Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coleman accepts Simon Award for U-M's outstanding global engagement

President Mary Sue Coleman visited Washington, D.C., on Tuesday for a ceremony honoring the winners of the 2012 Simon Award for outstanding and innovative achievements in campus internationalization.

U-M was one of five recipients selected by a jury with NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the world's largest nonprofit professional association dedicated to international education.

Coleman said global engagement long has been one of the pillars of academic excellence at U-M.

"I'm in Washington today not only to accept the Simon Award for my institution, but also because it's important to remind leaders and policymakers that international education is vital to our future," she said at the event.

The Simon Award jury considered a wide range of factors, including size of international student body, foreign language requirements, number of students in study abroad programs, relationships with education partners overseas and cultivation of alumni support abroad.

More than 65 foreign languages are taught at U-M, and students and scholars from more than 130 countries are studying and doing research at the institution. The university is involved in more than 500 initiatives — including research projects, partnerships and study abroad programs — in 100 nations worldwide.

For six of the past eight years, U-M has led the nation in Fulbright grants. The university set a new record this year when 40 students received the prestigious award to travel to 24 countries to teach, study or do research.

"Our students are living in a global world, and they will be working in one as well," Coleman said. "We need to do all we can to prepare them for that future."

The size of U-M's international student body was ranked No. 8 nationally in 2011-12, and the university was ranked No. 16 for the number of students earning credit by studying abroad.

The other Simon Award winners were College of St. Benedict/Saint John's University, Juniata College, Northern Arizona University and San Francisco State University.

The award was named after Paul Simon, the late Democratic senator from Illinois, who was famous for his bow ties and strong support of international education and foreign language learning. He backed the creation of the National Security Education Program, which addresses critical national security deficiencies in language and cultural expertise.