Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Field Recipients


The NAFSA International Education Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Field recognizes those who have displayed imaginative activity, outstanding personal enterprise, and creative contributions to the field through research, writing, or program development.

2018 Award Recipient

Joan Solaún is the director of programs in Latin America and the Caribbean for Academic Programs International (API) in Austin, Texas. She served as director of study abroad at the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign for 23 years. Upon retirement from Illinois, Solaún developed and directed the programs in Latin America and Spain at the Institute for Study Abroad at Butler University. Solaún began sending students from Illinois to Cuba in 1999 and was instrumental in developing the successful API program in Cuba. A native of Philadelphia, Solaún has lived, studied, and worked in Havana, Bogotá, Paris, and Managua. She has a PhD in Spanish (Latin American literature) from the University of Illinois and a BA in Latin American studies from the University of Pennsylvania. She is also a co-founder of the Instituto San Joaquin de Flores in Costa Rica.

“I am extremely fortunate to be able to continue my work as Director of Caribbean and Latin American Programs with Academic Programs International. It is an organization that is in keeping with all my dreams and goals for the wonderful field of study abroad. Thank you API,” states Joan Solaún.

Previous Recipients

  • Gayle Woodruff, University of Minnesota
  • Philip G. Altbach, Boston College
  • Ellen Badger, Binghamton University
  • Joan Rosalie Dassin, Ford Foundation International Fellowships Fund
  • Rosemarie Arens, U.S. State Department in Lima, Peru
  • Bruce Sillner, SUNY-New Paltz
  • Ellen Mashiko, Japan-United States Education Commission
  • Marty Etchison Babcock, University of North Carolina
  • Rebecca Zeigler Mano, US Embassy – Harare, Zimbabwe
  • Gary Althen, University of Iowa
  • Janet M. and Milton J. Bennett, Intercultural Communication Institute
  • Edward S. Blankenship, California State University-Long Beach
  • Alice Chandler, SUNY College-New Paltz
  • Todd M. Davis, Institute of International Education
  • Hans de Wit, University of Amsterdam
  • Stephen Dunnett, SUNY at Buffalo
  • Rene Greenwald, IIE-Mexico
  • G. James Haas, Indiana University/Purdue University
  • Linda Heaney, Linden Educational Services
  • Ann Helm, City University of New York-Staten Island
  • Axel Market, University of Tuebingen
  • Ivy McQuiddy, University of Texas-Austin
  • Josef Mestenhauser, University of Minnesota
  • Terry O'Donnell, Commission on English Language Program Accreditation
  • Jody Olsen, Peace Corps
  • Mary E. Peterson, NAFSA
  • Norman Peterson, Georgetown University
  • Cassandra Pyle, CIES
  • Kay Thomas, University of Minnesota-Minneapolis
  • Kevin Scheiffer, Experiment in International Living
  • Gene Smith, University of Colorado-Boulder
  • Ralph Smuckler, Michigan State University
  • Caroline Atsuko Matano Yang, U.S.-Japan Educational Commission

NAFSA Awards

NAFSA honors excellence in international education.

Explore NAFSA's national awards.