UNCW Receives Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for First-Year International Education Collaboration with Bangor University in Wales

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The University of North Carolina Wilmington is one of three recipients of NAFSA’s prestigious 2021 Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for Internationalization. UNCW was recognized for its “FYSA in the UK” program, designed especially for freshmen who are admitted in the spring semester.
“With the Senator Simon Spotlight Award, UNCW’s innovative faculty and staff have earned national recognition for the university’s commitment to offering globally focused programs that make international learning experiences more accessible for our students,” said Chancellor Jose V. Sartarelli. “Many of the students who participate in our collaboration with Bangor University in Wales are first-generation college students, and this program introduces them to a whole new world of opportunities.”
The UNCW Office of International Programs collaborates with Bangor University in the United Kingdom to create an opportunity for these students to spend the fall semester studying in Wales before returning to Wilmington for the spring semester.
“The Office of International Programs is extremely honored to be recognized by NAFSA for providing an innovative, semester-long experience abroad to students beginning their freshman year,” said Associate Vice Chancellor for International Programs Michael Wilhelm. “We are thankful to all of the offices on the UNCW campus that are engaged in making this program a success each fall, and deeply appreciative of our counterparts at Bangor University for their commitment to the academic and developmental support of the UNCW student cohort.”
NAFSA: Association of International Educators, recognizes outstanding innovation and accomplishment in two categories: the Spotlight Award, which recognizes individual programs, and Comprehensive Internationalization, for overall excellence integrating international education throughout the campus. The awards were named after the late Sen. Paul Simon (D-Illinois).
In addition to UNCW, the other recipients of the Spotlight Award are Indiana University for “Global Gateway for Teachers” and Miami Dade College for “Education Tomorrow Abroad.”
The universities honored with the “Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization” are:
  • Davidson-Davie Community College – Thomasville, North Carolina
  • Florida International University – Miami, Florida
  • Lehigh University – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
  • Santa Fe College – Gainesville, Florida
  • The University of Texas at Austin – Austin, Texas

“At NAFSA we believe that international education lies at the core of an interconnected world characterized by diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice and well-being for all,” said Esther D. Brimmer, NAFSA Executive Director and CEO. “We are thrilled to honor the achievements of these eight institutions who have demonstrated their commitment to internationalization and providing rich global learning experiences for diverse populations of students and their communities.”
A strong advocate for international education and cross-cultural learning, the late Senator Paul Simon is also the namesake of the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Program Act. Introduced in nearly every Congress since 2006 with bipartisan support, the Simon bill aims to incentivize U.S. higher education institutions through competitive grants to increase the number and diversity of students who complete a study abroad experience prior to graduation and make study abroad an integral part of higher education.
Institutions selected for the Simon Awards will be featured in NAFSA's report, Internationalizing the Campus: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities, to be published this fall, and honored during International Education Week in November. To learn more about NAFSA’s Senator Paul Simon Awards, visit

-- Tricia Vance