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Buffalo State Receives Simon Spotlight Award for IPDS Consortium

Buffalo State Receives Simon Spotlight Award for IPDS Consortium

Posted: March 13, 2019

NAFSA: Association of International Educators has selected Buffalo State as one of three institutions in the country to receive the 2019 Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award. Named after the late Illinois senator, an advocate for international education and cross-cultural learning, the award recognizes a specific international program or initiative that contributes to internationalization on campus. 

Buffalo State was recognized for its International Professional Development Schools (IPDS) Consortium. It provides undergraduate and graduate teacher candidates with short-term, service-learning study opportunities in such countries as Zambia, Chile, and the Dominican Republic.

“The Simon Spotlight Award exemplifies the best of Buffalo State. As an urban-engaged college we encourage our students to think globally,” said Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner.

“Having the opportunity to teach children in less developed countries provides a life-changing experience for our teacher candidates.”

Begun in 2012, the college’s IPDS has blossomed into a unique learning opportunity that intersects two of Buffalo State’s strongest assets—its renowned School of Education and its forward-thinking Global Engagement Office. Participants are placed in an international school where they engage in immersive teaching and learning initiatives, including creating and delivering lessons and developing creative works of literature.

“These travel experiences prepare our education students for careers teaching diverse and second-language learners,” said Robert Summers, assistant provost for global engagement, who nominated Buffalo State for the award. “Teacher education programs notoriously are hard to internationalize because of regulations regarding state licensure. But they are so worthwhile.

“The education system in Chile is very different from that in Western New York. However, our teacher candidates are dealing with many of the same language issues there that we have in Buffalo.”

One benefit of IPDS is that it is more affordable and accessible than some of the traditional study-abroad programs.

“We work hard to make our programs affordable and relevant,” Summers said.

He points to an exit survey from participants in the program.

“They report that their international knowledge and overall global competencies have increased, bolstering confidence in their overall abilities to support diversity and inclusion in their classrooms.”    

Summers said one past participant went onto to teach in Honduras; another received a Fulbright Scholarship.

Along with Summers, members of the nominating committee for the award were Pixita del Prado Hill, professor of elementary education and reading; Nancy Chicola, associate professor emeritus of elementary education and reading; Tamara Horstman-Riphahn, executive assistant to the dean of the School of Education; and Michael Lovorn, director of International Graduate Programs for Educators.

The other institutions that received the Spotlight Award were Virginia Tech and the University of Evansville in Indiana. In addition, Brown University, Dickinson College, Kirkwood Community College, Miami University, and West Virginia University received the Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization. Representatives from all the winning institutions will attend an awards ceremony in May in Washington, D.C.

In addition, institutions selected for the Simon Awards will be featured in NAFSA’s fall 2019 report, Internationalizing the Campus: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities. They also will be honored at an event in Washington, D.C., during International Education Week in November. To learn more about NAFSA’s Senator Paul Simon Awards, visit

With more than 10,000 members, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education.

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