WVU awarded Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization

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DWest Virginia University has been selected as a recipient of the 2019 Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization. The award, given by NAFSA: Association of International Educators, recognizes institutions of higher learning that have made significant strides in internationalizing their campuses. WVU is one of five institutions recognized in 2019 with the award.

“Receiving the Senator Paul Simon Award is a tremendous honor for West Virginia University,” said William Brustein, Vice President for Global Strategies and International Affairs. “The Simon Award is the gold-standard in internationalization and confirms that WVU is a truly international university. It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of our students, faculty, and staff who have made WVU a leader in international education.”

Brustein joined WVU in September 2016 to lead the newly created Office of Global Affairs. Joining together the University’s essential international services, Global Affairs houses education abroad, international student and scholar services and global advancement. Tasked with leading the University’s efforts to internationalize, Global Affairs has focused on developing initiatives that comprehensively promote global education throughout the campus. 

“As an institution of higher learning, West Virginia University has an obligation to provide students the experience of an internationalized campus,” President Gordon Gee said. “We are educating the next generation of world leaders, so we must ensure they have the global perspective to solve issues moving forward. Through internationalization we bring together diverse perspectives, challenging our own way of thinking and strengthening our ideals. But the opposite is true, as well. We expose the international community to a different perspective – something that is crucial to bringing the world closer together.”

Through a campus-wide effort, WVU launched the Global Mountaineers Certificate Program in Fall 2018. The certificate offers students the opportunity to receive an academic endorsement for completing globally-focused objectives as part of their degree programs. As part of the certificate, students are required to participate in an education abroad experience and complete coursework designed to enhance their understanding of global issues, helping to prepare them for the increasingly globalized workforce. 

WVU has also led significant efforts to promote faculty engagement abroad. Global Affairs, in collaboration with the WVU Research Office, offers grants to promote research and partnership development in strategic areas aligned with the WVU Global Portals. Additionally, funding has been offered to develop new initiatives in education abroad providing more opportunities for WVU students to have an international experience. 

“Our commitment to our students’ international experiences can be seen across campus,” said Provost Joyce McConnell. “When young people study, serve and explore around the world, they do far more than just enrich their academic portfolios. They learn the cultural perspective they will need as members of the next generation of world leaders. Whether a student comes from Berlin, West Virginia or Berlin, Germany, we want them to leave WVU as global citizens, prepared to make our world a better place.”

Extending the University’s outreach has also been a central focus of the Global Affairs. To promote the University abroad WVU established Global Portals, serving as academic embassies to create opportunities for research, student recruitment, corporate and government relations, education abroad and alumni engagement. “Our Portals are currently located in Bahrain and China with plans to expand in Latin America and Southeast Asia,” Brustein said. “Portal locations are strategically chosen to align with the research strengths of WVU and the economic strengths of West Virginia. This allows them to not only serve the University, but also the State of West Virginia in helping to create economic opportunity and connections.” 

The Bahrain Portal is operated in collaboration with WVU’s strategic partner in the Middle East, the Royal University for Women in Bahrain. The partnership was awarded the 2018 Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Partnerships by the Institute of International Education and supports annual student exchanges, workshop and lecture series and the Gulf Cooperation Council chapter of the Alumni Association with over 200 members.

As a recipient of the Senator Paul Simon Award, WVU will be profiled in NAFSA’s upcoming Internationalizing the Campus report. The award will be given this November during International Education Week in Washington, DC.