Dr. James Callaghan to lead international programs at UNCP


Dr. James E. Callaghan, a veteran of international programs in higher education, is UNC Pembroke’s new associate vice chancellor for International Programs.

James CallaghanDr. Callaghan comes to UNCP from Philadelphia University where he was chief international officer and director of study abroad programs. He has established programs around the globe for study abroad and international student and faculty exchanges, said Dr. Charles Harrington, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. 

“The University is indeed very fortunate to have been able to attract Dr. Callaghan to Pembroke,” the provost said. “His wealth of knowledge and successful experiences in the international arena are very impressive and will be of great benefit as we continue to develop our international exchange and study abroad programs.

“He has proven ability to build some truly great international programs.  I fully expect him to increase his track record here,” Dr. Harrington said.

Dr. Callaghan said there are many challenges to building international programs, but they pale in comparison to the benefits for students, their families, faculty, businesses and the surrounding communities.

“International education gives students a taste for what they could become and where they could live,” he said. “Our goal is to train students to be, for example, a CEO anywhere in the world.”

With a Ph.D. in art history and considerable experience living, studying and teaching abroad, Dr. Callaghan is proficient in Italian, French, German, Spanish and Latin and is studying Arabic and Greek.

At Philadelphia University (formerly Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science), Dr. Callaghan initiated programs in China, Italy, Australia, Germany, Japan, Scandinavia, Scotland, South Africa, and the Caribbean. On his upcoming UNCP travel itinerary are stops in China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Italy.

“I’m looking to give UNCP a global footprint by building partnerships,” he said. “When I started at Philadelphia University, we were sending about 30 students abroad per year. Today, about half of the graduates have studied abroad.

“In some ways, Philadelphia University students are similar to UNCP students, with many first generation college students,” Dr. Callaghan said. “The general view there, initially, was that it was a university where study abroad was not going to work.”

Dr. Callaghan said international programs became a drawing card for the university. He hopes to build on UNCP’s relatively new international presence.

“I was attracted to UNCP because it is a place where I can have an impact on the lives of students by invigorating our programs,” he said. “I hope to establish an office that will work closely with students and their parents.”

Dr. Callaghan said the “fear factor” – separation from home and family - for studying abroad is understandable, and the job of a good International Programs office is to prepare students and their parents for the experience, and give them superior support.

“I’m very big on customer service,” he said. “International programs in higher education live through results.”

The first few weeks on the job have gone well, and Southern hospitality is not overrated, Dr. Callaghan said.

“This has been the easiest transition I’ve had,” he said. “The campus is friendly, and I feel very much at home here.”

Although he spent seven years at Philadelphia University, Dr. Callaghan has already made several other transitions in higher education. A native of Michigan, his father chaired the philosophy department at Michigan State University, where Dr. Callaghan earned a Bachelor and a Master of Arts in the history of art.

A Ph.D. from Temple University, where he wrote his dissertation on frescoes by Raphael in the Vatican, led to teaching assignments at the Rome campuses of Temple and Saint Mary’s College, and an interest in semiotics in the visual arts.

“I’ve spent about half my life in Italy, and while teaching in Rome, I became interested in curriculum development and how we could best use the international setting as a teaching and learning laboratory.”
Dr. Callaghan has been successfully building learning experiences abroad ever since.

For more information about international programs at UNCP, please call 910.775.4095 or email ip@uncp.edu.