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Imara Dawson

Chief Administrator and Managing Director

Office Information:

Weiser Hall, 500 Church St., Suite 300
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
phone: 734.763.9200

International Institute; ASC Faculty; African Studies Center; II Admin; II Staff


JD, Indiana University
MA, Public Administration, Indiana University
BA, History, Hampton University

Mr. Imara V. Dawson is the Managing Director and Chief Administrator of the International Institute (II) at the University of Michigan. The II houses 17 centers and programs focused on specific world regions and global themes. The International Institute also houses four undergraduate majors and eight minors and a Masters in International and Regional Studies. Mr. Dawson manages the daily operations of the International Institute, including: developing short- and long-term planning for the business affairs of the institute; negotiating and implementing all human resources actions regarding hiring, terminations, salary, and disciplinary actions; exercising broad fiscal and administrative responsibility for the institute; facilitating the research initiatives of faculty and staff; recruiting, training, and supervising administrative staff for the institute; and supervising a large staff of exempt and non-exempt employees.

Mr. Dawson serves as a Board Member and Public Policy Chair for the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), with a three-year term beginning in February 2023. He oversees the AIEA Public Policy Committee, which works closely with several organizations for legislative issues, including the Coalition for International Education and the Alliance for International Exchange. The committee also focuses on the impact of recent changes in international relations on international education and new restrictions and oversight of international engagement.

Prior to working at the University of Michigan, Mr. Dawson served as Executive Director and Senior International Officer at the Rinker Center for International Programs at Ball State University (2013-2017). In this capacity Mr. Dawson provided administrative leadership and oversight of four administrative units within the Rinker Center for International Programs: Office of International Admissions and Recruitment, Office of International Student Services, Office of Study Abroad, and Office of International Academic Engagement and Global Initiatives. In addition, he provided strategic vision and advice in working with faculty and administrators to internationalize the curriculum. 

Prior to working at Ball State University, Mr. Dawson served as Associate Director of the Office of International Programs at Chicago State University (2005-2011). In that capacity, he managed programs to promote internationalization and global visibility for the university, including planning, implementing and coordinating programs and activities, and administering policies and procedures within the office. He also served as the Assistant Program Director for the USAID-TLMP/Ghana (2005-2011). Textbooks and Learning Materials Program (TLMP) was an $18.5 million project, funded by the Africa Education Initiative (AEI) and implemented by USAID, which focused on challenges relating to a lack of textbooks and other learning materials in Ghana. In addition, at Chicago State from 2001-2005, Mr. Dawson served as the program coordinator of a $3.5 million USAID-funded South African capacity-building grant called the South Africa Area Initiative (USAID-SAAI).

Mr. Dawson has also worked for Agricultural Business Systems, now the Africa Breeders Service-Total Cattle Management (ABS-TCM) in Nairobi, Kenya on a USAID-funded agri-business grant whose purpose was to assist in the privatization of the Kenyan Dairy Industry, and was Managing Director for Global Providers LLC, a private company that dealt with the import and export of agricultural goods to Africa. Also in Kenya, Mr. Dawson worked on development programs that developed the first Kenyan Digital Private Data Network and with ICT companies like the World Space Foundation and the Kenyan Education Network. He continues to serve as a trustee on the board for ABS-TCM in Nairobi.

Mr. Dawson holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree with an emphasis in International Business / Trade, International Law and International Intellectual Property (1998) and a Master’s degree in Public Administration with an emphasis on public and private partnerships within the context of International Development (2000), both from Indiana University-Bloomington. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree (cum laude) in History (high honors) from Hampton University (1995), with an emphasis on pre- and post-colonial African history. Mr. Dawson’s research areas include examining the relationship between the public sector, private sector, and non-governmental organizations as a model for international development in developing nations.

Mr. Dawson is a child of a former Peace Corps Director (Fiji, Tanzania, and Swaziland), and as such he has lived all over the world. He is also a 2015-2016 Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) Presidential Fellow and is a current member of the AIEA Strategic Issues Committee.

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