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The Founding & History of MCIE

and how do you pronounce it?
October 2, 2023
5 Minute Read

If you are lucky enough to live in the metro-Milwaukee area, there is a local support group for those of us needing help with our international student population and their emotional, medical, financial or other crisis management.

Confused group under a pronunciation query for 'MIX-E' or 'EM-SEE-EYE-E' against an orange backdrop.

Where do you turn when you have questions about a tricky credential evaluation issue? Or wonder how to report an unusual situation in SEVIS?  What about immigration problems with an enrolled student? Is there a local support group for those of us needing help with our international student population and their emotional, medical, financial or other crisis management

If you are lucky enough to live in the metro-Milwaukee area, the answer is YES!

For those of us employed at one of the myriads of institutions in Southeastern Wisconsin (such as Marquette, UWM, Concordia, MATC, MIAD, Carrol College, and many more) we have a monthly meeting called MCIE. MCIE is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is one of the longest standing councils of its kind. With an emphasis on international education, MCIE meets once a month when school is in session and gathers professionals working in international education to discuss our current hot topics and areas of concern.
As an original member of MCIE, ECE Founder Jim Frey had a front row seat as to how and why this organization was formed, and what the motivation in maintaining it has become. I recently had the opportunity to ask Jim some questions about the formation of MCIE. The following interview took place over a series of emails:

1. Do you remember the motivation for forming MCIE?

NAFSA was established in 1948. About ten years later, a consultant concluded that NAFSA would never achieve any national influence if it wasted its energy on regional, state, and local activities. So NAFSA eliminated everything except national activities.

In 1964, another consultant concluded that NAFSA would never achieve significant national influence unless it could demonstrate that it had broad nation-wide support. So NAFSA decided to set up eleven (later twelve, still later eleven) regional sub-organizations.

In November 1964, NAFSA sent two representatives to Milwaukee, for a meeting at UWM, to determine whether people in Wisconsin would be willing to join people in Illinois and Michigan to form NAFSA Region V. Those present, from Madison and Waukesha and (mostly) Milwaukee said yes. A byproduct of that meeting was the establishment of three state NAFSA organizations: Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, each of which organized its own annual conference and occasional workshops.

2. When and where was the first meeting?

Wisconsin NAFSA members from the Milwaukee area decided they would benefit from interaction more frequently. The informal Milwaukee Council for Foreign Student Affairs [MCOFSA] resulted (pronounced McCoffsa). Active members represented  Carrroll College, MATC, MSOE, Mount Mary College, MU, UWM, the International Institute, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS], and a few immigration attorneys. MCOFSA met once a month, except not in January, June, July, or August. Each organization represented took a turn as host, including INS.
The first meeting was held in 1965, probably at Marquette.

3. What is the TRUE definition of the acronym? Urban legend provides the following options:

•    Milwaukee Council of International Educators
•    Milwaukee Committee of International Educators
•    Something else?

The name MCOFSA later was changed to Milwaukee Council for International Education [MCFIE] (pronounced McFee), and even later to Milwaukee Council of International Educators (or Milwaukee Council for International Education)

4. Do you pronounce it “Mix-E” or “Em-See-Eye-E”

[MCIE] (pronounced Em-Cee-Eye-Eee).  

It seems the motivation for organizing this particular group was because NAFSA wasn’t interested in regional or local focus at the time of inception. However, we have all benefited from the various regional support NAFSA now offers.  In fact, many of us will be attending regional conferences soon! Perhaps that is a good time to find out if your particular region has an even smaller council such as MCIE that you can join. The localized information sharing is a benefit of all us should have access to.

If you are one of the Connection users that lives in Southeastern Wisconsin and would like more info on MCIE, or to be included in future meetings, please reach out the Jennifer Singer at to be added to the listserv.