Howard, McLaughlin named recipients of Kopp International Achievement Award

April 09, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Donna Howard, assistant director of campus life and intercultural affairs at Penn State Harrisburg, and Jacqueline McLaughlin, associate professor of biology at Penn State Lehigh Valley are the recipients of the 2015 W. LaMarr Kopp International Achievement Award.

Howard, who has been overseeing the offices of student activities and intercultural affairs since 2005, said her job is to “engage students and others to move out of their comfort zone” and into an arena that allows them to “stretch their perspectives and broaden their attitudes towards others who are different from themselves.” Programs she’s instituted have expanded the minds of students and eased the transition for the campus’ growing international student community.

To combat barriers such as language, transportation and bias that international students face, Howard started Global Ambassadors, a program that engages faculty and staff to understand issues international students face. Her Global Lion Mentor program, now in its second year, has about 50 national and international mentors who reach out to new international students, answer questions about college life and build relationships. In surveys, students reported that the program provided a personal link to their peers and provided a sense of community. Howard also advocated for funding for shuttle services to international grocery stores, retailers, airports and places of religious worship.

A nominator, noting that the campus’ international student enrollment has grown from about 70 to 460 students in the past 15 years, said Howard continues to provide a fostering environment with limited resources. “With the scaled-up effort, the personal touch was not lost,” the nominator said. “Students have been fortunate to have her waking up each day and worrying about their development and success.”

McLaughlin’s quest is to improve the quality of education for current and future students and educators by developing and offering alternatives to conventional biology teaching methods. She has spent her academic career building and assessing new and effective classroom and laboratory environments, online learning tools and international field courses, said a nominator.

McLaughlin develops and leads embedded field courses to places including Alaska, Australia, China Galapagos Islands, Tanzania and Yellowstone National Park in Montana using her “Field Course Experiential Learning Model,” which she based on proven pedagogical practices.

McLaughlin also is director of Connecting Humans and Nature through Conservation Experiences (CHANCE), an award-winning environmental education and professional development outreach program created at Penn State Lehigh Valley. Through the program, McLaughlin and her students have studied and sought solutions for some of the most troubling environmental issues confronting the world today. They’ve worked on water pollution in China, coral bleaching in Panama, the loss of biodiversity in Costa Rica’s tropical rainforests and deciduous forests of Pennsylvania.

“It is through her leadership that CHANCE develops courses at all collegiate levels, builds programs which empower future problem-solvers of the world, secures funding, partners with others and shares and exchanges its good work through publications, presentations and outreach efforts,” said a nominator.

Established in 1995, the W. LaMarr Kopp International Achievement 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.

Last Updated April 09, 2015