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Elon named one of nation's top schools for international education

Elon has been named one of the top schools in the nation for international education by NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The university is one of four institutions to receive the organization’s prestigious 2007 Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization. Details...

The award is given to universities for innovative and creative internationalization efforts, including study abroad, international student services and programs that encourage education about other cultures.

Elon will be profiled in the NAFSA report Internationalizing the Campus 2007: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities, which will be published this fall. NAFSA is the largest international education organization in the world.

Elon ranks first among the nation’s master’s-level colleges and universities in the number of students studying abroad, according to the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors Report 2006. Sixty-four percent of 2006 Elon graduates studied abroad for at least one term, and 23 percent of Elon students studied abroad in 2005-2006.

“Elon has a strong reputation for study abroad, and we’ve been working on internationalization efforts,” says Larry Basirico, dean of international programs at Elon. “This award will take any doubt out of people’s minds that Elon is focused on internationalization.”

This is the first year Elon has applied for the award, which is named for the late senator from Illinois who advocated international education. Among Simon’s accomplishments was the creation of the National Security Education Program, which addresses critical national deficiencies in language and cultural expertise. In the months preceding his untimely death in December of 2003, Senator Simon worked diligently to promote a new and visionary initiative that would dramatically increase the number of U.S. college students studying abroad. He believed strongly in the need for America’s future leaders to know and understand the broader world.

Along with Elon, this year’s award recipients are Calvin College, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Oklahoma.

In its application for the award, Elon stressed its success in study abroad and other aspects of international education since the opening of The Isabella Cannon Centre for International Studies in 1999. The center has become the university’s hub of internationalization efforts, helping expand study abroad opportunities and manage international student and faculty scholar services.

From the Cannon Centre, internationalization has spread across Elon’s campus, Basirico says.

“This award was not won by the Isabella Cannon Centre but was won by all of the Elon faculty, staff and students at Elon who have contributed in so many ways, large and small, to internationalization of the campus efforts,” he says. “The many small efforts that may have seemed insignificant at the moment have been as important as the more obvious, larger accomplishments.”

Basirico was one of eight faculty members who worked on the award application. The others were Tom Arcaro, professor of sociology and director of Project Pericles; Stephen Braye, professor of English; Jim Pickens, associate professor of psychology; Jim Barbour, associate professor of economics; Constance Book, associate dean of the School of Communications; Betty Morgan, associate professor of political science; and Bird Stasz, associate professor of education. 

Internationalizing the campus is a university priority. In 2003, Elon created a four-year plan to internationalize all aspects of life, from the academic curriculum and residence life to the library and the Career Center. The plan is in its fourth year of implementation.

Basirico says Elon’s recognition by NAFSA will help strengthen existing programs by attracting more international students and providing a boost in fundraising.

“This will further solidify the recruiting process for people interested in study abroad,” Basirico says. “Having a proven track record with internationalization will certainly only help.”

NAFSA, formerly known as the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers, was founded in 1948 and has nearly 9,000 members at 3,500 institutions worldwide, representing 84 countries.

Dan Anderson,
3/1/2007 10:45 AM