Ensuring student/faculty safety abroad

Publication Date

Andrea Bordeau '06

MAJOR: Anthropology
CURRENT POSITION: Global safety and security manager, Vanderbilt University

Andrea Bordeau '06 has a job that’s crucial to any college with a study abroad program.

Andrea Bordeau ’06 with husband, Brent Williams, and son, Ewan Bordeau-Williams.

Andrea Bordeau ’06 (right)

The global safety and security manager at Vanderbilt University since January, she describes her position “as primarily having two parts – the pre-departure training and risk assessment piece, and the crisis and incident management piece. Much of what I do is proactive and involves looking at programs to assess risk and developing training for students and faculty leaders.”

“Making sure that we’ve done all we can ahead of time is the goal,” Bordeau continued. “With that said, things go wrong. Natural disasters, civil unrest, accidents, medical incidents, and everything in between happens. When it does, I serve as the point person to coordinate the response.”

And that response is rarely to terror attacks, a common fear for many people. But this isn’t the greatest concern for Bordeau or her peers with similar jobs in higher education.

“There is a false perception that the world is less safe today than ever before. The truth is that road safety is still the greatest risk to students abroad,” Bordeau said. “Terror attacks definitely draw attention but that is not what drives the need to have safety and security to support international education.”

“The idea is not to become risk averse and limit opportunities for students, but instead to be more prepared and expand our understanding of, and engagement with, the world,” she continued. “I’ve had the opportunity to work at two prestigious universities where there are essentially no finite limits to where students and faculty will go to engage in exceptional study and research.”

Before joining Vanderbilt, she was at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, serving in a very similar role.

“I’ve worked through the incidents in Paris and Brussels as well as an earthquake in Nepal, a coup in Thailand, and the Ebola crisis in West Africa,” Bordeau said. “I’ve coordinated medical and security evacuations when necessary and have helped support the universities I’ve worked with through many difficult situations. This work is incredibly rewarding and there is always an opportunity to learn from the challenges.”

At Union, Bordeau participated in a mini-term to Jamaica. She was also an anthropology major, which “was the perfect foundation for my future. I went on to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Tel Aviv University in Israel to complete my graduate work in African Studies, Middle East History, and Security Studies.”

“I’m very much the product of international education and it has had a wonderful impact on my life,” Bordeau added. “Being able to support these experiences for others is a great privilege.”


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