Awards announced for projects to advance VCU global priorities

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Virginia Commonwealth University’s Global Education Office has awarded 18 grants of up to $20,000 to projects that support the university’s global priorities to improve the recruitment and retention of international students and scholars, increase the global engagement of VCU students and faculty, and expand VCU’s global footprint through research, teaching and global engagement.

Since 2011, 39 grants have been awarded through the program, totaling more than $675,000.

This year, the Quest Global Impact Awards were announced at a reception on Sept. 12 at the University Student Commons. Projects funded will take place during the 2014-15 academic year.

VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., delivered the keynote address during the reception, citing multiple examples of universitywide global initiatives, including the VCU’s commitment to Generation Study Abroad, an initiative that seeks to double the number of students who study abroad by 2020.

Studying abroad is a critical issue for us.

“Studying abroad is a critical issue for us,” Rao said. “We need, as Americans, to be more connected with the world, especially based on who we are as America. This is supposed to be the place where you can be the most successful and that won’t happen if we create isolation and don’t connect ourselves with the rest of the world.”

Rao also noted other global initiatives, including the recent signing of international collaboration agreements with Nanjing University and Jiangsu University, in China; VCU Globe’s partnership with the Peace Corps; the English Language Program’s accreditation by the Commission of English Language Accreditation; and the university’s growing conversation partner and friendship family initiatives, designed to help VCU’s international students acclimate to the Richmond area.

The following grants were awarded:

Collaborative Degree Awards

Nanda Ragan, Ph.D., associate dean for international and strategic initiatives in the School of Business, received three collaborative degree awards. The school will partner with the International Institute of Technology Morocco to establish a graduate program in business with concentrations in global marketing management and finance. In addition, the school will launch M.B.A. programs with an emphasis in global marketing management in cooperation with the University of Guadalajara in Mexico and the Global Banking School in the United Kingdom.

Yaoying Xu, Ph.D., associate professor of special education and disability policy in the School of Education, in collaboration with Jiangnan University’s School of Foreign Studies in Wuxi, China, will develop a three-year global education Ph.D. program, which will provide general education and subject area practitioners and researchers with opportunities to pursue experiences in special education within a global context.

Don Young, Ph.D., professor of biology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, in collaboration with the University of Cordoba, Spain, will develop a complimentary degree program that focuses on two river ecosystems, James and Guadalquivir, which are fundamental to the economy and culture of Virginia and Andalusia, Spain, respectively.

Departmental Study Abroad

Sama Bilbao Y Leon, Ph.D.,associate professor and director of nuclear engineering programs in the School of Engineering,will establish a two-week practicum course in nuclear reactor physics for VCU undergraduate and graduate students in mechanical and nuclear engineering at the Technical University of Dresden in Germany.

Jimmy Chen, Ph.D., associate professor of urban and regional planning in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, will establish a new two-month  study abroad program for VCU students with the Renmin University of China in Beijing.

Janett Forte, assistant clinical professor in the School of Medicine, will develop a sustainable study abroad partnership between VCU and Richmond-based nonprofit Midwives for Haiti, which works in Haiti to reduce maternal and infant mortality by training Haitian women to provide prenatal care and lifesaving skills during childbirth.

Steven Lindauer, D.M.D., M.D.Sc.,professor and chair of the School of Dentistry Department of Orthodontics, will advance the newly developed partnership between the School of Dentistry and the Qingdao Somatological Hospital in in Qingdao, China. Faculty from China will learn U.S. techniques for teaching, practice and research while students from the U.S. will experience Chinese culture, educational status and dental practice.

Shannon Mitchell, Ph.D.,associate professor and associate dean for undergraduate studies in the School of Business, will develop a marketing campaign showing business students how they can make study abroad part of their college experience. Business students will have the opportunity to study abroad at the University of Cordoba in Spain, Fudan University in China or Curtin University in Australia, while making sufficient progress toward their VCU degree.

Paul Perrin, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, will lead a group of 10 doctoral and undergraduate students to the University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain, to participate in a comprehensive research training opportunity on racial and ethnic disparities in health.

Nanda Ragan, Ph.D.,associate dean for international and strategic initiatives in the School of Business, will collaborate with the University of Cordoba, Spain, to expand the School of Business’ International Consulting Program, an intensive seven-week program allowing students to provide business-consulting services to a real client in the host country.

Global Visiting Scholar

Kyungeh An, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Nursing’s Department of Adult Health and Nursing Systems, will host lnsop Shim, Ph.D., renowned neuroscientist in stress research of Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea, for the 2014 academic year.

Sama Bilbao Y Leon, Ph.D.,associate professor and director of nuclear engineering programs in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, will host Mexican scholar Gustavo Alonso, Ph.D., from the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Nucleares , Mexico.

George Zsidisin, Ph.D., professor in the School of Business Department of Supply Chain Management and Analytics, will host Joe Miemczyk, Ph.D., professor of supply management at Audencia University, Nantes, France.

Virtual Global Classroom

Robert Godwin-Jones, Ph.D., professor of German and international studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences' School of World Studies, will restructure the existing online course, “Communicating Across Cultures,” to incorporate participation by students and faculty from Pyatigorsk State University in Russia and the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur.

Chin-Chin Chen, Ph.D., assistant professor of special education and disability policy in the School of Education, will establish virtual global classrooms embedded within the existing curriculum in special education — general education teacher preparation programs in the School of Education. In addition to students at VCU, students at Jiangnan University and Guangxi Normal University, both in China, will be able to enroll in these courses.

Evelyn Reed, Ph.D., associate professor of special education and disability policy in the School of Education, will develop a rich and sustainable online learning community, to engage doctoral students and international educators in building a virtual model classroom to study universal design for learning principles, pilot applications of innovative pedagogical methods and evaluate the effectiveness of online resources in varied educational settings. This project will be initiated in collaboration with faculty at Mico University in Jamaica.

Nita Bryant, Ph.D., behavioral and social sciences research librarian, will collaborate with librarians from the University of Adelaide and Kings College London to develop a comprehensive plan for library support of the International Programme in Addiction Studies. This includes developing and integrating addictions-specific information literacy education throughout the IPAS course sequence and building the IPAS Virtual Library, leveraging the strengths afforded by each university's collections and ensuring a single point of access to resources and personal services that each partner alone could not offer.

Maghboeba Mosavel, Ph.D., associate professor of social and behavioral health in the School of Medicine, will develop and pilot test a Web-based resource that will support virtual interaction among students at VCU and the University of KwaZulu-Natal through the implementation of community health-focused global photo voice projects.

In addition to the grants, seven VCU faculty who participated in the summer 2014 Faculty Development Seminar were recognized. The 2014 seminar was hosted by VCU strategic partner, University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, from Aug. 1 to Aug. 15.

Participants in the 2014 seminar included:

Susan Bodnar-Deren, Ph.D., College of Humanities and Sciences, Department of Sociology

Rowena Briones, Ph.D., College of Humanities and Sciences, Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture

Rosalie Corona, Ph.D., College of Humanities and Sciences, Department of Psychology

Kelli Williams Gary, Ph.D., School of Allied Health Professions, Department of Occupational Therapy

Carrie LeCrom, Ph.D., School of Education, Center for Sport Leadership

Joann Richardson, Ph.D., College of Humanities and Sciences, Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences

Colleen Thoma, Ph.D., School of Education, Department of Special Education and Disability Policy

For more information about the Quest Global Impact Awards, visit


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