The Salzburg Global Seminar, founded in 1947, is an international, nonpartisan, educational organization dedicated to the recognition and development of tomorrow's leaders. The work of the Seminar brings together individuals from all parts of the world to explore topics of global importance through intense dialogue and the open exchange of ideas.

In 1997 the Salzburg Global Seminar started, with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Universities Project (UP): a six-year commitment to underwrite a program designed to bring together senior-level university administrators, government ministers, and senior academics from CEE and RF with colleagues from Western Europe and North America for practical discussions on university administration, governance, and finance. The purpose was “to establish networks among and between university colleagues from East and West, share best practice models of university stewardship, and re-create the important transatlantic linkages and free flows of ideas concerning universities and their role in civil society that had been disrupted for so long.” (Salzburg Seminar, Universities Project Final Report, 1997-2002)

The UP's aim was to promote the higher education reform process, as universities in CEE and the RF redefine their relationships with governments and try to become more integrated into the global intellectual community. From 1997-2003, the UP organized a symposium each year for (future) higher education leaders from CEE and the RF, together with colleagues from North America and Europe on the themes that are the focus of the UP:

  • University Administration and Finance
  • Academic Structure and Governance within the University
  • Meeting the Students' Needs, and the role of Students in Institutional affairs
  • Technology and Higher Education, and
  • The University and the Civil Society.

For more detailed information on the Universities Project see Final Report 1997-2003.

In the fall of 1998, with the support of the W.K.Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) the Salzburg Global Seminar launched the Visiting Advisors Program (VAP) in order to apply, on the level of individual institutions, the concepts related to reform of higher education in CEE and the RF. The VAP includes two target audiences: senior administrators of universities in CEE and the RF (host institutions) and senior administrators of universities in North America, Europe (West, Central and East) and the Russian Federation (visiting teams). The VAP is based on a cross-sharing approach, follow-up contacts, and hand-selection of teams; the VAP is client-driven.