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2005 University Exemplary Department Award honors Cranwell International Center, human development


BLACKSBURG, Va., Dec. 6, 2005 – Cranwell International Center and the Department of Human Development in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences will receive Virginia Tech’s 2005 University Exemplary Department Awards at ceremonies to be held Wednesday, Dec. 7 at The Inn at Virginia Tech.

"The University Exemplary Awards Program recognizes the work of departments or programs that maintain a first class teaching and learning environment for students and faculty," said Ron Daniel, associate provost for undergraduate education, who oversees the awards program. “Through this award, Virginia Tech publicly honors the collaborative efforts and successes of a group of dedicated colleagues who perform work that is essential for sustaining a truly excellent academic environment.”

In 2005, the award program focused on the theme of enhancing global diversity by effectively increasing the numbers of culturally different faculty, staff, and students, and/or promoting and supporting international and multicultural perspectives to support the missions of the university

President Charles W. Steger and Provost Mark McNamee will present plaques and $10,000 awards to Kim Beisecker, director of the Cranwell International Center, and to Fred Piercy, professor and head of the Department of Human Development, on behalf of their respective programs.

Cranwell International Center

Established in 1986 with a gift from the William Cranwell family in Blacksburg, the Cranwell International Center serves approximately 2,300 international undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and scholars (along with their families) from more than 110 different nations. As the focal point for Virginia Tech’s international community, the center provides a wide range of educational, social, and cultural programs.

In addition to responding to the needs of the international community, the Cranwell Center also encourages exchanges between international students and scholars and their U.S. counterparts, including residents of Blacksburg and the New River Valley. The center plays an active roll in organizing two of Virginia Tech’s most popular campus events: the Dance of Nations, held each fall, and the International Street Fair, held in the spring. Both events are a showcase for cultures from across the world and allow thousands of people to enjoy the foods, dances, and customs of these diverse cultures.

The center plays a critical role in attracting international students to Virginia Tech for undergraduate and graduate study and providing immigration assistance to students and their dependents. In the years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Virginia Tech has maintained a steady number of international students while many universities have experienced a decline.

The Cranwell Center also provides a variety of essential pre-arrival services to students—chief among them is the often difficult and challenging task of obtaining a visa and arriving in the United States. The personal care accorded each student by the center, such as the simple gesture of arranging for transportation from the Roanoke Airport to the Blacksburg campus, goes far in helping internationals to feel welcome in a new country. The center maintains a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week hotline to help students who may be in crisis or simply have a question.

The center often helps departments or individuals who are recruiting or hosting visitors from other countries. In addition, the center conducts a variety of training sessions that promote and foster international and multicultural perspectives on campus. The International Friendship Program matches international students with local residents for a friendship exchange during the student's stay at Virginia Tech.

Earlier this year, following the devastating tsunami in Southern Asia, the Cranwell Center played a central role in the revival of Hokies United, a student-led volunteer effort that responds to local, national, and international tragedies that may impact the Virginia Tech community.

Department of Human Development, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences

The Department of Human Development in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences has been recognized as an Exemplary Department for enhancing global diversity and promoting international and multi-cultural perspectives. It provides an environment where women, international students, and ethnic minorities feel comfortable working, living, and studying.

The department itself is intentionally culturally rich (17 percent of its faculty are African American, 11 percent are Asian, and 78 percent are female), as it has created and administered a wide range of faculty retention/diversity programs over the past three years. Among the various initiatives secured with $160,000 in funding, the department has developed a university-wide diversity research mini-grant program; organized the Mid-Atlantic Conference on the Scholarship of Diversity; hosted a college-wide diversity summit; and held monthly mentoring meetings for new faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Faculty initiatives are diverse in themselves. For example, Human Development is home to the Lugano-Reggio Research Collaborative, a group that is shaping early childhood education around the world, and which will be hosting its third international conference this spring. In the wake of last year’s tsunami in southern Asia, two faculty members co-led a workshop in Indonesia for mental health workers caring for survivors. Another member of the faculty organized an international conference in Oxford focused on female career decision-making. Closer to home, another faculty member refined the human sexuality course so that it is now an Area 7 (international) core course.

Department faculty have garnered significant awards. Vickie Fu received this year’s university Alumni Award for Excellence in International Education. Peggy Meszaros recently received the Phi Beta Delta International Faculty Service Award. Marcie Boucouvalas received the International Hall of Fame Award in Adult Education, and served as the U.S. delegate to the world assemblies of Adult Education in Thailand, Cairo, and Jamaica, and was selected as the U.S. delegate to the UNESCO Assembly in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The department has provided study abroad opportunities in Sweden, India, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Italy. It has also developed relationships with international institutions, including Madras University, India; Zayed University, Dubai; Atma Jaya University and University of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia; Korean Youth Development Institute, Seoul; Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia; Miriam College, Quezon City, the Philippines; and University of Alberta, Canada.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become among the largest universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.