Dr. David A. Schmidt


Office of the President


Currently, Dr. Schmidt is honored to serve as president of  The American University in Dubai (AUD) a top-ranked American styled university with US and UAE accreditation, situation in one of the world’s most competitive, and cosmopolitan, markets for higher education, Dubai.

Dr. Schmidt has over thirty-two years of broadly-based experience as an executive academic leader and faculty member at a range of institutions, public, private, a state system and international, representing the landscape of higher education. Affiliated with two Ivy league universities, Harvard and Yale, as a student and administrator, he has degrees from University of Wisconsin-Madison, The Ohio State University and Saint Louis University. After serving as the founding coordinator of the Fox Fellowship Program at the Yale Center for International and Area Studies, he returned to the University of Wisconsin to lead the University of Wisconsin System’s Institute for Global Studies, UW-IGS.

As Director of UW-IGS, Dr. Schmidt created the framework that became the Statewide International Education Council to articulate the importance of international education and to maximize the benefits of the state’s social, economic, and cultural progress. The Council included the Governor, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and representatives from all twenty-six intuitions and serves nationally as the prototype that integrates international education at all levels of public instruction into a state’s long-term strategic and economic goals. This impactful pioneer approach established UW-IGS as the role model of campus internationalization for US higher education and also highlighted the importance of diversifying faculty and student populations.

He also has led the transformation of several campuses ensuring that international education and experience are integral parts of the curriculum and a shared vision forward. His strategic implementation of an experience abroad as an expectation for all students by aligning majors and minors with departmentally approved education abroad programs as part of “international” degree plans or academic maps has been set innovative standards.  This, in conjunction campus-wide course redesigns has been instrumental in globalizing classrooms and the campuses in the United States and abroad.

At each stage of his career Dr. Schmidt has been responsible for the campus or system-wide development and administration of international programs including strategic planning, policy development, marketing, public relations, campus diversity and fundraising. His fiscal leadership includes oversight of complex budgets and resources, authorship of grants, and extensive development experience.

During his storied career, Dr. Schmidt has implemented strategies and provided administrative leadership that is both visionary and entrepreneurial. This has been leadership that truly globalizes a multifaceted institution’s structure by focusing on the classroom, research, diversity and service. It is the leadership that infuses global education and research into the curriculum and the very fabric of a campus. He has challenged the typical and traditional approaches to what it means to be international and has been successful with an engaged and collaborative approach that fosters clarity and reciprocal accountability. This approach, he has discovered, impacts a university’s core culture, elevates expectations and has lasting institutional change.

Regarding his life as a “global nomad,” he has had the privilege of having worked at, or studied at, 16 different universities in 5 different countries, 6 different states and 15 different cities worldwide. This unique multi-cultural, diverse and global background has served him well in his role as a forward-thinking and globally inspired leader.

As part of his leadership, Dr. Schmidt has embraced and promoted diversity, equity and inclusion and has initiated actions that have resulted in real results and change. In California and Tennessee, he implemented the official acceptance of and pathways for “undocumented” students. The process initiated at University of the Pacific in 2005 was unprecedented and predated the UC and CSU systems issuing formal policies or practices by five years. In Tennessee the initiative, implemented in 2012, serves as the successful landmark process for admitting undocumented and DACA students. The commitments and actions took vision along with courage and in each case helped create “an institution in which diversity is embraced, valued, celebrated, and welcomed.” The foundation of his foray into international education administration was to provide an experience, a global experience, to all students – US or international, inbound or outbound – and, in this aspect his leadership in education is a steadfast example of what so many institutions are attempting to address and achieve only now with equitable, inclusive, and diverse programming and initiatives. His embrace of DEI as “a means of achieving a set of evolving objectives” has been an integral part of his leadership for the past thirty-two years.

Dr. Schmidt a strong academic and professional background with numerous publications and presentations in addition to experience as a full professor with tenure.  His groundbreaking and trailblazing book entitled Broken Silence: ianfu-the comfort women of the Japanese Imperial Army (Edwin Mellen Press, 2000) is the first seminal academic text in English that utilizes Japanese and Korean language primary sources in addition to interviews with former ianfu and U.S. and Japanese military personnel.  He has written extensively on post-WWII issues regarding women’s rights and education in East Asia.

A recipient of the AIEA (Association of International Administrators) Presidential Fellowship, the Korea Foundation Research Fellowship at Yonsei University and the Mombushō Fellowship at Tsukuba University and Chiba University, he also served as a fellow in Harvard University’s IEM (Institute for Educational Management), a Board member of CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation) and as a CEO/President Reviewer for SACSCOC (The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges).



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