Who Am I?

Mark A. Ashwill, Ph.D., Co-Founder & Managing Director, Capstone Vietnam

maaI have spent my entire career as an international educator and educational entrepreneur working in the public, non-profit, and private sectors in three different countries.  I am currently the Managing Director of Capstone Vietnam, a full-service educational consulting company with offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).

Capstone is the only company in Viet Nam, and probably the world, that works exclusively with regionally accredited institutions of higher education in the US and officially accredited schools in other countries. It has a unique business model that addresses the needs of institutional and individual clients.

From 2005 to 2009, I served as country director of the Institute of International Education in Viet Nam.  Prior to that, I was director of the World Languages Institute, adjunct lecturer, and Fulbright program adviser at the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY/Buffalo).

During 1994/95, I worked as a primary researcher on the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) Case Study Project in Germany, Japan and the U.S.  I was a Research Associate at the University of Michigan’s Center for Human Growth and Development (CHGD) and a visiting scholar at the Goethe University Frankfurt and Northwestern University.

Among other work, I edited and contributed to The Educational System in Germany: Case Study Findings and co-authored the chapter on “The Development and Implementation of Education Standards in the United States” that appeared in The Educational System in the United States:  Case Study Findings.

It was my privilege and honor to have worked with the late Dr. Harold W. Stevenson, the project director and a professor at the University of Michigan at the time.  Dr. Stevenson was a developmental psychologist whose comprehensive studies in the 1980s showed that schoolchildren in Asia outperformed US American children often because they simply worked harder.

In 2003, I became the first US American to be awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialist Grant to Viet Nam.  I have served as an adviser to VietAbroader since its founding in 2004, am a member of the advisory board of Teachers for Vietnam, a U.S.-based non-profit organization, and a member of the advisory board and co-founder of College Scout, a Hanoi-based ed-tech startup.  I’m the only foreign member of the Science and Training Council of the University of Education, Viet Nam National University, Hanoi.

I’ve written and presented widely on issues related to Viet Nam, US-Viet Nam relations, Vietnamese studying overseas, international student recruitment, accreditation, international student access and equity, the use of education as a tool of soft power, global citizenship education, and the development of intercultural competence.   I am the author of Vietnam Today: A Guide to a Nation at a Crossroads (with Thái Ngọc Diệp), which was published in 2005 by Intercultural Press (now Nicholas Brealey Publishing).  This substantive introduction to Vietnamese culture and society has been widely cited.

In 2009, I co-authored a book chapter entitled “Developing Globally Competent Citizens:  The Contrasting Cases of the United States and Vietnam,” (with Dương Thị Hoàng Oanh) that appeared in The SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence (ed. Darla Deardorff).  I’ve been an external reviewer for the Comparative Education Review, published by The University of Chicago Press, and am currently one for the Journal of Studies in International Education, published by Boston College (US) and La Trobe University (Australia).

My work has been published by the BBC, The Buffalo News, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Comparative Education Review, CounterPunch, Forbes Vietnam, The Huffington Post, for which I’m a blogger, International Educator (NAFSA), ICEF Monitor, Inside HigherEd, International Higher Education (Boston College), The PIE Blog, University World News, Vietnam Full Disclosure, VNExpress International, and World Education News & Reviews (WES), among others.

In Viet Nam, I have been interviewed and/or quoted by the following media outlets: VTV1, 2, 4, 6, HTV, Thanh Nien, Tien Phong, Tuoi Tre, VietnamNet, Giao Duc Viet Nam, Lao Dong, Soha.vn, Saigon Times Online, Vietnam Economic Times, CPVVietcetera, VNExpress International, the Voice of Vietnam, Zing, among others.

I have been interviewed and/or quoted by the following foreign (non-Vietnamese) media outlets:  Casper Star-Tribune (WY), The Chronicle of Higher Education, College Times, CNN International Business Traveler, CounterPunch, The Daily NNA (Japan), Financial Times (of London), Honolulu Star Bulletin (HI), ICEF Monitor, IIE Networker, IIE research publications (e.g., Globally Mobile Youth: Trends in International Secondary Students in the United States, 2013-2016), International Educator, The PIE News, TechTrends, University World News, USA Today, etc.

I have presented at numerous conferences in Viet Nam and the US based on submitted proposals and by invitation.  The four most recent presentations are:

  • 2nd Annual Strategic Recruitment Workshop in Halong Bay. 19-21 June 2017.
  • Keys to Successful Non-Commission-Based Recruitment in Vietnam, NAFSA: Association of International Educators annual conference, 2 June 2017, Los Angeles, CA.  Chair and panelist.
  • Riding the Wave: Student Recruitment in Vietnam, a free, unofficial pre-NAFSA annual conference workshop, 29 May 2017, Los Angeles, CA.  
  • Introducing the Elephant in the Room: US Nationalism, Annual Conference of the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA), February 2017, Washington, D.C.  Chair and panelist.

I earned a Ph.D. in Comparative and Higher Education from the SUNY/Buffalo Department of Educational Leadership and Policy, where I studied with Philip G. Altbach, Harold J. Noah and Gail P. Kelly, among others.  I hold M.A. and B.A. degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) and the University of Delaware, respectively.  I also studied, taught, and conducted research in Germany, including the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

I am a member of NAFSA:  Association of International Educators and the Fulbright Association.