The Office of International Education (OIE) was established on the CU Boulder campus in 1959 largely through the efforts of W. F. Dyde.  Dean (of Students) Dyde operated the Office on a part-time basis from 1959 to 1961. The mission of the Office at this time was to analyze the role of the University of Colorado in relation to the international scene and to advise faculty and students about international opportunities, to administer scholarships such as Fulbrights, to host visitors from abroad, to coordinate agreements between CU Boulder and international universities, and to process U.S. government forms, questionnaires, surveys related to international exchange.  The first official, bilateral student mobility program appears to have been an exchange between the University of Colorado and the University of Erlangen in Germany that was inaugurated in 1954, even before OIE was established, and lasted until 2004. 

Initially, the Foreign Student Office was a separate office; part of the Office of Special Services and not part of the Office of International Education.  The first sizeable contingent of international students at CU Boulder can be traced back to 1920. Approximately 25 students made up that group and this number remained fairly constant until after World War II. In 1946 the number of international students increased to 45, then to 103 in 1948, with additional increases each year so that in 1965, there are approximately 400 international students from 80 countries at the University.  Fred Chambers was appointed as the first foreign student advisor in 1947. The position was half-time until approximately 1952, when it became full-time.

In 1960, CU President Quigg Newton convened a Conference on the Responsibilities of the University of Colorado in International Education to decide how CU would become a key figure in this growing area of higher education.  Among the faculty invited were W.F. Dyde and Harold Amoss, director & future director of OIE; Henry Ehrmann, chair of what became the Study Abroad Committee; and George Lessor, international student advisor.

In 1961, Professor Harold Amoss took over the administration of the Office of Interna­tional Education on a full-time basis. The mission and functions remained the same as those under Dyde except for the addition of the administration of CU education abroad programs. Upon recommendation by Dean Dyde, a committee of the faculty was appointed by Acting Dean John Little of the College of Arts and Sciences in October 1959 'to develop and recommend plans which may be presented to the faculty of the College... for their consideration this year..., to enable and encourage our students to study abroad...'  In 1961, the Faculty of the College of Arts & Sciences approved the ‘Junior Year Abroad’ Program and CU began offering its own study abroad programs. The first such program began in 1963 at the University of Bordeaux in France. 

Clay Bridgford was appointed Acting Director of International Education in 1963. In 1964 Carl McGuire succeeded him as Acting Director. Then in September 1965, Dr. James L. Colwell became the first full-time Director of the Office of International Education. He remained in this position until December 1971.

In 1968, the responsibility for international student advising was shifted from the Office of Special Services (OSS) to OIE and in 1969, Eugene Smith was hired as the first full-time Director of International Student and Scholar Services.  (Peace Corps liaison responsibilities had been reassigned from the OSS to the OIE the year before.)  Also in 1968, the first full-time Director of Study Abroad, Ruth Purkaple, was hired.

In 1971, the Boulder campus Faculty Council passed a resolution "clarifying the University’s goals in the fields of international education."  The resolution charged OIE with the following responsibilities that continue to be in effect today:

  • Operating, maintaining, and developing Study Abroad Programs (now Education Abroad)
  • Maintaining a central source of information and advising on the opportunities for educational work and travel abroad, including the programs of other educational institutions and agencies
  • Assisting and encouraging students and faculty who wish to participate in foreign educational or exchange programs
  • Representing the University by serving as host to students and faculty from abroad who are visiting the University, and by maintaining counseling, assistance, and logistical support programs for these foreign guests of the University
  • Serving as a catalyst and providing support to faculty and students who wish to develop programs in international education here or in cooperation with other institutions
  • Maintaining an inventory of the roles and programs in international education at the University of Colorado and coordinating such activities within the University
  • Cooperating with other institutions of higher education in Colorado and the region to make available to students and faculties programs and opportunities in international education on a reciprocal basis
  • Carrying on such others activities in support of international education as may be necessary

In 1974 R. Curtis Johnson was appointed as Dean of International Education.  In 1982, Jean Delaney was appointed Director of the Office of International Education.  She was succeeded by Michael Delaney in 2000.  Lawrence Bell served as Director of the Office of International Education from 2003 through 2016. In November 2016 the position of Director of OIE was discontinued, and the office is current led jointly by the Director of Education Abroad and the Director of International Student & Scholar Services.