What Is The Institute of International Education?

Treasures of New York: Institute of International Education premieres Thursday, February 28 at 8 p.m. on WLIW21 and Sunday, March 3 at 7 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

The Institute of International Education (IIE), a non-profit based out of New York City, has made a global impact by changing the lives of thousands of students, rescuing hundreds of imperiled scholars, and setting the course for a brighter future.

In celebration of its centennial, Treasures of New York: Institute of International Education will trace the history of this distinguished organization, shedding light on its major accomplishments over the past hundred years to promote international education and empower the global exchange of ideas. From managing some of the world’s most prestigious scholarships, to its programs that support scholars in crisis, viewers will get an in-depth look at the work of this organization, and learn about the impact its programs have had on people’s lives.

Institute of International Education History

The Institute of International Education was established following World War I by Columbia University President Nicholas Murray Butler, former Secretary of State Elihu Root and College of the City of New York professor Stephen Duggan, who wanted to promote the value of foreign exchange. In 1919, they received a $30,000 grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York to found the Institute in New York City.

Before becoming a journalist, Edward R. Murrow got his start at IIE, serving as the assistant secretary of the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars. In this role, Murrow played a major role in the rescuing of some 300 scholars from the Nazi invasion that was spreading across Europe.

In 1946, the U.S government passed legislation introduced by Sen. J. William Fulbright, to create an international education exchange program that would be run through the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. That legislation became known as the Fulbright Program. The State Department has partnered with IIE to administer federal programs for over 70 years, sponsoring over 400 thousand American and foreign participants.

Institute of International Education Today: Highlights

English Teaching Assistant Jess Vaughn with students in Sri Lanka, 2010.

English Teaching Assistant Jess Vaughn with students in Sri Lanka, 2010. Credit: Courtesy of the Fulbright Program

IIE manages more than 200 academic exchange programs with participants from more than 185 countries.

The Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund arranges and funds fellowships for threatened and displaced scholars worldwide. Building upon IIE’s legacy of assisting students and scholars under threat, IIE created this endowed fund in in 2002, and has since supported nearly 800 scholars from 59 countries.


Treasures of New York explores New York’s cultural heritage by spotlighting its points of interest, distinguished establishments and notable figures.