If there's anyone on campus who is considered to be the University's diplomat to the world, it's Betty Flinchum.
A visit to her office tells her story well. It is filled with memorabilia and mementos from places around the world where she has visited for various University projects.
Through her personal diplomacy, Flinchum has created linkages throughout the international community. Over the past 10 years, she has extended the University's work to Africa, Belize, Britain, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, France and Slovakia.
Her work has made UNF a more worldly place. The international student population has increased to 485 students from nearly 100 countries. UNF has alumni in about 140 countries. She also has been instrumental in bringing high level foreign dignitaries to campus. Some of her most memorable experiences include the presidential dinner for Costa Rician ministers, the breakfast with Japanese Fulbright Scholars and the reception for the Foreign Policy Forum last February.
Although Flinchum has been the director of the Office of International Programs for the last 11 years, she has served the University in many other capacities. Flinchum was a founding faculty member in the College of Education and Human Services. "I came to UNF because it was an opportunity to develop a new university and I thought that it would be an interesting challenge in teacher education," she said.
Flinchum received her undergraduate training at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro followed by her master's degree from the University of North Carolina and did her doctoral work at Louisiana State University. The international flavor of her life was evident early. She was an exchange scholar to England in 1959-60 and has a reading and speaking knowledge of French and Spanish.
Her expertise has been sought outside the University. She represented the State University System on the education council of the Governor's Florida International Affairs Commission and the Mayor of Jacksonville's International Trade and Economic Development Steering committee.
The fruits of Flinchum's work can be seen during every graduation ceremony when international flags line the UNF Arena. Each flag is for a country represented on campus. Many of those flags are diplomatic markers to Flinchum's jet-setting career.