Faculty/Staff Excellence in Global Engagement Award

Faculty/Staff Excellence in Global Engagement Award

***Deadline extended to Friday, March 12, 2021***

The Office for Global Engagement (OGE) has established this award to recognize faculty and staff contributions to the university’s global dimension and those who have demonstrated excellence in facilitating student global learning and intercultural understanding. This may include international partnership development that engages students, curriculum revision to include global learning outcomes, the advancement of the learning of languages, and other initiatives that provide significant opportunities for global education either on campus or abroad. It may also include providing exceptional support or mentoring to international students and students participating in learning abroad programs. One faculty member and one staff member will be awarded (two awards). This is an annual award for which OGE seeks nominations each spring semester. The award selection and ceremony is held in early April each year.

Award Selection:

The award is based on an exemplary commitment to global engagement and internationalization, as expressed through research and creative activity, teaching, mentoring, curriculum transformation, professional service, advising/assisting students or a combination of these activities. The emphasis should be on global learning, intercultural competence, and engaging/supporting students. A focus solely on research/scholarship at the international level without an impact on students will not be considered.


  • A substantial part of the activities shall have been accomplished as a faculty/staff member at the University of Utah
  • The award shall be based on an accumulated record of commitment to global engagement, rather than a single project or activity
  • Job description or responsibilities of faculty or staff member cannot exclusively focus on global education, international student services, learning abroad advising, and other aspects of global engagement


In addition to the Nomination Form, nominations must also include:

  • Statement by the nominator regarding the nominee’s record of commitment
  • Two letters of recommendation addressing the selection criteria for the award

OGE is seeking nominations from across campus from faculty, staff, and students.

The award includes $1,000, and recognition at a reception and via University of Utah publications and websites.

Send the Completed Application:

Please submit the nomination form, and letters of recommendation using the following form:

Faculty/Staff Excellence in Global Engagement Award

Nominator Contact Information:

File Uploads:

Nomination Form *
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Letter of Recommendation 1 *
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Letter of Recommendation 2 *
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Please address any questions regarding the Excellence in Global Engagement award to Sabine Klahr, Associate Chief Global Officer.

Award Recipients



Associate Clinical Professor and Certified Nurse-Midwife Dr. Debra Penney has dedicated her career to global healthcare of women. Specializing in International Health, Public Health and Refugee Health Service, she has been a valued member of our U community for nearly 20 years. Her reputation shows she has been “going global” long before it became a campus priority. As nominators Jane M. Dyer, Emerita Assistant Professor, and Deanna Kepka, Associate Professor, note “[Dr. Penney] has an impressive accumulated record of commitment to and impact on global engagement at the U, not all visible on a traditional academic CV.”

Dr. Penney’s sophisticated understanding of how beliefs and attitudes affect physical and mental health greatly enriches her coursework and leadership.

She has presented nationally and locally on cultural responsiveness, refugees and women’s health. Her extensive research with and care for Iraqi Muslim women has helped U students learn more about how nursing care can better adapt to meet patient needs. Her ability to speak Arabic and keen understanding of culture has made her the most sought-after local healthcare provider to Arabic-speaking women, and she has adjusted her clinical schedule and time to remain her patients’ sole provider through pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

Dr. Penney’s ongoing work with University Neighborhood Partners has fostered priceless learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduates alike. She stands out as a dedicated, compassionate mentor to students looking to expand their global perspective, whether through fostering supportive overseas experiences or initiating local projects with diverse groups. According to nominator Jennifer Clifton, “she encourages students to look broadly at problems and to consider the cultural social and political foundations that perpetuate poor health access and outcomes.”

In 2017, Dr. Penney received one of the first Global Learning Across Disciplines grants awarded at the U. Along with her team, she used the funding to investigate the implementation of global learning in the College of Nursing from both faculty and student perspectives. The grant also supported two multicultural sessions to increase cultural awareness and address gaps in cultural understanding. She continues to inspire student demand for additional global content in the Nursing curriculum and has inspired and encouraged fellow faculty to meet the request. She contributed significantly to the undergraduate course “Global Public Health,” and formed an Interprofessional Education course among the global health certificate courses offered by the School of Medicine.

Her passion and dedication to our global community is evident in the way she serves her patients, our local refugee community, the U Nursing and School of Medicine community, and the field of global healthcare.

Professor of Civil Engineering Dr. Steve Burian came to the University of Utah in 2003. In the 17 years since, he has made an indelible mark in many areas across campus. His impact is felt through his many leadership roles with the Global Change and Sustainability Center, Sustainability Curriculum Development, the U Water Center, Engineers Without Borders, and the U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water. His multi-national research collaborators comment on his unfailing dedication and, despite all of his engagements, he remains a beloved and highly sought-after instructor, with students touting his dedication, clarity and kindness.

Just this year, Dr. Burian completed the five-year and nearly $10M USAID project that created the U.S.-Pakistan Center for Advanced Studies in Water—a joint-initiative between the U and Mehran University for Engineering & Technology in Jamshoro, Pakistan aimed at addressing water security in the region. As department chair Dr. Michael Barber notes, the project “has led to publications, externally funded research projects, and an impressive pool of Ph.D. applicants for the U. [Dr. Burian] has also used this grant to leverage [the U’s] profile among our peer institutions here in the U.S. with recent proposals including Arizona, Colorado State, and UNLV.” USPCASW is now in the post-grant sustainability phase—the project launched 7 new degrees and 32 new courses at MUET, boasts 75 graduates and 220 active students (36% of which are female), and has raised an additional 2.5 million dollars in funding. Over 160 students and faculty from MUET have called the U home for a semester during technical and cultural exchanges over the duration of the project. Burian logged countless hours of travel between Utah and Pakistan and remained readily available to colleagues in Mountain Time as well as colleagues 11 hours ahead in Jamshoro. Throughout, Burian never stopped innovating, constantly seeking new ways to enhance the capacity of program participants. His efforts were recognized in 2019 by the President of Pakistan when he was awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz—one of the nation’s highest civil decorations noting significant contribution to the country.

Dr. Burian’s global reach extends to several other regions. He has played an important role in establishing the Department of Civil Engineering’s undergraduate program at the U’s Asia Campus. He has led efforts to establish international partnerships in Egypt, Malawi, India, Spain and Costa Rica--where he established interdisciplinary training programs for students. And he continues to expand upon the success of USPCASW with new collaborations in Pakistan.

Dr. Burian is also a Global Learning Across Disciplines Grant recipient and used the funding to develop classroom activities and assessments of global learning for Civil Engineering students and over 150 exchange students from Pakistan. As one nominator says, Dr. Burian has continually fostered “cross-campus collaboration for global impact.”

Mr. Kim’s arrival at the U’s Asia Campus as the Assistant Director of Marketing & PR.marked a new chapter in visibility and reputation for our campus in Korea. From his first days on the job, Mr. Kim demonstrated a championing attitude, genuine concern for students, and desire to shout University of Utah spirit to the rooftops.

He is a regular feature at all UAC events and is prompt to promote campus activities. A networker by nature, Mr. Kim has excelled at partnering with local media to pitch stories about faculty and student success.

It is notable that two of the nominations for Mr. Kim came from students. His engagement with our student community at UAC has been truly outstanding--above and beyond the scope of his job title. Mr. Kim has taken it upon himself to create new opportunities for students to intern with Korean media, marketing and PR companies. He has spearheaded workshops and job fairs that have helped UAC students advance their careers and has even facilitated remote internships for UAC students struggling to find internships in the U.S. “Mr. Kim has not only enriched UAC students’ academic experiences by offering numerous volunteer and work opportunities, but has also significantly raised the reputation of the university through his participation in myriad outside programs,” notes one student nominator.

He is called “diligent and considerate” as well as an exceptional communicator. His efforts to create strong lines of communication between both campuses have not gone unnoticed. “He is consistently looking for opportunities to promote the great work and global message of the U both in Korea and internationally,” noted Jessica Taylor of University Marketing and Communications.

Mr. Kim’s significant positive impact in supporting and engaging UAC students on campus in a variety of ways makes him quite deserving of this award. He has promoted the U's culture at the UAC and helped the larger community understand what it means to be part of the U. “It is difficult to think [about] the UAC without Onsoo,” notes another student nominator.


Mimi Locher is Associate Professor and Chair of the School of Architecture. According to her nominator, Mimi has brought her professional experiences in Japan where she focused on the interconnection between craft and culture, to her academic career at the U. Since her arrival at the U, she has led nine learning abroad programs to Japan coupled with additional trips with Go Learn to extend global learning to community members. She has also led programs to Nepal, assisted with a College of Social Work project with the refugee community on the Thai/Burma border, and is leading the College of Architecture + Planning’s new program in Italy this fall semester.

She is an active member of the Global U Council, the Faculty Learning Community on Global Learning, the Global Health Steering Committee, and the Faculty Advisory Council of the Asia Center. Mimi is also active in the community regarding refugees and immigrants in the valley.

Mimi has become the leading advocate for global learning in the College and across campus, most notably having received a GLAD Grant for a project designed to embed global citizenship within Architecture and Design curricula. Efforts to integrate global learning has gained such momentum that several faculty members in the College have joined to propose the development of a Research Center on Global Citizenship in Architecture and Design. Global citizenship has also become the basis of one of the assessment rubrics developed by the School of Architecture.

Mimi’s tireless efforts have resulted in all students in the School of Architecture to have access to global learning, curricular transformation and a high touch approach to global advising. Her academic career has been dedicated to global learning and Mimi has refined this as an area of expertise and advocacy, not only in the School of Architecture, but across the College and campus.

Bryce is the Associate Director, Administration, for both the Asia Center and the Center for Latin American Studies.Both are US Department of Education Title VI National Resource Centers, representing the pinnacle of international and area studies programs in US higher education. National Resource Center funding and designation is highly prestigious and competitive. At the U, the two Centers represent excellence in global engagement and education.

Bryce’s exemplary commitment to global engagement and internationalization is manifest in the leadership and support he has provided to numerous initiatives in the Centers over the years, extending far beyond his job duties.Collectively, initiatives that Bryce has supported have brought a wealth of opportunities to students and faculty to expand their international scholarship, to gain intercultural competence, and to engage collaboratively with overseas organizations. In addition to providing skilled administrative and budgetary support to a complex array of programming, Bryce actively engages in designing programs and guiding the vision of the Centers. Therefore, a sizable portion of the U’s global engagement footprint, across a wide range of disciplines and university constituents, originates from Bryce’s tireless efforts.

There are numerous examples cited by his nominators regarding Bryce’s exceptional support to advance not only the missions and visions of the two Centers, but also International Studies and Middle East Studies at the U. They state that Bryce has a unique capacity to envision how the strengths and resources of the international and area studies programs can be leveraged with the efforts of others at the U and in the community to maximize potential and deepen their impact on internationalization at the U.

One of his letters of recommendation states that “It is no exaggeration to say that the success and growth of the Centers and international and area studies more broadly would not have been possible without the hard work, dedication to the university’s internationalization efforts, and the skills Bryce has brought to his role. His efforts and commitment to internationalization will have longstanding impacts for years to come.”

Aleta is the Associate Director of the Tanner Center for Human Rights and has been with the Center since its inception. She provided the early advocacy and support to develop the Center as an independent entity after its founding as part of Peace and Conflict Studies. Her nominators emphasize her deep commitment to human rights and educating students and the community about human rights. She has been instrumental in bringing leading human rights activists to campus focused on a wide range of issues such as sex trafficking, migration,the experiences of refugees in the US, water rights, globalization, conflict and peacemaking, and religion.

The Tanner Center for Human Rights organizes an annual forum with an academic and research component as well as a community dimension. Aleta handles all of the logistical and promotional work and has the unique skill to deeply engage students, faculty, staff, and community members in the global issues addressed by the forum. Beyond the forum, Aleta has been a driving force to organize programs that expose students to international human rights issues and has given them opportunities to actively engage via Amnesty International and the organization’s “Write for Rights” campaign. For this campaign, students learn about imprisoned activists around the world and write letters seeking their release.

Aleta has spearheaded collaborative efforts with community organizations such as the Red Cross, Utah Coalition for Citizen Diplomacy, and the Utah Film Center to develop curriculum in K-12 education on humanitarian law, to co-sponsor speakers, and to promote screenings of films on human rights issues.

One of her nominators states that “Her efforts to advance the Center and her vision for the Center’s future promise to expand our current thinking about the interdependence and interrelationship of respect for human rights and the educational mission of our institution. Because of her efforts I am confident that the Center is well situated to enrich human rights as an area of inquiry with important practical applications for individuals interested in global issues to elevate our institution to greater prominence.”


Rosey is a faculty member in the College of Social Work and served as Special Assistant to the President for Campus-Community Partnerships and Director of University Neighborhood Partners.

Throughout Rosey Hunter’s nearly 30 years as a faculty member at the U, she has been deeply engaged in international projects and has facilitated a range of projects benefitting U students and internationalization at the University of Utah.

She implemented the Thai/Burma border training program bringing U faculty, students, and community members to refugee camps for training and cultural exchange. This program is now in its 10th year.

Rosey created the Case Management Certificate Program in the College of Social Work which enrolls students from refugee and immigrant backgrounds living in our community. Its online version enrolls refugee students from Uganda, Thailand, and Burma.

She has initiated partnerships for the CSW with a number of organizations around the world. Rosey has been a tireless advocate for internationalizing student experiences on our campus and providing access to a relevant education for students with refugee and immigrant backgrounds, both here in SLC as well as abroad.

Rosey was awarded a Global Learning Across the Disciplines Grant from OGE in Fall 2017 to internationalize the Social Work curriculum.

She was recently accepted as a Global Ambassador for the Global Social Services Workforce Alliance. In this capacity, she will work with a global network of leaders on strategy and policy issues to support efforts to strengthen the social services profession at a global level.This network and the focus on global perspectives and practices will improve teaching and learning in the College of Social Work.

Would like to thank her nominatorsShantel Baldonado de Arraiz and Melissa Mendelson as well as Scott Jarvis and Ed Rubin who provided letters of reference.

Karen is the Director of English for Academic Success in the Linguistics Department and oversees the TESOL Certificate Program.

Karen has been providing exceptional support to international students throughout her career at the U. Although her position in Linguistics focuses on enhancing English language and writing skills of international students at the U, she has gone far beyond her position responsibilities to advocate for international students.

Karen has worked tirelessly to develop and improve programs and courses that meet international students’ unique needs, partnering with departments across campus to integrate international students more successfully, and educating faculty and staff regarding best practices to meet the academic needs of international students.

Other departments and senior administrators often consult Karen regarding English language learner and cross-cultural issues. Beyond Karen’s support for international students, she has been central to her Department’s and theUniversity’s efforts to develop cross-cultural awareness among domestic students at theU, recruit international students, and engage in service-oriented outreach with the immigrant communities in Utah.

Karen has demonstrated exceptional commitment to address the local immigrant communities’ need for English language training. For example, Karen is implementing solutions regarding language skills and professional development for over 200 custodians who are non-native English speakers working at the University Hospital.

Beyond the University, Karen is a US State Department English Language Specialist and in this role has provided training to English language teachers in Eastern Europe and Asia. She also conducts pre-departure workshops for students nationally who were awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant.

Karen consistently demonstrates a deep interest in cultures around the world and a commitment to cross-cultural understanding.


Marilyn recently retired from her position of Assistant Director for the Academic Advising Center. In this role, she had a significant impact on the experience and success of international students at the U, both directly through her academic advising, and indirectly by helping academic advisors across campus increase their skills and confidence in addressing the needs and concerns of international students. She was considered the expert on international student advising in the Academic Advising Center and demonstrated cultural sensitivity as well as vast knowledge of the University which made international students feel comfortable reaching out to Marilyn. She was also considered an expert among the advising staff members and was committed to sharing her knowledge and understanding of international student issues with the rest of the staff. Additionally, Marilyn provided advising staff with helpful resources she compiled to use when meeting with new international students.

Marilyn served as a liaison between the Academic Advising Center and International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS)/OGE as well as the University Academic Advising Committee to coordinate resources and support structures for international students and to build relationships between students and advisors. She was a long-term partner toISSS/OGE in coordinating the International Advising Workshop Series once a semester which focused on addressing the unique needs of international students in academic advising contexts. Her nominator stated: “Having traveled extensively herself, she genuinely appreciates the value of cross-cultural awareness. All student benefit when they have the opportunity to learn side-by-side with students from vastly different backgrounds and cultures.”

Kathy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to global engagement that connects the U to entities around the world and provides students with opportunities to gain global competence. Kathy volunteers with the international community in Salt Lake City and connects students to these global opportunities as well. Additionally, Kathy has been very active in meeting health needs for underserved populations on a global basis for over three decades by conducting humanitarian outreach trips and hosting delegations from around the world to address problems with access to health care for those living in rural and other underserved areas in particular countries.

Kathy co-founded the “Global Partners Program” at the U under which she hosted visiting scholar physicians from Indonesia who come to the U for 9-month training programs in best practices in primary care, public health, and occupational medicine. This has resulted in rich cross-cultural experiences for Physician Assistant (PA) and Global Health students, residents in Family Medicine & Occupational Health, and faculty/physicians. Under this program, she has also coordinated a series of Emergency Medicine training workshops in Morocco and is hosting a visiting scholar from Angola at the U.

Kathy has led three faculty-led learning abroad programs to Nepal for PA and medical students which constitutes part of an elective rotation. She has also been actively involved in introducing intercultural training into the PA curriculum.

For the School of Medicine, she has served on the Executive Council of the Office of Global Health and she has served on national professional association committees focused on international affairs. In the local community, Kathy volunteers at the Maliheh Free Clinic on a weekly basis providing free health care services for underserved individuals in Salt Lake City. Kathy cares deeply about the underserved in our community and around the world, working tirelessly on behalf of those less fortunate. She educates students about these issues and gets them involved, serving as a role model for PA and medical students, to gain cross-cultural skills, have a global perspective, and put service before self.


Becky became the Director of Latin American Studies in 2007 and built the program into a National Resource Center and the Center for Latin American Studies by2014. National Resource Centers, funded by the US Dept of Education, represent the pinnacle of achievement and funding for international and area studies programs. She has been successful in securing a wide range of external funding to support global education at the U, including scholarship funding for students of Mexican origin for four years in a row, funding to develop a Nahuatl Language and Indigenous Studies Program, and other grant funding totaling over $3 million. Funding from the NRC supports over20 Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships annually providing full tuition and generous stipends to graduate and undergraduate students.

Becky created two new programs under the Center for Latin American Studies: Portuguese and Brazilian Studies and an Indigenous Studies Program, both by procuring and leveraging university resources. Through Becky’s leadership and extensive collaboration with the Asia Center, Ethnic Studies, and community and K-12 partners, there is a strong focus on diversity in the expansion of global and area studies. This has allowed the university to recruit and retain diverse heritage language learners. Nationally, Becky has been a strong advocate for the synergy between goals of global education and diversity in higher education.

Becky has also been instrumental in the successful launch of the Culture and Languages Across the Curriculum (CLAC) development on the U campus which integrates language study into courses across a wide range of majors.

Her nominators state that “she is a creative and thoughtful leader who seeks to build bridges and partnerships. She understands the deep and important contributions made by area studies and is an adept and articulate advocate for global perspectives in education at all levels.”

Jay is an expert in second language writing theory and practice and has been an exceptional advocate for developing teaching methods focused on writing skills that best meet the needs of second language learners, including international students. His work in this regard on the U’s main campus as well as the Asia Campus has had a significant impact. Jay was part of the inaugural faculty cohort to teach at the Asia Campus where he created and taught the Block U course on global citizenship, established a writing center, and collaborated with fellow faculty members in the other disciplines represented at the Asia Campus to ensure a quality educational experience for students and to prepare the students to be successful in the American classroom, especially for when they transition to the main campus. At the Asia Campus, Jay led faculty efforts to coordinate assignments and materials across courses, focusing on writing across the curriculum. He also facilitated workshops for faculty designed to help students in all majors improve their writing skills. Since returning from Korea, Jay continues to dedicate his time to the success of the Asia Campus students by tracking the students’ experiences in writing in order to build a support system for them upon their arrival on the main campus.

Jay is one of the top scholars in the discipline of second language writing and provides leadership in mentoring faculty across campus to improve the teaching of writing for second language learners and to promote writing across the curriculum. His dedication to helping international students succeed is a significant contribution to global education on our campus. One of his nominators states that “his goal is to take us from a monocultural to a multicultural mindset where all cultures are valued for their contributions.”


Janet Theiss developed the Asia Center from an undergraduate Asian Studies Program into a US Department of Education National Resource Center,NRC, in a very short time. NRC’s represent the highest level of national recognition for international and area studies programs. She also assisted Becky Horn in achieving this level of recognition for Latin American Studies which is also an NRC now as the Center for Latin American Studies.

As Director of the Asia Center, Janet has significantly advanced internationalization at the U as well as language study, often in innovative ways.

Janet has been highly successful in securing external funding from private and federal sources to advance the mission of the Asia Center and global education totaling approximately $7.2 million to date. Along with internal matching funds, these grants have assisted in seeding faculty positions in several departments, expanding opportunities for global learning and advancing language study at the U. Via the NRC, she has been able to provide a significant amount of funding in scholarships for U students to study languages either as part of a study abroad program or otherwise.

Other contributions include:creating strategic partnerships within the state to promote Kindergarten-career language and international studies and recruiting underrepresented students to language and global studies and providing these heritage learners with opportunities to leverage their language and cultural competencies for their education and careers.

There are many other contributions outlined by Janet’s nominator and referees that I could mention, but in the interest of time, I would just like to summarize by quoting from the nomination letter: “Janet Theiss exemplifies faculty service that contributes to the university’s global dimension. She has established an extraordinary and sustained record of service, expanding and enhancing opportunities for student engagement and global learning on campus. She has enhanced the educational experience for students, the research and teaching opportunities for faculty, and the national profile of international studies at the University of Utah.”

Juan Carlos Claudio singlehandedly developed the Panama Dance & Cultural Exchange Program in the Modern Dance Department taking students to Panama to teach dance in a variety of venues there, from orphanages to the National BalletCompany. The focus of the program is to teach dance to underserved populations in Panama and to provide a cultural immersion experience for U students. The program has brought national recognition to the department and the U via articles in publications such as Dance Magazine.

Juan Carlos has played an integral supportive role in the Department’s Berlin State Ballet School exchange in which each fall on a bi-annual basis, students and faculty from Berlin visit the U, and in the spring students and faculty travel to teach, take classes, perform and interact with students and faculty in Berlin.

Juan Carlos brings important cultural awareness to U students at large through his popular non-majors course, Dance and Culture, and he teaches an Afro-Caribbean Rhythms and Dance course which also builds global and cultural awareness.

He has developed a partnership with Beijing Dance Academy, the premiere dance training institution in China. At the Academy, Juan Carlos served as a guest artist and adjudicator of an international ballet competition in2013 and due to his time in China his department has seen an increase in the number of MFA students from China. He has also served as a guest instructor in Russia and in Zimbabwe. Additionally, Juan Carlos regularly returns to his native Puerto Rico to teach and recruit students to the department.

Juan Carlos is also locally engaged with cultural and dance organizations and has recently been featured in the Salt Lake Tribune for training students to provide dance therapy to people living with Parkinson’s.For this and other community engagement as well as his teaching, Juan Carlos has received recognition through several awards at the U and also in the community.

In summary, his nominator writes that “It is an honor to work with such an evolved, mature, culturally sensitive and globally aware human being.”