Kent State Wins Award for Excellence in Integrating International Education Throughout University

Kent State University is the sole university in the U.S. to receive the prestigious 2022 Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization from NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The honor recognizes Kent State for overall excellence in integrating international education throughout all facets of the university and its campuses. 

Named after the late Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois, the NAFSA Simon Awards recognize outstanding innovation and accomplishment in campus internationalization, defined by NAFSA as “a conscious effort to integrate and infuse international, intercultural and global dimensions into the ethos and outcomes of their students’ education.” 

“The Senator Paul Simon Award is our nation’s top prize for excellence in global education,” Kent State President Todd Diacon said. “It is a richly deserved award that highlights our excellent education-abroad programs and our ongoing success in enrolling and graduating international students.”

Kent State’s global reach has been expansive, with educational centers in Florence, Italy, and Curitiba, Brazil, along with boasting more than 200 education-abroad programs. Along with globe-spanning international partnerships, it has outreach centers in China and India.

Kent State’s long history of international collaboration includes being among the first to exchange students with the Soviet Union during the Cold War and hosting Iranian students prior to Iran’s revolution in 1978-1979. Hosting international students and scholars has always been a priority for Kent State as demonstrated by its continued standing among the top 100 destinations for international students, according to Open Doors, a comprehensive information resource on international students and scholars studying or teaching at higher education institutions in the United States, and U.S. students studying abroad for academic credit at their home colleges or universities. 

“The Senator Paul Simon Award recognizes the internationalization efforts of our university and showcases how important it is for the development of students to have international experiences,” said Melody Tankersley, Ph.D., Kent State’s senior vice president and provost. “The award also recognizes the diversity of our university and brings global recognition to Kent State. 

“I would like to thank Vice President for Global Education Marcello Fantoni for his visionary leadership to help us get to where we are – to the point where we could win this impressive award,” Tankersley continued.

Kent State’s commitment to internationalization is embedded in its mission and strategic plan and is entrenched in the university’s identity through competitive research, comprehensive education-abroad programs, international curriculum and robust international student and scholar programs.

“At Kent State University, we are committed to granting access to students from all around the world and to make the whole world available for our students,” said Marcello Fantoni, Ph.D., Kent State’s vice president for global education. “We want to graduate students ready for the global world as active participants in a democratic society.”

Kent State’s student body includes 1,370 international students from nearly 100 countries. In 2019-2020, Kent State sent nearly 1,500 students abroad. Since resuming its international programming in July 2021, Kent State has returned to its full operations abroad and is already projected to surpass its previous record-setting enrollment in education-abroad programs by fall 2022.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the annual awards program. Serving more than 10,000 members and international educators worldwide, NAFSA is the largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange. Kent State will be featured in NAFSA’s report, “Internationalizing the Campus: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities,” that will be published this fall. The university also will be honored during the virtual and in-person programming as part of NAFSA’s 2022 Annual Conference and Expo this spring. To learn more about NAFSA’s Senator Paul Simon Awards, visit

For more information about Kent State’s Office of Global Education, visit

# # #

Media Contact:
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Tuesday, February 22, 2022 02:44 PM
UPDATED: Thursday, July 25, 2024 04:11 PM
Emily Vincent