Smith named recipient of 2018 Kopp International Achievement Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Rachel Smith, associate head and professor of communication arts and sciences in the College of the Liberal Arts, is the recipient of the 2018 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.

Colleagues said Smith is deeply committed to enacting and promoting international engagement, efforts that show through her research, collaborative activities and international connections. Her efforts include:

● creating innovative classrooms, including undergraduate classes, graduate seminars, which invite interactions among domestic and international students at University Park campus, and embedded study abroad to promote international connections and reach to international constituencies;

● using her expertise in social influence in efforts to reduce HIV infection and improve care for people living with HIV in Namibia, to combat malaria in Cote d’Ivoire and to address food security in Mozambique; and

● contributing as part of the administrative core to the University of Cape Town and Penn State Partnership fostering education and collaboration focused on climate change and health issues.

“Dr. Smith is deeply committed to enacting and promoting international engagement,” a colleague said. “Her efforts can be seen in the focus and scope of her research, the breadth and depth of her collaborative activities, and in the many ways she supports and inspires international connections at University Park. Moreover, she’s shown a passion for improving conditions throughout the global community through internationally funded research, papers on international health concerns, and innovative undergraduate and graduate courses.”

Smith’s efforts to improve learning at Penn State using her international experience include developing classes using a “jigsaw classroom format,” where she pairs two disparate groups together for a common goal. One such class includes an intercultural communications class. She developed a novel learning environment by linking her students with those from the Intensive English Communication Program (IECP) at Penn State. Students in the intercultural class completed assignments that required insights from the IECP students to improve their intercultural communication skills, and IECP students used insights from her students on American English and local culture to complete their assignments.

“In Dr. Smith’s pedagogy we see her trademark reliance on well-researched theory and practice, her willingness to go the extra mile, and her effectiveness in advancing the international mission of the University,” a colleague said.


Last Updated April 02, 2018