Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Virginia Commonwealth University has been awarded the 2015 Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award, which recognizes a specific international program or initiative that contributes to the comprehensive internationalization of a university.
The award, granted by NAFSA: Association of International Educators, will be presented to the university’s VCU Globe living-learning program, which prepares students to live and work in a 21st-century global environment through the connection of coursework, co-curricular activities and a vibrant residential experience.
According to NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Marlene M. Johnson, “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.”
“VCU Globe is a direct fulfillment of the university’s commitment to increase the global engagement of students in a way that transforms lives and communities,” said R. McKenna Brown, Ph.D., executive director of the VCU Global Education Office. “This prestigious honor is particularly gratifying because it recognizes the quality of the program’s concept and execution. We’re extremely grateful to those who entrusted the design and delivery of this innovative program to us.”
“This award affirms the fact that VCU Globe provides a value-added opportunity for students in all disciplines by providing them with the knowledge, skills and experiences needed to succeed as culture brokers in an increasingly globalized world,” said Jill Blondin, Ph.D., director of VCU Globe. “Through our unique curriculum, global engagement initiatives and distinctive study abroad programs, VCU delivers on its promise to prepare students who can mediate across personal and cultural borders and engage local, national and global communities to affect positive results.”
In reflecting on the award, Blondin noted that the program has taken significant strides since its launch in January 2013. It currently enrolls 230 students who represent 34 different majors, with biology, international studies, political science, psychology and mass communications being the most popular. Last November, VCU Globe launched the Peace Corps Prep program, making VCU one of only 26 participating institutions in the nation.
Named for the late Senator Paul Simon of Illinois, NAFSA’s Simon Awards recognize outstanding and innovative achievements in campus internationalization. From the innovative use of technology to expanded English language and support systems, the 2015 Simon Award winners reflect a broad diversity of approaches to campus internationalization, both in terms of models and implementation.
The two other Simon Spotlight Award winners are Rice University and Wake Forest University. The universities will be profiled in NAFSA’s “Internationalizing the Campus: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities" this fall and will be honored at an event in Washington, D.C. during International Education Week in November.
Feature photo at top: VCU Globe students with Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU.
About VCU and VCU Medical Center
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see www.vcu.edu.