The University of Virginia has been awarded the 2015 Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization, which highlights excellence in global education.
NAFSA: Association of International Educators is recognizing U.Va. and four other schools for their demonstrated commitment to global learning for their students and scholars.
“This year’s Simon Award winners are outstanding models for how higher education across the country can and must innovate to prepare our graduates for success in today’s increasingly complex and interdependent world,” Marlene M. Johnson, CEO and executive director of NAFSA, said.
U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan said she is honored the University is being recognized. “We want our students to have a variety of international experiences, both curricular and extra-curricular, to prepare them for the diverse global economy that they will enter after graduation. This prestigious award is evidence of our success in this effort and a testament to our progress in making U.Va. a truly global university,” she said.
“This award was possible because of efforts that span the University, including all 11 schools, research centers and student organizations. They have reshaped global education, research and service at U.Va.,” said Jeffrey W. Legro, Vice Provost for Global Affairs.
U.Va.’s strategic plan, known as the Cornerstone Plan, sets out four key University initiatives that Legro said have gained significant traction.
“One of the exciting outgrowths of this work is the grand opening of our China office in March,” he said. “It will kick off a full year of U.Va. programming in this important part of the world.”
The Cornerstone Plan also called for the creation of a Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation, growing the global studies curriculum and introducing a global internship program.
The center – also called CGI2 – was established in 2013 and has awarded more than $310,000 to faculty and students for an array of global initiatives, including its distinctive Global Programs of Distinction that offer generous grants to top-notch global research projects, and the new “Faculty Global Research with Undergraduates” grant program.
U.Va. unveiled its undergraduate cross-school Global Studies major last fall, offering courses in four tracks: development, public health, security and justice, and environment and sustainability. With its own dedicated director, the program anticipates having 225 enrollees by this fall and at least 250 by fall 2016.
U.Va.’s Global Internships program fielded its first class of interns last summer and has since grown in popularity, with at least 137 students seeking internships in 18 countries this summer. New countries of destination include the United Arab Emirates, Belgium and India.
“Our Shanghai representative, Justin O’Jack, has facilitated new programs and partnerships with several schools, including Fudan University, East China Normal University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Dalian Medical University, as well as commonwealth of Virginia offices,” Legro said. “He has also significantly expanded our media, alumni and admissions presence.
“All of this work draws on the expertise at our International Studies Office, which manages our education abroad programs, our International Students and Scholars Program and our international center.”
Executive Vice President and Provost John Simon said the world is not homogeneous and universities must acquire the skills and knowledge to work in and with different cultures. “To be a leading university, you have to go global. I am proud that NAFSA has recognized that we are doing just that,” he said.
The Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization is named for the late U.S. Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois. NAFSA’s Simon Awards recognize outstanding and innovative achievements in campus internationalization.
The other Simon Award winners include Mount Holyoke College, North Central College, the University of Delaware and the University of San Diego. The five institutions will be featured in NAFSA’s report, “Internationalizing the Campus: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities,” to be published this fall, and will be honored at an event in Washington, D.C. during International Education Week in November.