Cheryl Matherly Receives IIE's Senior International Officer of the Year Award

Matherly, who serves vice president and vice provost of Lehigh’s Office of International Affairs, was virtually presented with the award on June 11.

Cheryl Matherly, vice president and vice provost of Lehigh’s Office of International Affairs, has been honored as the 2020 recipient of the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) Senior International Officer of the Year award.

Photo of Cheryl Matherly with IIE's Senior International Officer of the Year

Cheryl Matherly, vice president and vice provost of Lehigh’s Office of International Affairs, with the Institute of International Education’s Senior International Officer of the Year award.

The award was virtually presented June 11 to Matherly by Allen Goodman, IIE’s president and CEO. Created in 2019, the award is annually presented by the IIE to a senior international officer who has demonstrated remarkable and sustained leadership in international education and has been instrumental in infusing international education into the core mission of the university.

Lehigh President John Simon spoke during the ceremony about Matherly’s accomplishments. He noted Lehigh has become a much more global institution since Matherly began began her tenure in the Office of International Affairs in 2016.

“This is due to your vision, your dedication and your leadership,” Simon said.

Matherly’s history of innovation and collaboration, her leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and her consistent excellence across multiple institutions made her an ideal candidate for 2020’s SIO of the Year award. Since coming to Lehigh, she has overseen study abroad programs, international internships, English language programs, international student services, Fulbright scholarship programs, the Iacocca Institute and Lehigh’s United Nations partnership programs.

In cooperation with the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity, Matherly also helped create the Passport to Success Program, a mentorship initiative that aims to help first-generation and low-income students pursue academic opportunities beyond Bethlehem. Matherly also helped to develop Lehigh Launch, a new program that allows first-year students to begin their college experience abroad.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Matherly quickly reevaluated Lehigh’s international efforts in order to ensure that students' physical and mental health needs were met. Lehigh instituted a re-entry course over Zoom to help students who were sent home from their semester abroad better cope with the situation. She also helped to create social media networks for international students still on Lehigh’s campus and established virtual international internship opportunities. Additionally, Matherly created and organized a Lehigh-in-Residence program that will allow international students unable to return to campus for the Fall 2020 semester to enroll at 25-plus partner institutions across the globe.

“Solutions to global challenges require global collaboration,” Matherly said.

Susan Buck Sutton, chair of the SIO of the Year selection committee, said that the decision to honor Matherly this year was unanimous due to her exceptional leadership and impact on the field of international education.

“Cheryl certainly deserves SIO of the Yearmaybe even SIO of the Century,” Sutton said.

Before joining Lehigh, Matherly served as the assistant dean of students for career and international education at Rice University, starting in 2001. At Rice, Matherly designed and directed INNOVATE, a consortium of twelve universities in seven countries collaborating on global learning in engineering. In 2007, she was named vice provost for international education at the University of Tulsa, where she developed the university's strategic plan for internationalization.

By Isabel Portnoi '21

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We seek to educate graduates who are prepared to analyze complex global challenges, to collaborate respectfully and effectively with people from diverse backgrounds, and to take responsible local action after due consideration of contemporary global contexts.