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UGA faculty and staff receive awards from the Office of International Education

UGA faculty and staff receive awards from the Office of International Education

Thursday, April 6, 2017 

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Office of International Education honored several UGA faculty and community members at its annual International Education Awards Reception, held April 4 at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education and Hotel in Athens. The awards recognize those who have made outstanding contributions to the university's internationalization and advanced international education through instruction, research, and service.

The 2017 honorees and their awards are:

A team comprised of three UGA faculty and staff was awarded the Richard F. Reiff Internationalization Award, which honors a tenured or tenure-track faculty member who has made major contributions to the overall internationalization of the University of Georgia. Miguel L. Cabrera, George Vellidis and Victoria C. McMaken worked together to establish the first dual-degree program in sustainable agriculture between UGA and the University of Padova in Italy. Cabrera and Vellidis are both professors in the department of crop and soil sciences, and McMaken is associate director of global programs for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

This dual-master’s-degree program provides students with training to tackle the unique challenges of 21st century global agriculture, and the focus on a research-abroad component will provide students with global competency and experiences they could not gain otherwise. Visit Vellidis' faculty page for more information about the dual degree program.

Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor William Finlay received OIE’s Study Abroad Award, which honors faculty or staff members who have made significant contributions to the University’s study abroad efforts. Finlay teaches in the sociology department of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. He founded what is now the School of Public and International Affairs’ study abroad program in Verona, Italy (held as Verona Spring and Verona Maymester), and founded and co-directs UGA’s Stellenbosch study abroad program in South Africa. He has taught on both programs for years, was among the first to incorporate service-learning in his programs, and also helped establish an ongoing year-long student exchange program between UGA and Stellenbosch University.

Scott and Kelly Horn received the Mary Ann Kelly Open Arms Award, which honors one or more people in the UGA community who have gone above and beyond their formal duties in facilitating the presence of international students and/or scholars at UGA. The Horns provided physical and emotional assistance for Yanzhou Zhang, an international faculty member, after she was severely injured in a traffic accident while performing field work.

Zhang’s husband was out of the country when the accident occurred and the Horns provided the airline ticket that brought him to Athens to help care for Zhang while she was in the hospital. Kelly Horn took leave from work to help Zhang understand the medical procedures and paperwork related to her injuries, and the Horns provided Zhang’s family with a hotel room close to the hospital. The Horns also rallied the UGA community to assist Zhang’s family with their medical expenses, with Zhang’s story appearing in several local media outlets. Zhang continues to recover from her injuries.

Three additional awards were presented to those in the UGA community making major contributions to the programs housed in UGA’s international residential centers: UGA Costa Rica presented its Costa Rica Adelante Award to Scott Connelly, assistant professor in the Odum School of Ecology; UGA at Oxford presented its Friends of UGA at Oxford Award to Jessica Hunt, assistant director and major scholarships coordinator for the UGA Honors Program; and UGA Cortona, Italy, presented its Dedicato a Cortona Award to Melissa Harshman, professor and area chair of printmaking and book arts in the Lamar Dodd School of Art in the Franklin College.

Connelly began teaching ecology at UGA Costa Rica in 2008 and served as the faculty director of ecology programs at the campus from 2009-13. He has also conducted research at the campus and presented at several Costa Rican scientific conferences.

Hunt has worked within her role in UGA's Honors Program by guiding students to a number of opportunities offered by UGA at Oxford and taking the lead on the Foundation Fellows Maymester program since its inception in 2008. In addition, she recently has been working hard to assist in the development of programming focused on undergraduate research and internships abroad. This new endeavor will enhance student experiences and raise the profile of UGA both domestically and in the U.K.

Harshman has demonstrated a significant commitment both at home and abroad to the programs at UGA’s Cortona residential center as well as the city of Cortona, Italy. On her many occasions teaching in Italy, Harshman has been engaged in efforts to connect UGA students to Cortona’s inhabitants. Her involvement with the “CortonArt” project, for example, brings students with their art materials and equipment to the streets of Cortona. They demonstrate art techniques, engaging citizens as subjects and collaborators to generate a completed work of art. Harshman’s efforts to create the opportunity for cultural exchange through art has enhanced the student’s studies abroad experience with UGA Cortona.

About the Office of International Education
The Office of International Education supports the University of Georgia’s academic, research and outreach missions and strategic directions through the promotion of global learning experiences for students, the sponsorship and support of international students, scholars, faculty and staff, and the development of international research and instructional partnerships and collaborations. For more information, visit


Writer: Sue Myers Smith, 706-542-4208, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact: Noel Fallows, 706-542-2202, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note to editors: A photo of the award winners group is available here:

Cutline: The 2017 International Education Award winners pictured are: (L to R) Scott Horn and Kelly Horn, Open Arms Award winners; Scott Connelly, UGA Costa Rica Adelante Award winner; Nikki Vellidis, who accepted her father’s Reiff Internationalization Award; Jessica Hunt, Friends of UGA at Oxford Award winner; Associate Provost for International Education Noel Fallows; Victoria McMaken, Reiff Internationalization Award winner; and William Finlay, Study Abroad Award winner.