Profs. Haun Saussy and Rachel DeWoskin in conversation with Xu Bin at the 2020 US-China Forum


Hosting International Visitors

The University of Chicago has a long-standing tradition of engaging with scholars, students, institutions and governments from around the world. Faculty and staff occasionally host international delegations or colleagues for short-term visits to develop collaborative research and foster new partnerships. We offer a few resources below to help you through this process. If you have additional questions regarding a delegation, please contact and for information on local attractions click here.



Prior to hosting an international visitor or delegation, identify the purpose of the visit and ensure it aligns with the University’s mission. Below are some common objectives:

  • Establish a new partnership or strengthen a current relationship with an international partner
  • Create new learning opportunities, programs, or workshops for students and faculty
  • Create and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (a "handshake" agreement indicating the intent to establish a collaborative relationship)

Background Research

As you consider hosting the delegation, research the delegation and their institution. This information will serve as background information and allow for substantive dialogue and lead to a productive meeting.

  • Who requested the visit?
  • Has this delegation visited campus before and do they have ties or connections at the University of Chicago?
  • Are there any special considerations about the institution that should be noted?
  • Do their interests align with the goals of your unit or another unit on campus?
  • Is there interest from other faculty or administrators to meet with the delegation?
  • What time commitments would be involved with this visit?
  • What costs will the delegates cover and what costs will your unit cover (flights, hotels, transportation, food, etc.)?
  • Are the visitors researchers, faculty, administrators, high-level government officials, or donors?
  • Please contact to inquire about visits for high-ranking officials or donors.



Communicate with the visitors to determine their availability. Consider the time of year and if there are any other events on campus (alumni weekend or convocation) that may impact the cost and availability of hotels and meeting spaces. Review flights and consider jet lag when planning the itinerary.

Formal Invitation Letters

Formal invitation letters are often needed for visitors to obtain US visas. Contact to obtain a formal invitation letter and provide the name, title, address, date of birth, passport number and nationality of each delegate as well as the date of their visit and the purpose of the delegation.


The University of Chicago has preferred relationships with hotels in Hyde Park and the city of Chicago for faculty, staff, students, and guests. These hotels offer discounted rates and complimentary amenities when booking under the University's name. The list of hotels can be found here. If the University is paying for the delegate’s accommodations, they can be booked through Fox World Travel using a GEMS account.


Usually the delegation will have arranged their own transportation. If they do not, you may decide to provide transportation for them depending on the importance of the visit. Please reach out to for guidance if needed.


  • The itinerary, size, and level of the delegation will help determine the catering needs, ranging from beverage service, snacks, catered meals, meals at a restaurant, etc.
  • Food and beverages can be purchased from restaurants in Hyde Park, catering companies or through BuySite. A list of catering companies can be found here. Delegations can also have lunch at the Quadrangle Club, Nella Pizza e Pasta, Reynolds Club or other restaurants close to campus.
  • For a large group, renting a conference room on campus and ordering from a catering company may be a more cost-effective option for a large group than reserving a space at the Quadrangle Club or setting up a meal at a restaurant.
  • Please consider any dietary restrictions for health or cultural reasons. For examples, visitors from China usually prefer hot water and green tea over coffee, while many countries throughout the world prefer to have tea in the afternoon.


Depending on the size of the delegation, a larger meeting space may be required. Spaces on campus are reserved quickly so it is important to do this as soon as possible. Central pool classroom space may be reserved through the Office of the Registrar, or you can reach out directly to departmental or center leadership to inquire about processes for reserving a specific space. For larger or more formal groups, the Quadrangle Club or Rubenstein Forum may be a good fit, although note that reserving these spaces will incur a cost and may include a requirement to use their in-house catering services.

Gift Exchange

It is often customary for visitors to bring gifts as a sign of gratitude. Depending on the culture of the visitors, it may be important to provide a small gift in return. Appropriate gifts for visitors should be small and ideally associated with the University, such as a book published by a faculty member, a paperweight, a notebook, etc. Keep in mind that the delegates will be traveling internationally and will likely have to store the gift in their luggage. Please refer to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Policy for detailed guidelines on appropriate gift-giving within US law.

Contingency Plans

The weather in Chicago is unpredictable and it is important to have a contingency plan should your itinerary be dependent on weather. Umbrellas should be available if it rains. Have an alternate plan for outdoor activities, such as a campus tour, in the winter.


  1. UChicago faculty and staff should be given the time and location of their meeting, a biography of each delegate and background information on the institution prior to their meeting.
  2. The visitors should be given an itinerary that outlines all events, activities, transportation, and accommodations during their visit. The itinerary could include:
  • Date(s)
  • Flight information (if provided to the department)
  • Hotel Information (if booked by the department)
  • Time, location and participants of all meetings, lunch, dinners, receptions, tours, etc.
  • Transportation information
  • List of visiting delegates (name, title, institution)
  • Contact at the University
  • Contact information of the driver (if applicable)
  • Biography and photo of all UChicago participants
  • Background on any institutions or centers (if applicable)
  • Campus Map

A sample itinerary is provided below:

Contact Person

It is best practice to have one person designated as the contact for the delegation to avoid confusion. This person should understand where the delegation should be at all times and know who to contact should something occur. The contact person should attend all the meetings with the delegation to ensure they remain on time and track any follow-up actions.