Global Achievement Awards honor staff, department at South Dakota State University


BROOKINGS — South Dakota State University’s Office of International Affairs honored 11 individuals and the Department of Animal Science at South Dakota State University’s second annual Global Achievement Awards.

The Office of International Affairs, as part of its month-long celebration of International Education Month, recognized faculty, staff and students who have made significant contributions to the university’s internationalization efforts.

In addition to naming the Department of Animal Science as Academic Unit of the Year, those honored at SDSU Alumni Association’s Woster Celebration Hall Feb. 27 included:

• José Álvarez, associate professor in the School of American and Global Studies

• Stephanie Bebensee, academic adviser in the College of Nursing

• Michael Gonda, professor in the Department of Animal Science

• Tracy Greene, vice president and general counsel

• Tonya Hohenthaner, human resources generalist

• Rajesh Kavasseri, associate dean for research in the Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering

• Michelle Kuebler, assistant director of admissions

• Ashley McConnell, adviser, coordinator and instructor in the Department of Biology and Microbiology

• Kay Trooien, student specialist in Records and Registration

• Mark Venhuizen, assistant director of event services at the University Student Union

• Greg Wasberg, assistant director at the Miller Wellness Center

“We are working to integrate the university and our community into as many conversations, initiatives and opportunities with a potential global connection as possible. We’re proud of our university, and we want others to know how much we can contribute to global conversations related to teaching, learning and scholarship,” said Jon Stauff, assistant vice president for international affairs.

Part of what makes SDSU premier is its international engagement, he added.

“Our faculty are globally renowned for their teaching and scholarly activities, and we work together with partner institutions to deliver education abroad opportunities to our students. Our graduate students have been encouraged by faculty mentors to participate in international projects that prepare them for careers with a global impact. We are also growing the number of partnerships with international higher education institutions to create stable sources of enrollment to address future demographic challenges. We value our community’s efforts in these areas and know we will achieve short- and long-term successes to sustain SDSU’s efforts as a premier university,” Stauff said.

Achievements noted for each of the honorees included:

• Álvarez was recognized for his contributions to Education Abroad programming in Spain, Central America and South America, his support for study abroad students across the curriculum, and his contributions to School of American and Global Studies programming at home to bring awareness to the challenges new Americans face as they acclimate to life in the U.S.

• Bebensee was recognized for her leadership and support for nursing students in accessing Education Abroad programming through the new study abroad center in Carlow, Ireland, as well as Jacks Start Abroad programming in Ireland. Included in this work has been curriculum development for the Carlow study center.

• Gonda was recognized for his many contributions to Education Abroad programming, particularly his leadership of faculty-led programs in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe. He is also an enthusiastic advocate for international students in his department.

• Greene was recognized for her many contributions to the development of international partnerships and best practices in leading international programs through her work on legal agreements and her support of human resources on campus.

• Hohenthaner was recognized for her contributions to the hiring of faculty from outside the United States, her collaboration with academic units in landing international candidates for positions, and her commitment to a successful onboarding of these new employees.

• Kavasseri was recognized for his vision and passion in developing research collaborations and enrollment pipelines for the college in various parts of the world, particularly in Turkey and India. He has successfully engaged faculty in the pursuit of global initiatives that will advance their careers as well as the global footprint of Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering.

• Kuebler was recognized for her many contributions in ensuring that the application process for international students runs smoothly and that staff members receive appropriate training to process applications and bring students into the country.

• McConnell was recognized for her leadership and contributions to Education Abroad programming, particularly her leadership of faculty-led programs to Ghana and Scandinavia and her upcoming Jacks Start Abroad program comparing health care delivery systems for the indigenous in South Dakota and New Zealand.

• Trooien was recognized for her many contributions to international students, ensuring they have appropriate course registrations and accommodating the ESL program’s various rooming needs in the most efficient manner possible.

• Venhuizen was recognized for his collaboration with various international student organizations as they put together their various cultural evenings in the Volstorff Ballroom over the course of many years, all the while maintaining good cheer and a positive spirit.

• Wasberg was recognized for his support for the mental well-being of international students and study abroad students, including excellent responses to critical incidents and workshops aimed at drawing students into the wellness center to get the support they need.

• The Department of Animal Science has supported multiple faculty-led programs per year for many years and connects faculty and graduate students to international exchange and research collaborations on a regular basis.