Student, staff and faculty member awarded for international engagement

By Katie Pohlman


The three awardees were chosen from a pool of 20 nominees.

An associate professor, senior information specialist and doctoral candidate received the International Engagement Award on Friday.

The International Center gives the award hoping to encourage more international involvement within the MU community, said Elizabeth Miller, international communications coordinator for the Office of the Vice Provost of International Programs.

“We give out these awards to cultivate a sense of global citizenship here at MU,” Miller said.

Jere Gilles, associate professor of rural sociology and the scholar awardee for this year, received the award for his leadership in research projects in Latin America, Africa and Asia, according to a news release from the Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs. Gilles has also dedicated his life to learning French and Spanish to allow him to live in regions of the world that speak those languages.

Senior Information Specialist Michael Burden, the staff awardee, is currently developing multimedia content for the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources that will help promote research and teaching. At MU, Burden has served as the Peace Corps recruiter and co-taught a School of Journalism course about cultural intelligence. Burden also put together the Third Goal International Film Festival that was held in early February.

John Criswell, a doctoral candidate in education leadership and policy analysis, was the student awardee this year. Criswell traveled the world as a member of the Navy before attending MU and pursuing a study of higher education. While at MU, he has also studied with many international students and researches the international dimension on campus, according to the news release.

Miller said the office posted an open call for nominees for the award in February. Miller said there were 20 nominees — students, faculty and staff — entered in the contest.

“The pool of nominees was very exceptional this year,” she said. “It was very challenging for the committee to select the three awardees.”

Once the awardees were selected, the office hosted an award ceremony to honor all the nominees and winners. Jill Findeis, director for the Division of Applied Social Sciences was the keynote speaker and Vice Provost Handy Williamson was the master of ceremonies.

Findeis gave a speech about her work around the world and how it has influenced her current work.

After the speech, all 20 nominees were called up to the stage individually and received certificates in recognition of their international work. The three awardees were then recognized and given plaques with their names as a reward. Williamson read excerpts from their reference letters to talk about their international experience as well.

When all the nominees and awardees were recognized, there was a reception for all of those who attended the ceremony.

Miller said the award is special because it recognizes all types of people in the MU community for their work within the classroom and out of it.

“It is the only award where we recognize student, staff and faculty,” she said. “It awards their work in extracurricular activities on campus and events abroad.”

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