Simon Award Profiles: Lone Star College System


The following is an excerpt from the Internationalizing the Campus 2013 report. Lone Star College System is featured in the report along with other institutions that were given the 2013 Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization.

Internationalizing the Faculty

Nithyanantha “Nithy” Sevanthinathan, Chief International Officer

The Lone Star College System, a 2013 winner of NAFSA’s Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Campus Internationalization, committed itself to an international course when it established an International Programs and Services (IPS) office in 2004. Nithyanantha “Nithy” Sevanthinathan, chief international officer, formulated the framework and implementation. In 2008 IPS began awarding $4,000 Faculty International Exploration (FIE) awards to encourage faculty to internationalize the content of their courses and create education abroad programs. Fifty-five faculty have shared $270,000 in awards. The first went to then-band director James Stubbs, who visited jazz festivals in Europe and returned the next summer with students who performed at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and in Italy. “We felt like celebrities,” said Stubbs, now dean of arts and humanities at Lone Star-Kingwood.

Only 41 students studied abroad in 2011–2012, even with the college offering 15 scholarships up to $2,000. “Program cancellations due to low enrollments have been the biggest challenge,” said Malaysian-born Nithy. Six of ten courses offered for summer 2013 were cancelled. Lone Star-North Harris Art Professor Eric Sims has tried unsuccessfully to run an art appreciation program to Spain, but said, “I haven’t given up. Many of these students have never been out of Houston. This is a life-changing experience.”

International Education Conferences

The pride of Lone Star’s international programming is the International Education Conference it has held each spring since 2004 where prominent speakers address global issues and Lone Star’s own professors give workshops on their international explorations. The conference sprang from a Title VI international studies grant that the North Harris campus won in 2002. “Everything international comes from that grant,” said Anne Albarelli, dean of academic affairs at North Harris. She and Theresa McGinley, dean of instruction in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Business and Economics Division, spearheaded that effort and today serve on the conference planning committee and the IPS Council.

Lone Star has spent $60,000 on the conferences over the years. The keynote speaker at the 10th conference in April 2013 was Middle East expert Mark Kimmitt, a retired brigadier general and U.S. State Department official. Lone Star has also piggybacked with the World Affairs Council of Houston to host such figures as Lech Walesa, the former Polish president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. McGinley, whose parents survived World War II in Poland, said she always brought international perspectives to her U.S. history courses. Today more than 70 Lone Star courses carry an international studies designation.

Nithy is the impresario of the conferences. He was an international student once who came to Minnesota to pursue opportunities largely unavailable to Malaysia’s Hindu minority. With Fulbright support, he earned a peace studies degree and two MAs while organizing bicycle treks across the United States, South America, and Africa that schoolchildren followed online. “My dream was to journey the whole world on a bicycle,” said Nithy, whose father was a shipyard laborer.

2013 Simon Award Presidential Panel

Chancellor Richard Carpenter participated in NAFSA's 2013 Simon Award Presidential Panel during International Education Week 2013, and he discussed how internationalization is "as much about our own backyard as it is across the oceans."

Read the full Internationalizing the Campus 2013 report.