Meet Daniel Palm, Associate Vice President for Global Affairs

Jan. 19, 2022

A sign of University of Arizona's commitment to growth and leadership in international higher education.



Daniel Palm, University of Arizona’s Associate Vice President for Global Affairs, joined the Arizona Global leadership team in 2021 to direct the development and operations of large-scale international programming.

When Brent White, then Vice President of Global Affairs, Dean of Global Locations, left the University in January 2022, Palm’s duties and responsibilities expanded.

With White’s departure, Palm, along with JP Jones, Dean of Global Education, will oversee the continued development of the university’s international student recruitment and the global Microcampus network, and will promote the growth of study abroad programming and international student services in support of the campus community.

“Daniel brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this role which is pivotal to providing expanded opportunities for global education for our students, to address the Pillar 4 objectives of the University’s strategic plan,” Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Liesl Folks said. “He knows first-hand the life-changing impacts that international experiences can create for students.”

“Daniel is an innovative leader in international higher education today,” says Brent White, former vice president and dean, Arizona Global. “He joined the global leadership team at an important time, and I am confident that he will be a driving force in developing and growing our international relations and programs around the world.”

Palm, who is proficient in Mandarin Chinese, brings fifteen years of international higher education experience to his new role. He joined the University of Arizona from Northern Arizona University (NAU), where from 2016 to 2021 he was Associate Vice President for Global Initiatives and the university’s senior international officer.

With a Master’s in Leading Innovation and Change from York St. John University in York, England, Palm has devoted his career to cultivating global partnerships, building overseas operations, launching dual degree programs abroad, developing study abroad programs, and growing international student enrollment.

“We are all aware that the current international situation presents many challenges to the work we do as international educators,” says Palm. “Experience has taught me that opportunity and challenge go hand in hand, and I look forward to working together with the campus community and with our partners worldwide to continue to turn challenges into opportunities.”

During his years in global education leadership roles, Palm has overseen the development of large-scale, in-person and online programs, initiated numerous dual degree programs, installed university representatives in six countries, established representative offices, and has grown student enrollment to record levels.

As a speaker at regional, national, and international higher ed conferences, Palm addresses topics relating to innovative international programing, interdisciplinary education, and preparing graduates for a complex and competitive world. He is often invited to comment on innovation in education and how educators can help prepare students to thrive in a globally connected world.

Palm is on the Board of Directors of the Arizona-Mexico Commission, an organization chaired by the Governor of Arizona to build trade relationships with Mexico and improve economic prosperity and quality of life in the shared border region. In 2021, Palm was a Fellow in the Arizona Center for Civic Engagement at the Flinn Foundation.

“It is our obligation and honor as international educators,” says Palm, “that we endeavor to improve our communities and prepare the next generation to realize their full potential as informed and active members of society.”


Palm was born in Flagstaff and grew up in Cottonwood, Arizona. As a teenager his curiosity developed into a focus on China that led to him pursuing a major in History and Asian Studies at NAU, and to one of the most transformational experiences that many students will have: studying abroad.

As a sophomore, he went to China and stayed for a total of five years, two of which were spent engaged in research and study. In addition to his degree courses, Palm enrolled in an intensive program to learn Mandarin Chinese at Beijing International Studies University. He spent weeks at a time in remote mountain and farming communities to gain a unique first-hand view into minority communities in China, immersing himself in the language and culture.

“Languages can inform us about culture in deep and meaningful ways,” says Palm of the experience. “My years of studying Mandarin Chinese gave me insight into the varied cultures of China. I learned about the people, about the way in which they think about grand challenges, the way they think about themselves and their place in the world. The experience enriched my understanding of the world and of myself.” 

The potential impact and importance of studying abroad, Palm believes, is that the experience can be transformational and profound for every student, affecting not only who they are and who they become, but also what they will do in the world. “The impact on the next generation,” says Palm, “can fundamentally change the trajectory of a human life, bringing personal and professional opportunities, and creating interconnectivity across generations and cultures.”


Palm’s language expertise and cultural competency were put into practice when, shortly after graduating, he was hired to oversee NAU’s China operations. He helped build NAU’s presence in the country over the following months and years and was at the forefront of creating and launching groundbreaking dual degree and large-scale in-country programming in China that would set standards in international higher education.

Upon returning to the U.S. Palm became China Program Coordinator and Assistant to the Director of the Center for International Education (CIE) at NAU. In addition to creating programs for American students to study in China, he developed many opportunities for students from China to study in the United States, making Northern Arizona a trusted destination for international students.

Building trust with global partners is an ongoing process, and Palm spent 4-5 months every year for 8 years in Asia, cultivating university partnerships and creating new and unique programs.

In 2012, the CIE was awarded NAFSA’s Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization, an award that recognized NAU’s unique contribution to international higher education and for making significant progress toward comprehensive internationalization using innovative and creative approaches.

As global operations in Asia grew and became more successful, NAU created the Office of Asian Academic Engagement, and Palm became the university’s first Director of Asian Academic Engagement in 2013. During his tenure as Director, Palm established an office in Beijing to oversee strategic initiatives and facilitate relationships with institutional partners throughout Asia.  He also established new initiatives in Vietnam, India and Sri Lanka, and a program of U.S. faculty teaching and research on partner campuses.

From 2016 to 2021 Palm was the Associate Vice President for Global Initiatives and Executive Director of the Center for International Education, advancing NAU’s vision for campus internationalization.

During his tenure as AVP, Palm directed NAU’s international initiatives and helped grow their programs and international rankings and reputation. The university’s study abroad portfolio expanded and NAU became sixth in the nation for long-term study abroad.

A driving factor in this ranking was the tremendous growth and success of the award-winning and cutting-edge Interdisciplinary Global Program (IGP).

Students in the IGP take 5 years to complete an engineering or STEM degree, with one year spent as an undergraduate in a non-English speaking country – i.e. Germany, France, Spain, Japan, or China. In addition to relevant coursework during their time abroad, students participate in an internship in their related industry. This innovative opportunity for immersion in both a second language and their STEM discipline is an uncommon combination that promotes interdisciplinary education and develops global competencies.

In 2017 the CIE received the IIE Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education.


Palm met his wife, Lily, while studying in Beijing, China. Born and raised in Switzerland by parents who had escaped Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge, Lily was studying in Beijing through the University of Geneva. The two graduated from NAU together. Lily, who speaks five languages, is currently pursuing a Master’s in Management at Harvard University. They live in Tucson, AZ, with their two sons.

Palm’s career and personal experiences in international higher education and his personal connection to other cultures have, as he describes it, woven ‘international’ into the fabric of his life.

In his role as Associate Vice President for Global Affairs, Palm will continue to create new programs abroad, building on the Arizona’s Microcampus model of outstanding global partnerships and increasing the diversity of the international student population both abroad and on the university’s Tucson campus.

“The University of Arizona is an outstanding institution with a long and rich history of international engagement. I believe that education is the answer to a better future, and I am pleased to be a part of leading the university’s growth worldwide.”