Steven L. Shaw, longtime UB staff member, advocate for international education, dies at 63

Published May 9, 2023

Steven Shaw.

Steven L. Shaw, associate vice provost and director of the Office of International Admissions, died May 2 at his Amherst home. He was 63.

A UB employee for more than 30 years, Shaw was considered by colleagues at UB and others in the international admissions field as a respected, knowledgeable and experienced professional who not only excelled as a practitioner, but who also trained and mentored fellow admission professionals — both from UB and other institutions — throughout his career.

“Steven was a diligent and meticulous individual, known for his thoughtfulness and strong work ethic,” says Joseph J. Hindrawan, associate vice provost for overseas programs and partnerships, and a longtime friend and colleague of Shaw’s. “He consistently exhibited great patience when communicating with prospective students and their parents, taking the time to listen and address their concerns. At education fairs, he was always the last university representative to pack up, ensuring that he answered all inquiries before leaving.

“Whenever I assigned a project to Steven,” Hindrawan says, “he approached it with utmost seriousness and always delivered a superb job. In addition to being an excellent colleague, he was also a close friend. His absence will be deeply felt.”

A native of San Francisco, Shaw grew up in Santa Rosa, Calif., and in Oregon. His first international travel experience was a trip to Switzerland as a young teenager for an international youth convention. His second experience was on a church mission trip to Africa as a high school student.

His interest in international education and exchange began after college, with a stint in the Peace Corps in Thailand from 1984-87, an experience that kindled a deep love for the Thai people, culture and language, and a passion for facilitating cross-cultural understanding. After the Peace Corps, he worked as a teacher of English and teacher trainer at Khon Kaen University in Thailand. He returned to the U.S. in 1990 to earn a master’s degree in TESOL at the University of Washington in Seattle.

He went back to Southeast Asia in 1992 as program coordinator for UB’s English Language Training Center at the Cambodia Development Resource Center in Phnom Penh, a position he held until 1994, despite challenging circumstances. During this period, civil conflict in Cambodia and the ravages of war and genocide were still very evident. Conditions worsened to the point that he had to return to the U.S.

Back at UB, Shaw found another opportunity to work in Southeast Asia through the Office of International Education, serving as director of the UB American Studies Degree Program in Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia, a program at Stamford College in KL that offered the first two years of a U.S. undergraduate degree for Malaysian scholarship students planning to transfer to U.S. institutions to complete their bachelor’s degrees.

In 1998, Shaw was named assistant director of international enrollment management, and a year later became UB’s first director of international admissions. As founding director and later associate vice provost, Shaw oversaw the creation, development and expansion of the Office of International Admissions, and by 2010, UB was among the top 10 U.S. institutions hosting international students.

That same year, Shaw was recognized for his contributions with a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service.

Shaw shared his expertise with other international admissions professionals and international recruiters, conducting workshops and training sessions across the country. He served as a consultant to universities in the U.S. and was a regular presenter at national conferences of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, AIEA: Association of International Education Administrators, and AACRAO: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

Outside his professional life, Shaw was an accomplished choralist, pianist and organist, who played at the weddings of family and friends, as well as professionally. He was an excellent student and avid reader. A loving son, Shaw traveled back to Oregon to care for his mother during an extended illness. He called and visited his father regularly, and always made an effort to return to Oregon for family reunions.

UB colleagues and students praise him for his unfailing professionalism, kindness, integrity and dedication to his work.

A memorial service will be held at a date to be determined.

Donations in Shaw’s name may be made to the International Admission Program, New Century Circle, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, 1425 K St. NW, Suite 1200, Washington, D.C. 20005.