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WKU named diversity and inclusion champion in international education


WKU's Mahurin Honors College
The Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky University

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (Feb. 2, 2018) – WKU has taken a leap forward in its diversity and inclusion efforts, receiving a prestigious award from Diversity Abroad. WKU has been named the Diversity & Inclusion Champion in the 2018 Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion in International Education (EDIIE) Awards.

The EDIIE Awards celebrates innovative practices, original research and inclusive excellence with an aim toward preparing diverse and underrepresented students for success through access to global education and cultural exchange opportunities. Institutional categories at the EDIIE Awards include Diversity & Inclusion Champion, Organizational Excellence, Financial Support, International Student Success, Student Support, and Programming.

“The faculty, administration and professional team members at WKU are honored by this award,” said Dr. David Lee, WKU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “This recognition sends a strong message that WKU is succeeding in our goal to provide transformational international opportunities through diversity and inclusion. More importantly, it inspires us to continue diversifying the students we send abroad and increase our efforts to provide life-changing international education experiences for a greater and more diverse number of WKU students.”

WKU’s rich internationalization efforts include the work of the Office of Study Abroad and Global Learning (SAGL), Office of Scholar Development (OSD), Intercultural Student Engagement Center (ISEC) and its chief diversity officer, Dr. Lynne Holland, Office of International Programs (OIP) and the Mahurin Honors College (MHC), in conjunction with WKU Student Financial Assistance. Over the last several years, nearly 40 percent of the average $246,000 in annual funding for study abroad scholarships went to diversifying participation in international education.

Dr. Craig T. Cobane, MHC executive director, held the role of WKU chief international officer from 2012 to 2017. During his time at the helm, policies and procedures were revamped, allowing for more accessible study abroad opportunities to diverse WKU students.

From academic years 2011-12 to 2016-17, WKU experienced growth of over 110 percent in underrepresented minority students participating in study abroad programs. This time period saw a growth of 190 percent in African-American students participating in education abroad.

Additionally, Cobane created the Enhancing Diversity in Global Education (EDGE) grant, which serves a broader range of students than just underrepresented minorities. This grant supports first-generation, non-traditional, LGBTQIA+, Appalachian and disabled students. The EDGE grant has invested nearly $200,000 in more than 80 students to expand diversity and inclusion in education abroad since 2013.

The EDIIE Awards will be presented at the sixth-annual Diversity Abroad Conference on April 10 in Miami, Fla. WKU will be represented by Cobane at the conference.