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Spelman College Recognized for Excellence in International Education Share a Spelman College Press Release

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Audrey Arthur
Spelman College

Students-in-Morroco_0921_t580(web)ATLANTA (March 10, 2017) – NAFSA: Association of International Educators has awarded Spelman College the Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award. True to the legacy of the late Senator Paul Simon of Illinois, for whom NAFSA’s Simon Awards are named, Spelman and the six additional colleges and universities selected demonstrate innovation and achievement in campus internationalization.

The Simon awards are divided into two categories to reflect and distinguish the diverse ways higher education institutions can design and implement campus internationalization.

The Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award celebrates a specific international program or initiative that contributes to broad internationalization on campus. The 2017 Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award schools are:
•    Spelman College – Atlanta, Ga. – Spelman Going Global program
•    Texas Christian University – Fort Worth, Texas - TCU Rhino Initiative
•    University of North Texas – Denton, Texas - Heart of Mexico program

Spelman won the spotlight award in the area of “engagement” for the College’s Going Global initiative. Going Global is an outcome-based program designed to enhance students’ study-travel experience through the Spelman MILE (My Integrated Learning Experience) liberal arts curriculum. Students’ intercultural competence is measured by two learning outcomes: knowledge component and attitude component.

The Simon Award not only recognizes Spelman’s study abroad achievements, but also its engagement in internationalization, which encompasses recruitment of international students, infusion of international topics into the curriculum, faculty global engagement through travels, international research and development of international partnerships.

Dimeji Togunde“It is an honor for Spelman to be selected as a recipient of the Simon Spotlight Award,” said Dimeji Togunde, Ph.D., associate provost for global education for the Spelman Gordon-Zeto Center and professor of international studies. “The award validates the College's commitment to a culture of global learning that is so integral to the teaching and learning environment. We embrace the wider world and recognize the need for modeling the importance of thinking globally—understanding the world through more international connections. Spelman also embraces the richness that comes from engagement with disparate cultures. As a result, Spelman Going Global enjoys champions among students, faculty, board of trustees and staff, and has had an infectious transformative impact by producing graduates who will be able to function effectively as global leaders.”

During the 2015-2016 academic year, 402 Spelman students traveled abroad. Their research and study topics included: Japanese and Chinese language and culture, primate behavior research in Barbados, comparative global education: The Cuban Case Study, intercultural engagement and leadership, and history and culture of Trinidad. There are a total of 29 faculty-led programs that come under the Going Global umbrella. According to an Open Doors report released by the Institute of International Education, Spelman is ranked 29th among the nation’s top 40 baccalaureate colleges with the highest number of students studying abroad.
lizetteterryLizette Terry, C’2017, a comparative women's studies major, was among a contingent of Spelman students who traveled to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 2014 as part of the College’s partnership with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). Terry’s study abroad experience was instrumental in helping her discover her passion for storytelling. Time spent in Santo Domingo also inspired her to personally explore what it means to be a global citizen and conscious community leader.

“My unique experiences in and outside of the classroom taught me how to be open-minded, a critical thinker, and how to see life through a new hue—which are all essential to establishing race relations in our global community,” said Terry. “With a new perspective, I was able to examine differences and similarities between the vast cultures of the African Diaspora. I realized communicating across cultures would serve as a great tool for becoming a global leader. Looking back as a graduating senior, all of these learned values and skills are what made me the fervent Spelman activist and leader I am today.”

The Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization also recognizes excellence in integrating international education throughout all facets of university and college campuses. The 2017 Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization schools are:
•    Florida State University – Tallahassee, Fla.
•    Santa Monica College – Santa Monica, Calif.
•    University of Iowa – Iowa City, Iowa
•    University of Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh, Pa.

“We are thrilled to award NAFSA’s highest commendation to these seven colleges and universities for their remarkable efforts to implement internationalization on their campuses,” said Esther D. Brimmer, NAFSA executive director and CEO. “Through their hard work and dedication, each of these campuses have demonstrated how U.S. higher education institutions can succeed at fostering a globally connected and welcoming community using a variety of methods. It is through the continued commitment and innovation of institutions like these that we can ensure a future of greater collaboration and shared progress across the world.”    

Senator Simon was a champion for international education and cultural exchange, and his passionate advocacy for these issues inspired the proposed Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act.

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, and 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

About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a highly selective, liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent.  Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman, Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer, Broadway producer Alia Jones, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, Harvard University Professor Evelynn Hammonds, author Pearl Cleage and actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson.  For more information, visit

With more than 10,000 members, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world's largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education. Visit us at To learn more about our advocacy efforts on behalf of international education, visit and @ConnectOurWorld on Twitter.


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