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Gala celebrates OHIO’s international efforts, honors its global champions (PHOTOS)


Members of the Ohio University community gathered last week to celebrate OHIO’s history of excellence in international education and global engagement and to recognize and thank those who have helped to pen that history.

The fourth annual Awards for Excellence in Global Engagement Gala was held Nov. 16 in Nelson Commons. Sponsored by OHIO’s Senior International Management Team, the event serves as part of OHIO’s International Education Week (IEW) and is administered by the University’s IEW Committee and the Office of Global Affairs.

Ohio University's Nelson Commons went global the evening of Nov. 16 in honor of the fourth annual Awards for Excellence in Global Engagement Gala.

Ohio University's Nelson Commons went global the evening of Nov. 16 in honor of the fourth annual Awards for Excellence in Global Engagement Gala. The room was packed with members of the OHIO community near and far, including representatives from all five of the University’s senates.

“International Education Week celebrates and highlights the faculty, staff, students and alumni involved in global activities on all of our campuses,” Lorna Jean Edmonds, vice provost for global affairs and international studies, said in kicking off this year’s gala. “We are here tonight to recognize a few of our global leaders and to honor them for their accomplishments.”

Dr. Edmonds noted that this year’s gala was particularly special as it followed the Board of Trustees’ recent acceptance of OHIO’s Global Strategy and the passage of a Student Senate bill declaring that body’s support for the strategy.

Vice Provost for Global Affairs and International Studies Lorna Jean Edmonds welcomes everyone to this year’s gala.

Vice Provost for Global Affairs and International Studies Lorna Jean Edmonds welcomes everyone to this year’s gala.

In welcoming OHIO administrators, faculty, staff and students, as well as distinguished alumni and friends of the University, Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit discussed the importance of a global education in today’s interconnected world. She went on to highlight the University’s efforts to create cross-cultural learning experiences and partnerships and its long history of welcoming international students, noting that the Bobcat Family this semester includes nearly 1,500 international students from 117 countries.

“It is because of the dedication and excellence of our outstanding faculty, staff and alumni that Ohio University students are able to participate in unique and transformative global learning experiences,” Dr. Benoit said. “Tonight, we’re here to give well-deserved accolades to several individuals whose efforts have been especially noteworthy in that regard. This is an evening to thank you and to celebrate your important work in preparing Ohio University students to become the global leaders of the future.”

Special Recognition Awards

The awards portion of the evening began with special tributes to two individuals who have been instrumental in shaping OHIO’s recent global history.

A professor and co-chair in the College of Business’ Management Information Systems Program, Thom Luce was honored for his dedication and leadership to OHIO’s global efforts over the course of his nearly 30 years at the University.

“Thom has played a key role in OHIO’s international work and has been a helpful and important colleague for many of us here this evening,” Dr. Edmonds said in recognizing Dr. Luce.

Since joining OHIO in 1987, Dr. Luce has served as a visiting professor and coordinator of Ohio University’s MBA programs at the Institute Technology Mara in Malaysia, a visiting professor at Chubu University Japan, and chair of OHIO’s University International Council – a position he held for 10 years. His contributions also include teaching and working on OHIO-related projects on four continents.

“We would not be where we are without the outstanding work of Professor Thom Luce,” Dr. Edmonds added.

In addressing the room, Dr. Luce noted the role Ohio University has played in his personal journey and how his work at OHIO has allowed him to experience the world. 

“When I came to Ohio University 30 years ago, I discovered in Athens, Ohio, that there was a river that ran through it, but there was also a world that ran through it,” Dr. Luce said in accepting his award. “What I’m trying to lay out for you is how that river has touched me and I think many of you. … There is so much that happens here because we are connected with the world.”

Thom Luce talks about his global experience after accepting the 2016 Faculty Award for Excellence in Global Engagement.

Thom Luce talks about his global experience after accepting the 2016 Faculty Award for Excellence in Global Engagement.

Dr. Luce went on to speak about concerns he has not only for the Ohio University community and the country, but the world as a whole.

“I’m concerned that there are efforts to dam up the river which is the world, to build walls around the river which is the world, and that we will diminish the diversity that we have,” he said. “I really encourage everyone to do everything that we can to see that those walls don’t come up, to see that those dams don’t get built.”

Also receiving special recognition at the gala was Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis who will be stepping down from his post next June after 13 years of service to his alma mater.

“We want to recognize President McDavis for his work raising OHIO’s profile around the world, increasing our international education programs and emphasizing the importance of a truly global education,” Dr. Edmonds said.

Dr. Edmonds noted the charge she received from President McDavis shortly after she joined OHIO in 2013 – to create the University’s Global Strategy. The achievements made under President McDavis’ leadership include the creation and implementation of OHIO’s Global Strategy; the naming of an OHIO residence hall – Tanaka Hall – in honor of the family credited with establishing the OHIO-Chubu University relationship; and the establishment of an innovative dual-degree program with Germany’s Leipzig University. 

“While at OHIO, President McDavis has traveled around the world representing Ohio University in order to create new partnerships, meet with students and alumni, and increase the number of educational opportunities for our students,” Dr. Edmonds said.

First Lady Deborah A. McDavis accepted the award “on behalf of a very proud and grateful president,” noting the joy and sadness the couple has felt at many events they’ve attended this semester as each celebratory occasion marks their last. 

In reflecting on their time at OHIO, First Lady McDavis said, “The most coveted and rewarding experiences for both of us have been our engagement and involvement with our international institutions.”

OHIO First Lady Deborah A. McDavis accepts a special recognition award on behalf of her husband, Ohio University’s 20th president, Roderick J. McDavis.

OHIO First Lady Deborah A. McDavis accepts a special recognition award on behalf of her husband, Ohio University’s 20th president, Roderick J. McDavis.

First Lady McDavis noted the partnerships and friendships forged as a result of the travel that she and President McDavis have engaged in over the past nearly 13 years.

“It is these contacts and experiences, these travels abroad that have helped shape our campus, this campus into the hallmark global community that it is now and that we know it will continue to be,” she said, thanking those individuals and entities who made those experiences possible. “What the Academy thrives on, on this campus and at universities worldwide, is diversity and inclusion. At Ohio University, we must continue to develop young minds to be knowledgeable about others, respectful of different perspectives and opinions, and willing to join those who are different from us.”

Awards for Excellence in Global Engagement

David Koonce, associate dean of OHIO’s Graduate College and a member of the IEW Planning Committee, kicked off the presentation of the Awards for Excellence in Global Engagement.

“These awards recognize faculty, staff and alumni for their outstanding contributions to international education, global competency, cultural understanding and/or international programs at Ohio University or in their fields or disciplines,” Dr. Koonce said.

Twenty-four nominations were received for this year’s awards, and winners were selected for the first time by a committee comprised of previous award winners.

Faculty Award

The 2016 Faculty Award for Excellence in Global Engagement was presented to Edna Wangui, an associate professor of geography.

Dr. Wangui was introduced by her colleague and one of her award nominators, Harold Perkins, an associate professor of geography, who noted several of the contributions Dr. Wangui has made to OHIO since joining the faculty in 2006. In addition to her work studying gender, the environment and development in East Africa, Dr. Wangui has served as a co-investigator in at least three National Science Foundation-funded projects in Kenya and Tanzania and has had her work published in many prestigious publications. She has served on the advisory board for OHIO’s African and Global Studies programs and is part of the University’s Gender Development Learning Community – just to name a few of her achievements. 

“I can’t say enough about how she’s greatly strengthened the global breadth and depth of our geography program as well,” Perkins said. “And I think, in all honesty, she’s probably the nicest person in the world.”

“This is such a distinct honor,” Dr. Wangui said in accepting the award.

2016 Faculty Award for Excellence in Global Engagement winner Edna Wangui is all smiles as she shares her global journey from Kenya to Ohio University.

2016 Faculty Award for Excellence in Global Engagement winner Edna Wangui is all smiles as she shares her global journey from Kenya to Ohio University.

She spoke of witnessing OHIO’s commitment to global engagement long before coming to Athens. As an undergraduate in Nairobi, Kenya, Dr. Wangui said she had the privilege of learning from OHIO professors and Kenyan professors who had studied here, in addition to reading books on East Africa published by the Ohio University Press.

“The promise to be part of this thriving and engaging international academic community is the reason I left San Francisco to move to Athens, Ohio,” she said, adding that while at OHIO she’s had the opportunity to collaborate with faculty and graduate students on research and to take OHIO undergraduates and graduate students to Tanzania and Kenya to conduct research.

“Ultimately, our successes are collective in nature,” Dr. Wangui said in thanking the OHIO community for her award.

Staff Award

This year’s Staff Award for Excellence in Global Engagement was presented to Catherine Marshall, a 15-year OHIO employee who has served as director of the Office of Global Opportunities (OGO) for the past nine years. 

In introducing her boss, mentor and friend, Lori Lammert, associate director of OGO, touched on the reasons she nominated Dr. Marshall for the award as well as her legacy at OHIO.

Lammert noted that Dr. Marshall has built the administrative backbone that facilitates students’ global experiences, makes herself available around the clock to support OHIO faculty and students, and supports innovation and change.

“During her service time, the Office of Global Opportunities has touched the lives of more than 10,000 students by facilitating the opportunity that has allowed them to experience the world,” Lammert said. “These experiences exemplify transformative learning and set students on their journeys toward global citizenship."

Catherine Marshall, winner of the 2016 Staff Award for Excellence in Global Engagement, talks about the good fortune she has had – as a child, a young academic, and a member of the OHIO community – when it comes to global experiences and opportunities.

Catherine Marshall, winner of the 2016 Staff Award for Excellence in Global Engagement, talks about the good fortune she has had – as a child, a young academic, and a member of the OHIO community – when it comes to global experiences and opportunities.

Upon accepting her award, Dr. Marshall shared her journey toward a career in global education and engagement – a journey that began with a doll collection she accumulated as a child and that piqued her curiosity about different cultures throughout the world. 

That journey continued as she began studying foreign languages in elementary school, took advantage of study abroad opportunities in college, and paid those experiences forward as an assistant professor of German. In that position, Dr. Marshall was able to take students to Germany in the summer, advise students on exchange opportunities in the German-speaking world, and mentor students applying for Fulbrights to Germany.

“I carried these experiences and insights to Ohio University where I’ve had the privilege to collaborate with and learn from faculty, staff and students who are true champions of global education,” Dr. Marshall said in expressing gratitude for the award. “In the 15 years I’ve been here, we’ve worked together to expand the number of global opportunities available to students and include students who might never have thought that a global experience was achievable.” 

Alumni Award

The 2016 Alumni Award for Excellence in Global Engagement was presented to Beatrice Selotlegeng, a graduate of OHIO’s Master of Business Administration Program who serves the College of Business as an academic advisor and director of the Junior Executive Business Program.

Steve Howard, director of OHIO’s Center for International Studies and last year’s winner of the Faculty Award for Excellence in Global Engagement, introduced his colleague and friend, noting how Selotlegeng has supported members of the OHIO community and forged connections between the University and her homeland of Botswana.

“What Beatrice represents so beautifully is the so many wonderful alumni of this institution who work tirelessly to keep this place going, particularly in our international arrangements and in my own office,” Dr. Howard said. “Beatrice has never met a stranger, and she has really done such an excellent and careful job of instructing us and shaping the wonderful connections we have.”

Dr. Howard also commented on the relationships Selotlegeng has formed with the countless number of students she has advised and worked with since joining OHIO in 2006.

“Beatrice is also so dearly loved by many, many students,” Dr. Howard said. “And we have benefited from the wonderful years we’ve had with her.”

In accepting her award, Selotlegeng said, “I am truly standing here tonight because of the support, love and friendships that I have here at Ohio University.”

2016 Alumni Award for Excellence in Global Engagement winner Beatrice Selotlegeng poses for a photo with Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit.

2016 Alumni Award for Excellence in Global Engagement winner Beatrice Selotlegeng poses for a photo with Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit.

Selotlegeng gave credit to key players at OHIO’s College of Business who were instrumental in recruiting her to the University and have supported her during her time here. 

“As soon as I arrived here, I discovered I had joined a wonderful college,” she said before turning her attention to the University as a whole. “Ohio University is to be commended for its vision to pursue global engagement, global affairs and international studies. … It will always be my honor and my privilege to play my role as we create opportunities for cultural competencies for faculty and empower and prepare the young people to be global thinkers and leaders.”

“I love it here. I love what I do,” Selotlegeng added – a sentiment that was returned to her in the form of a standing ovation.

Tanaka-OHIO Award for Excellence in Global Engagement

The evening also included the second annual presentation of the Tanaka-OHIO Award for Excellence in Global Engagement, created in honor of OHIO’s long-standing international partnerships and presented to a Chubu University faculty or staff member who is committed to international education, global competency and cultural understanding. 

This year’s Tanaka-OHIO Award was presented to Tadashi Shiozawa, professor of English language and culture at Chubu University.

Chris Thompson, chair of the Department of Linguistics, introduced Dr. Shiozawa whom Dr. Thompson met during his first year of teaching at OHIO.

“Professor Shiozawa knows us well and, as a result, has been a major contributor to the Ohio University-Chubu partnership in a multitude of ways over many, many years,” Dr. Thompson said. “He’s a globally-minded educator, researcher and administrator.”

In accepting the award, Dr. Shiozawa noted how pleased he was to be able to be a part of OHIO’s International Education Week and how happy he was to be back at Ohio University.

Chubu University’s Tadashi Shiozawa accepts the 2016 Tanaka-OHIO Award for Excellence in Global Engagement.

Chubu University’s Tadashi Shiozawa accepts the 2016 Tanaka-OHIO Award for Excellence in Global Engagement. 

“I’m a Bobcat,” he said. 

Dr. Shiozawa explained that he came to OHIO in 1979 as an Ohio Program of Intensive English (OPIE) student – an experience, he said, that changed his whole life.

“I became confident and decided to pursue my career as a teacher and eventually a college professor,” he said. “Ohio University trained me to be a globally-minded person.”

Dr. Shiozawa noted that his relationship with OPIE continues today as he is heavily involved in the process at Chubu University that sends approximately 50 students to Ohio University each fall. He took the opportunity to thank Gerard Krzic, director of OPIE and a previous winner of the Staff Award for Excellence in Global Engagement, for his work with Chubu University’s OPIE students.

“Ohio University and international education mean so much to me,” he said.

Global Health Case Competition Winners

The gala ended with the announcement of the winners of this year’s Global Health Case Competition.

In its third year, the Global Health Case Competition challenges OHIO students from all academic backgrounds to come up with solutions to real-world health problems. Sponsored by OHIO’s Global Health Initiative, the goal of the competition is to promote awareness of 21st-century global health issues, introduce students to diverse factors that affect decision-making, and encourage students from different disciplines to collaborate on solutions.

Eight teams, comprised of 15 graduate students and 17 undergraduate students representing 12 colleges, participated in this year’s competition, which challenged teams of students to develop a multi-faceted response to health issues as a result of climate change and the resulting environmental issues in Paraguay. The case study was developed by Kerri Shaw, an instructor in OHIO’s Department of Social and Public Health and director of the Paraguay: Explore, Connect, Serve Program.

College of Health Sciences and Professions Dean Randy Leite announced the winners of this year’s competition, who will travel to Paraguay next summer to implement their suggested solutions to the case study.

First-place honors were awarded to Team Tranquilo, which included: Fifhi Embaye, a master’s student studying social work; Ellen Haile, an undergraduate majoring in political science; Brenna Innocenzi, an undergraduate majoring in exercise physiology; and Abby Young, a junior majoring in communication studies. Team Tranquilo’s proposal addresses the health risks in the community of Bañado Sur in Paraguay by implementing a multi-faceted health and environmental solution with a goal of reducing health risks by increasing health promotion awareness and reducing environmental risks by repurposing trash.

Members of Team Tranquilo (from left) Fifthi Embaye, Brenna Innocenzi and Abby Young are pictured after being named the winners of this year’s Global Health Case Competition. Not pictured is fellow team member Ellen Haile.

Members of Team Tranquilo (from left) Fifthi Embaye, Brenna Innocenzi and Abby Young are pictured after being named the winners of this year’s Global Health Case Competition. Not pictured is fellow team member Ellen Haile.

Coming in second place was Team Qhali Kay, which included: Guillermo Gómez, a master’s student studying critical studies in educational foundations; Ibrahim Huthman, a graduate student studying civil engineering; Bonita Kalinga, an undergraduate studying global studies with a focus on Africa; and Belén Marco, a master’s student in visual communication.

Taking third-place honors was Team Chicas por el Cambio, which included: Jessica Arnold, a master’s student in international development and gender; Julia Flint, a master’s candidate in Latin American studies; Gabriela Fuentes, a master’s candidate in the communication and development program and women’s, gender and sexuality studies; and Patricia Mora, a doctoral student in translational biomedical studies.

The top three teams in this year’s Global Health Case Competition pose for a photo with Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit, Vice Provost for Global Affairs and International Studies Lorna Jean Edmonds, and First Lady Deborah A. McDavis.

Members of the top three teams in this year’s Global Health Case Competition pose for a photo with Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit, Vice Provost for Global Affairs and International Studies Lorna Jean Edmonds, and First Lady Deborah A. McDavis.

For more information about OHIO’s International Education Week, including the Awards for Excellence in Global Engagement and the Global Health Case Competition, click here