Newswise — Texas Tech University has been selected as a recipient of a 2018 Sen. Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization by NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education.
“Texas Tech University has promoted an internationalization agenda that has gained momentum over the years, and it is a distinct honor to be recognized for our efforts with the Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization,” said Sukant Misra, Vice Provost of International Affairs. “Learning and discovery of knowledge should know no boundaries, and we truly believe our robust international platform today delivers unparalleled international educational and outreach opportunities for our faculty, staff and students.”
Named after the late Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois, who was a strong advocate for international education and cross-cultural learning, the NAFSA Simon Awards recognize outstanding innovation and accomplishment in campus internationalization.
The awards are given in two categories to reflect the broad array of approaches used to effectively internationalize campuses. The Sen. Paul Simon Spotlight Award recognizes a specific international program or initiative that contributes to internationalization on campus. The Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization distinguishes excellence in integrating international education throughout all facets of university and college campuses.
“We are deeply honored to once again be recognized by NAFSA and this time receive the Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization,” said President Lawrence Schovanec, referring to the university’s receipt of the organization’s Spotlight Award in 2016. “These awards are a testament to Texas Tech’s ongoing commitment to the internationalization of our campus that supports the cultural awareness and global competence of our students, faculty and staff.”
Texas Tech’s commitment to internationalization is demonstrated through several campus-wide initiatives led by the Office of International Affairs (OIA). The university’s ongoing goals include integrating global perspectives into the curriculum, recruiting and supporting international students, providing opportunities to engage faculty and students in international service breaks and study abroad opportunities, furthering intercultural understanding in the community at large, and cultivating strategic international partnerships and external relationships to increase all aspects of international scholarship.
The university’s interdisciplinary global studies bachelor’s degree is housed within the Department of Political Science and embraces almost 100 majors. The degree also includes a Model United Nations program, which gives students unique insight into the workings of the world’s most important international organization, the realities of world politics and the difficulty of arriving at common solutions.
Recruitment efforts by the OIA have led to significant increases in international enrollment over the past five years, including an 80 percent increase in the number of international undergraduate students and an 18 percent increase in the number of international graduate students. These students are served by the International Student Life unit within the OIA and receive additional academic, professional and cultural support from other departments on campus.
In 2016-17, nearly 100 faculty accompanied approximately 1,000 Texas Tech students on courses taught abroad, representing programs from every academic college on campus and multiple departments in each college. Texas Tech’s Study Abroad Center in Sevilla, Spain, now in its 17th year, has served more than 3,500 Texas Tech students from all academic disciplines, and the Center for Active Learning and Undergraduate Engagement led its first international service break to Costa Rica last May.
This year, the university is scheduled to begin classes on a degree-granting campus in San José, Costa Rica. This unique public-private venture will provide Costa Rican and neighboring Central American students the opportunity to have a genuine U.S. university experience, but within a familiar environment.
“We attract and retain the best and the brightest students from around the world. Our internationalized curricula and study abroad opportunities prepare globally minded graduates,” Misra said. “Our globalized research and development enterprise empowers our faculty to innovate and promote long-term, sustainable development across the world. Moreover, our outreach efforts foster intercultural awareness, understanding and competence at home and abroad.”
Other integration initiatives include the establishment and continued funding of several centers, departments and institutes, like the International Center for Food Industry Excellence, which offers workshops for faculty to develop cultural competencies and research opportunities that span the globe; the Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement, which promotes cross-cultural awareness for a diverse and globally competitive workforce; and the Thomas Jay Harris Institute for Hispanic and International Communication, which promotes better understanding of Hispanic-related and international media communication through research, teaching and community outreach among students, teachers, researchers, media industry representatives and community organizations.
“As future leaders of our nation, it is vital that our students have the tools and experiences necessary to thrive in an increasingly interconnected global community,” said Esther D. Brimmer, NAFSA executive director and CEO. “There is no one-size-fits all when it comes to internationalization. With institutions like these continuing to strive to incorporate creatively global perspectives onto their campuses, I am confident we can prepare our students to succeed and ultimately strengthen ties around the world.”
Institutions selected for the Simon Awards will be featured in NAFSA’s report, Internationalizing the Campus: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities, to be published this fall. Each also will be honored at an event in Washington, D.C., during International Education Week in November.
To learn more about NAFSA’s Senator Paul Simon Awards, visit the website.