Brennan, Reese named recipients of Kopp International Achievement Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Mark Brennan, professor of leadership and community development in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and Jane Reese, assistant coordinator of the Penn State Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, are recipients of the 2014 W. LaMarr Kopp International Achievement Award.

Established in 1995, the award recognizes faculty and staff members who have contributed significantly to the advancement of the international mission of the University. It is named for the late deputy vice president for international programs.

A faculty member since 2009, Brennan has developed seven graduate and undergraduate courses with an international focus and is extensively involved with the international agriculture and development dual degree graduate program and the international agriculture undergraduate minor. He facilitated the development of agreements with Nong Lam University in Vietnam and the National University of Ireland to support student/faculty exchanges and collaborative research.

In 2013, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization selected Brennan as the first UNESCO Chair in Rural Community Leadership and Youth Development at Penn State, one of 17 such positions in the United States and the only one in a college of agriculture or Big Ten university. As part of his new role, he has established the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Youth and Community, encompassing six continents and 75 universities.

One nominator said, “In a short span of 11 years since his doctorate, Dr. Brennan has made a remarkable contribution to the international community, to the profession and the discipline through research, teaching and extension positions he has occupied at Penn State University and the University of Florida.”

Brennan holds a master’s and a doctoral degree from Penn State and a bachelor’s degree from Salisbury University, Maryland. His research focuses on international comparative exploration of the role of community in shaping local action, leadership capacities, development and social change.

Reese’s work with Penn State’s international community began in 1994 as a wage-payroll employee in the Office of International Programs, where she helped prepare immigration documents for international students. From 1996 to 2004, she was a program assistant in the Intensive English Communication Program.

Since 2004, she has served as assistant coordinator of the university’s Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program. She is a liaison among the scholars, the university, professional resources and the Institute of International Education in Washington, D.C. She assists scholars in developing individually tailored 10-month programs of academic and professional experiences.

Nominators lauded Reese’s efforts to go “above and beyond” her assigned duties to assist international scholars. She has housed scholars temporarily at her own home, invited students to meals and sled rides, assisted with schooling issues of family members, and provided advice on topics from weddings to health care. “Jane’s intelligence and compassion for others has allowed her to develop deep relationships with many international visitors to Penn State,” one nominator said. Another commented, “From baking them banana bread and cookies to taking them shopping to helping them complete paperwork, the priority Jane’s work with international students and scholars has in her life is exceptional.”

Reese often continues to advise international scholars after they have left Penn State. “The longstanding relationships she has with international students that she worked with some 15 years ago continue to thrive today through email, Facebook, telephone and face-to-face exchanges,” a nominator said.

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Last Updated March 20, 2014