The founding fathers of IAUP, were university leaders from the US, South Korea, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Liberia, that came together in 1964 to discuss the creation of a worldwide organisation that would facilitate communication among higher education leaders from various countries, promoting friendship and collaboration between them. The inaugural IAUP conference was held in Oxford, England in June 1965, with the participation of about 120 representatives of universities from 21 countries. Over the years, IAUP has contributed to the strengthening of the international mission and quality of education of its member institutions and has grown to become an association of several hundred members from nearly 100 countries.
The rich series of academic events and activities of IAUP have drawn the attention and respect of many world leaders. The following distinguished world leaders have personally attended IAUP events through its history:
President Bill Clinton of the United States; Mr. Chung Hee Park, President of Korea; President Tubman of Liberia; His Imperial Majesty Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran and Queen Farah; Mr. Rodrigo Carazo Odio, President of Costa Rica; His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand; Mr. Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado, President of Mexico; His Majesty King Juan Carlos, of Spain and Queen Sofia; His Majesty Prince Takamado and Princess Takamado of Japan; His Majesty Albert II, King of the Belgians; His Excellency Peter Hollingworth, Governor-General of Commonwealth of Australia. Also, Her Majesty Princess Chulaborn of Thailand; Prime Minister Toshio Kaifu of Japan; Prime Minister J.L Dehaene of Belgium; Prof. Dr. Emil Constantinescu, President of Rumania; Former Prime Ministers Harold Wilson of Great Britain; Prem Tinsulanonda of Thailand; G. Fitzgerald of Ireland, M. Eyskens of Belgium; Dr. Federico Mayor, Director General of UNESCO; J.M Gil Robles, President of the European Parliament; HRH Princess Maha Chakri Siridhorn of Thailand; Former President Fidel Ramos, of Philippines; Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Romos-Horta of East Timor; Dr. Jane Goodall, of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN messenger for Peace, among many distinguished personalities.