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NASH Announces New, Historic Partnership with Every Campus A Refuge (ECAR)

September 27, 2022

First such partnership will directly support all public higher education systems wishing to serve as welcome campuses for newly arriving refugee families 

For Immediate Release: September 26, 2022

Contact: David Belsky; 347-227-0055;

Greensboro, N.C. – The National Association of System Heads (NASH) today announced a new partnership with Every Campus A Refuge (ECAR) at the conclusion of ECAR’s annual Gathering at Guilford College where it was established in 2015. Founded by Dr. Diya Abdo, ECAR encourages every college and university to partner with its local refugee resettlement agencies to temporarily house refugees on campus grounds and assist them in resettlement.  The underlying concept is a simple one: all university and college campuses have everything necessary – housing, food, care, skills – to take in refugees and support them as they begin their lives in the United States.

“I was inspired to create ECAR by the words of Pope Francis who, at the height of the Syrian refugee crisis in 2015, called on every parish in Europe to host a refugee family,” said Dr. Abdo. “ECAR similarly calls on colleges and universities to do the same. Such support for refugees provides a softer landing and stronger beginning for our newest neighbors.” 

ECAR is partnering with NASH and its Refugee Resettlement Initiative (RRI) to train interested and committed faculty and administrative staff on how to draw on university and community resources in order to assist a refugee family during its first, transitional months in the United States. The new NASH partnership means that all NASH members can receive free of charge, certificate-bearing training on how to establish an ECAR chapter on their campuses, and how to effectively advocate for refugee resettlement ecosystems with higher education institutions (HEIs) at their center.

All ECAR volunteers utilize close campus connections to assist and host refugees, and students draw on their disciplinary and interdisciplinary training to contribute to this effort. ECAR provides an opportunity for a mission-based and place-based high impact experiential education for students who are curious to learn about an important global issue at the hyperlocal level.  This important work will be duplicated and expanded to all interested systems in conjunction with NASH.

Both organizations are committed to supporting the tens of thousands of refugees striving for a brighter and more successful future in the United States, by increasing their access to educational opportunities, supporting their economic mobility, and improving the quality of their resettlement experience.  Universities can and are playing an important role in the redesign of refugee resettlement in the United States.  And refugees and their families, if set up for success, can and do contribute to the prosperity of this country.

“Our goal is to have all NASH system campuses choose to establish an ECAR chapter,” said Dr. Colleen Thouez, founder of the RRI at NASH. “This is because their students, staff, and communities want to play a part in actively supporting and learning from refugees and their families when they first arrive here.”

As HEIs engage with diversity, equity, and inclusion movements, it is expected that there will also be a more robust focus on training campuses and their communities to support the welcome, inclusion, and belonging of newcomers as well. Both NASH and ECAR consider these trainings as an essential component of anti-racism, diversity, and inclusion awareness raising that campuses and their communities are currently undertaking.  This effort also aligns with NASH’s Equity Action Collaborative and its essential equity practices.

The ECAR trainings for NASH campuses will be developed in Fall 2022, and delivered in Spring 2023. A Community of Practice will be launched in Summer 2023. Contributing to the momentum of ECAR’s vision and potential, the DRK Foundation just pledged $25,000 for the establishment of an ECAR chapter at one of NASH’s members, the State University of New York (SUNY). The SUNY ECAR chapter will add yet another essential system to ECAR’s expanding network across the country.

“ECAR is an excellent program – created and lifted by a second generation refugee herself, Dr. Diya Abdo,” said Dr. Nancy Zimpher, director of the Power of Systems. “With the Power of Systems, NASH is perfectly positioned to support its national roll-out, as our systems see the value of stepping up and responding to one of the greatest challenges of our time, namely, the rising number of forcibly displaced people. As the United States reasserts its role in global refugee protection, I see NASH’s systems as excellent partners in supporting refugees’ access to what they will need to succeed as new Americans.”

About the National Association of System Heads

Founded in 1979, the National Association of System Heads (NASH) represents chief executives of the 65 public higher education systems in the United States. Member institutions work collaboratively to advance innovation and change in public systems of colleges and universities. To learn more about NASH and its national initiative, the Power of Systems, visit

Media Contact

David Belsky