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UKIC / Ukic Operations / UK receives NAFSA’s Simon Award for Outstanding Campus Internationalization

UK receives NAFSA’s Simon Award for Outstanding Campus Internationalization

Wednesday, February 15, 2023 | By Jenny Wells-Hosley and Erica Stewart

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 14, 2023) — Today, NAFSA: Association of International Educators announced that the University of Kentucky is among seven U.S. universities and colleges selected to receive a 2023 Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization.

Named after the late Senator Paul Simon of Illinois, the award celebrates outstanding innovation and accomplishment in campus internationalization, defined by NAFSA as a conscious effort to integrate and infuse international, intercultural and global dimensions into the ethos and outcomes of their students’ education.

UK is among just four universities and colleges to receive the Comprehensive Award, granted to a limited number of institutions each year. This award recognizes overall excellence in internationalization efforts as evidenced in mission, strategies, programs and results.

“We are thrilled to have been recognized with this prestigious award from NAFSA for the important work of advancing internationalization across campus,” said Sue Roberts, Ph.D., UK associate provost for internationalization. “Our strategic plan, Global UK, has served as a foundation for this work, guiding us in the creation of several new initiatives and the expansion of successful programs. This is all made possible by the work of a dedicated, passionate team in UK’s International Center and the collaboration and work of so many colleagues across campus. True campus internationalization is not possible without working across disciplines, departments and colleges, and this award is a testament to that partnership.”

The UK International Center (UKIC) launched “Global UK, a Strategic Plan for Campus Global Engagement” in 2021. Developed over the course of a year, the strategic plan is the product of diverse voices from across campus and the local community who collaborated to produce a framework that is deeply aligned with the university’s overall strategic plan and goals. The three pillars of the plan — inspiring global learning and discovery, fostering a globally engaged Kentucky, and creating a UK global hub — guide new initiatives focused on internationalization and build upon past successes.

One of these initiatives is UKIC’s Global Engagement Academy. Designed for UK faculty and staff, this free and accessible professional development program has cultivated a growing, diverse community of practice and identified champions of comprehensive internationalization across the institution. The program launched in 2020, and 234 UK faculty and staff have participated since its inception.

The Simon Award also recognizes several new initiatives at UK to advance internationalization, including “Explore First: Careers, Cultures and Connections,” an Education Abroad program designed for first-generation students to cultivate the transferable skills employers are seeking. UKIC’s Education Abroad & Exchanges, in partnership with the Stuckert Career Center and the Office of First-Generation Student Services, is welcoming the first cohort of students in this program in Summer 2023.

In addition to UK, the other recipients of the Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization include East Carolina University, Georgia State University and Northwestern University. Three other institutions received the Spotlight Award. Read more about the recipients here.

“For more than twenty years, the Senator Paul Simon Award has recognized the true standard-bearers in campus internationalization, and this year’s cohort is no exception,” said Daniel C. Stoll, Ph.D., NAFSA interim executive director and CEO. “Through faculty partnerships that bridge languages, cultures, and continents; a commitment to serving Afghan refugee students; and dedication to equity and affordability in study abroad participation, these awardees demonstrate how relevant international education is to a rapidly changing world. As NASFA marks its 75th anniversary, we salute this year’s recipients for their creative approaches to making a globally enriched education accessible to all students.”

Institutions selected for the Simon Awards will be featured in NAFSA's report, “Internationalizing the Campus: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities,” to be published this fall, and honored during NAFSA’s 2023 Annual Conference & Expo this spring.

To learn more about NAFSA’s Senator Paul Simon Awards, visit