Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University Selects Dean for Costa Rica Campus

Amanda Castro-Crist

June 27, 2019

Jeffrey Belnap, provost and senior vice president of the American University of Afghanistan, Kabul, will begin his new role Aug. 1.

Jeffrey Belnap, provost and senior vice president of the American University of Afghanistan, Kabul, has been named dean of Texas Tech University at Costa Rica (TTU-CR), the institution's first international campus. Belnap will begin his duties Aug. 1 and will be the first in the role at TTU-CR, which welcomed the inaugural class of students in August 2018.

Belnap was one of four candidates chosen from a large pool who were interviewed. His extensive administrative experience in dean- and provost-level positions, particularly with international campuses, made him a strong choice.

Jeffrey Belnap
Jeffrey Belnap

"From a strong pool of candidates, Dr. Belnap emerged as the top choice because of his extensive background and prior experience in international education," said Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec. "The interview in San Jose with faculty, students and our partners with EDULINK only served to confirm his selection. Dr. Belnap complements the vision we have for our program in Costa Rica, and we expect that his strong leadership will pay dividends for many years to come."

Schovanec announced the establishment of the Costa Rican campus in August 2016 after two years of planning through a partnership with EDULINK, a subsidiary of Promerica Group, a highly reputable, multinational conglomerate of companies operating in many Latin American countries. Just two months later, in October, the university officially broke ground in San Jose.

In November 2017, Texas Tech received approval to include TTU-CR as an off-site campus in the university's accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the regional accreditation body for degree-granting higher education institutions in the U.S., Latin America and other approved international sites. Once classes began in August 2018, a formal site visit by a SACSCOC team occurred that will lead to final approval later this year.

Belnap has served in various leadership roles throughout his career at universities around the world. At the American University of Afghanistan, Kabul, his duties include overseeing undergraduate and graduate programs, student services, accreditations and faculty and staff. He also assists the institution's president in university relations with the local government and U.S. government agencies, including the Department of State.

Prior to arriving at the American University of Afghanistan in 2017, he served at Long Island University (LIU) in New York as dean of the Global College in Brooklyn from 2013-17 and as acting dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 2016-17at the LIU Post campus in Brookville. During his time with the Global College, Belnap oversaw programming for students studying in centers and programs in several locations, including Australia, Costa Rica, China, Fiji, India, Italy, New York City, Spain, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey. He also designed and launched new programs in Europe and Asia and assisted in internationalizing the Brooklyn and Brookville campuses.

"Because I have spent a good deal of my career working in building international American or American-style universities overseas, the Texas Tech University-Costa Rica enterprise struck me from the start as being aligned with my background," Belnap said. "My family's connection to the region and my own research and teaching interests tied to Latin America also immediately attracted me to the TTU-CR position. What is particularly exciting about the TTU-CR opportunity is the chance to find innovative approaches to bringing the intellectual resources of a globally ranked university to bare on the development aspirations of one of the world's most innovative countries."

From 2002-2013, Belnap served in several leadership positions at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, including dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, associate provost of academic affairs and chief academic officer. He served from 1993-2002 at Brigham Young University's Hawaii campus as an assistant professor, associate dean of the Division of Fine Arts and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

"Dr. Belnap's experience in similar situations and his appreciation for the language and culture of Central America will allow him to hit the ground running and provide the leadership we need to grow our campus in Costa Rica," said Texas Tech Provost Michael Galyean. "I believe we will quickly see a significant increase in enrollment at TTU-CR under his leadership as well as a much stronger linkage between TTU-CR and our campus in Lubbock."

Belnap holds a bachelor's degree in international relations and a master's degree in comparative literature from Brigham Young University, and a doctorate from the University of California- Irvine in comparative literature and critical theory.

He has written, edited and been featured in several publications and has presented at numerous conferences about global learning and internationalization, among other topics. Belnap's past and present professional affiliations include the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the American Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences, the American Studies Association, the Latin American Studies Association, the Modern Language Association, the Modernist Studies Association and NAFSA: Association of International Educators and the College Art Association.

"I'm looking forward to working with Texas Tech's faculty to build a great experience for Costa Rican and Latin American students in San Jose," Belnap said. "I also hope that the Texas Tech landing pad in Costa Rica can become a platform upon which an extension of the university's research mission can be built. It is to Texas Tech's credit that at a time when many universities are stepping back from their international ambitions, the university is taking a bold and innovative step into the future. I feel a tremendous amount of excitement and gratitude in having been asked to join the Texas Tech community."