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NIU recognizes outstanding contributions in international education

December 7, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic might have curtailed international travel this year, but it hasn’t dampened the spirit of international education at NIU.

The International Recognition Reception in November honored individuals in the NIU community for their contributions and achievements in international education during the past year.

“Our international education efforts continue, even during the most challenging times,” said Bradley Bond, associate vice president for the Division of International Affairs. “It’s important to take a moment and celebrate the work of faculty, staff and students.”

Purush Damodaran from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering was named recipient of this year’s Outstanding International Educator Award.

Professor Purush Damodaran in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering was named recipient of this year’s Outstanding International Educator Award.

Damodaran was recognized for creating a welcoming climate for international students and faculty, for fostering collaborations among NIU students and peers abroad, and for influencing internationalization of the curriculum by promoting NIU’s programs in India, China, Nepal and Nigeria.

“He single-handedly brought international students to work with our students in the senior design project, and invited and introduced international scholars to researchers at NIU for increased research activity,” Professor Christine Nguyen wrote in her nomination of Damodaran.

“As all our faculty are of diverse national origins and cultures, he takes the time to introduce them to companies in the region and invites them to participate in sponsored projects,” she added. “I have personally benefited from such research mentoring.”

Anna Wojciechowski was named recipient of the Outstanding Student Contribution to International Education Award.

A World Languages and Cultures major with a French and Francophone emphasis, Wojciechowski strives to be a global citizen through academic opportunities, campus organizations and the DeKalb community. She has participated in three different programs through the Study Abroad Office, including two study abroad experiences in France and a virtual internship in Ireland.

“Even when (COVID-19) put a halt to international travel, Anna continued to seek out new opportunities with the Study Abroad Office,” advisor and nominator Jill Vodden wrote. “This past summer Anna completed a summer virtual internship with two organizations in Dublin, Ireland. After completing this program, she created content about her virtual internship experience to educate the global community about virtual opportunities.”

NIU staff member Ted Moen, program coordinator in the College of Education’s External and Global Programs, received the award for Outstanding Staff Contribution to International Education.

Moen is instrumental in providing infrastructure, planning, fiscal administration and behind-the-scenes work supporting numerous efforts to broaden international learning, appreciate cultural diversity and exchange innovative ideas. This past February, he played a large role assisting the college in hosting 21 Uruguayan teachers who visited NIU in February.

“Ted has a unique way of making our international guests feel welcomed and at home,” wrote nominators Terry Borg and Kay Caster. “He has shared the Huskie pride in a personal manner.”

The Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment (ETRA) received the award for Outstanding Department Contribution to International Education.

ETRA is the College of Education leader in the recruitment of international faculty and students. The department’s faculty and doctoral students have been involved in promoting and supporting study abroad programs and have leveraged global relationships for faculty from other college departments. The department also has offered and supported international courses in the curriculum or inclusion of international issues in its courses.