President Mary Sue Coleman is the recipient of the 2014 Cassandra Pyle Award that honors her lifelong impact on international education.
Coleman, who retires in July after serving 12 years as U-M’s president, received the award from NAFSA: Association of International Educators, one of the world’s largest organizations promoting global education and exchange.
Under Coleman’s leadership, U-M doubled the number of undergraduate students who studied abroad and increased participation among underrepresented fields of study, such as engineering, fine arts and the health sciences.
“International education is important, sustaining work,” Coleman said in her acceptance speech. “It delivers powerful rewards. I can’t think of more important work than joining hands with other universities to transform lives with the power and promise of global knowledge.”
Coleman has focused on particular areas of the world where opportunities for student learning and innovative research were ripe for expansion. These locations included several African nations, Brazil, China and India.
“Scholarship knows no borders. By our very nature, universities are at the forefront of globalization and cooperation,” Coleman said. “To be truly engaged at the global level, we must connect one on one and build genuine, reciprocal partnerships.”
Coleman empowered the faculty to launch new collaborations across Africa with more than $3 million in seed funds. The direct results of this focus include the creation of the U-M African Studies Center, African Heritage Initiative, African Social Research Initiative, STEM-Africa program and the U-M African Presidential Scholars Program.
She championed a broad portfolio of China initiatives, including the Joint Institute for Engineering Education with Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Due to Coleman’s dedication to the program, nearly 300 U-M students have studied in Shanghai and more than 500 Chinese students from the Joint Institute have transferred to U-M through its dual-degree programs.
Her trip to Brazil in 2012 created a multidisciplinary partnership with the University of Sao Paulo, with support for Brazilian medical students to complete rotations in the U-M Medical System.
Last year, the president and her husband, Kenneth M. Coleman, personally donated $1 million for scholarships for U-M students to support international study, internships and service work.
Cassandra Pyle was a leader in the field of international education and exchange for more than 25 years, serving in positions at the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, American Council on Education, Institute of International Education and the University of Chicago. She served as president of NAFSA in 1978-79.
Based in Washington, D.C., NAFSA was founded in 1948 as the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers to promote the professional development of U.S. college and university officials responsible for advising and assisting international students in the U.S.
The group changed its name in 1990 to NAFSA: Association of International Educators to better reflect its expanding involvement in study abroad, scholarly exchange programs and many other areas. The acronym was retained to reflect NAFSA’s proud past and broad name recognition.