined that the best path would be for the operation to have its own language and culture program in Salvador, he developed it, found the best teachers in the city, and put language learning at the center of all excursions and activities.

During this major period of transition in Brazil, Jacob designed and managed the renovation of the new center facility located in the most sought after section of the capital city. This move enhanced the profile of programs in Salvador and opened the way for Salvador to receive many Custom and Faculty-led programs as well as Faculty Development Seminars for US-based professors and international education administrators. With a long history in Cuba, Jacob also co-led a faculty development program on the island.

Jacob is a team player and a participatory leader who thrives in cross-cultural and inter-linguistic contexts, empowering staff that works alongside him.”

Max savishinsy

regional director of operations, Study Abroad

"No study center has experienced as much dramatic and challenging change as Salvador, Brazil and Jacob has done a marvelous job navigating the center and staff through very rough waters.

Jacob has been at the helm of major transformation in very challenging situations, including the broad reconfiguration of the study center. He has done an outstanding job of overseeing the transition from our old study center, host institutions relationships, financial management arrangement, staffing transitions, and redesign of many academic and co-curricular elements. These have been demanding, sensitive, and in many cases quite challenging transitions to manage and oversee, more so because they were all happening simultaneously.

The Bahia center and programs have effectively been transformed from being poorly managed and academically questionable to a much higher level of administrative and academic quality. Student services have improved significantly, and major general compliance and transparency issues have largely been addressed. 

Jacob has done a marvelous job working with students and staff and handling the diverse and complex issues that have been persistent in Bahia, and which still continue to appear on account of the challenges of running programs in Bahia and Brazil. 

Our operations and programs -- and most importantly the student experience -- have benefitted enormously from Jacob's presence and oversight of the center, programs, and attendant transitions."  

Dr. José Menezes

Dean of graduate school, Catholic university of SALVADOR (ucsal)

"Jacob Dyer Spiegel and I first met when he was Director of the study abroad center in Salvador, Brazil. When Jacob learned of my new assignment he came directly to my office and, from the dual perspective of a former study abroad participant and professional international education leader, explained to me in perfect Portuguese and in great detail the transformational 'poetic' (as he calls it) of study abroad.

Because of his ability to develop partnerships and the fascinating way in which he translated the educational philosophy of hands-on experiential learning, I opened the entire campus and its resources to his programs.  

Jacob and I forged a robust, new agreement and UCSal -- where I was Dean of the Graduate School and in charge of all university internationalization efforts -- became the official host university of his programs. The relationship deepened further when Jacob developed a new Portuguese for Foreigners Program and opened it to all students, even outside of his programs, so that students from all over the world could have access to excellent language and culture training. 

Jacob built an incredibly strong program in Salvador, a city that poses all kinds of administrative challenges, and I highly recommend him for any and all international program development, internationalization, translation, and teaching work. He is a catalyst in the field of global education."