Rice University is one of three schools that will receive the 2015 Sen. Paul Simon Spotlight Award from NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
Named for the late senator from Illinois who was a strong supporter of international education and foreign language learning, NAFSA’s Simon Awards recognize outstanding and innovative achievements in integrating international education across campus. Rice was chosen for a Spotlight Award in recognition of its Brasil@Rice Office. (The office name is spelled “Brasil” in recognition of the South American country’s preference.)
Rice established the Brasil@Rice Office in 2012 to help faculty members expand their academic and research collaborations with leading Brazilian universities and institutions. The following year Rice announced its first dual-degree doctoral program with the Universidade Estadual de Campinas in Campinas, Brazil, a public university ranked among the best in both Brazil and Latin America. The program allows history graduate students who study at Rice and Campinas to receive a Ph.D. from both schools if they meet certain criteria.
The Brasil@Rice Office provides specialized assistance for Brazilian faculty, researchers and students who come to Rice through exchange programs, and it offers travel grants to Rice faculty and students to visit Brazil.
Among Rice’s other outreach efforts in Brazil are a research collaboration with the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianopolis to remediate urban water that has been used to produce hydrocarbons for energy use; a memorandum of understanding with the University of São Paulo to facilitate academic exchange for students and research collaborations; and an agreement with Brazil’s National Council of Scientific and Technological Development that enables postdoctoral students and Ph.D. and undergraduate visiting students from Brazil to study at Rice annually with financial support from the council. Rice has established close ties with key officials in the Houston Brazilian Consulate and has been chosen as a leadership center by the Brazilian Ministry of Industrial Development. On campus, Rice students host a popular Brazilian Soccer Club.
“Rice’s initiatives with Brazil are part of our ongoing efforts to broaden the university’s international outreach as part of President David Leebron’s Vision for the Second Century,” said Provost George McLendon. “As the world’s fifth-largest country by geographical area as well as by population, and the largest Portuguese-speaking country in the world, Brazil has become of increasing importance to business, education and culture.”
“Rice has created a multilevel, cross-disciplinary exchange with Brazil that serves as a model for many other interchanges, including with different countries, as well as on a cultural, business and diplomacy level,” said Adria Baker, Rice’s associate vice provost for international education.
In addition to Rice, NAFSA selected Virginia Commonwealth University and Wake Forest University for a Simon Spotlight Award. The organization also honored five schools for comprehensive internationalization programs.
“We are proud to present NAFSA’s 2015 Simon Awards to these colleges and universities that have excelled in expanding global learning for students and scholars,” said NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Marlene M. Johnson. “This year’s Simon Award winners are outstanding models for how higher education across the country can and must innovate to prepare our graduates for success in today’s increasingly complex and interdependent world.”
Rice and the other schools selected for the Simon Awards will be featured in NAFSA’s “Internationalizing the Campus: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities” report this fall and honored at an event in Washington, D.C., during International Education Week in November.
With more than 10,000 members, NAFSA is the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education. The organization was founded in 1948 as the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers.