Lehigh Recognized for Innovation in International Education by IIE

Iacocca International Internship Program honored for combining global learning and professional experience.

Alumni Memorial Building

Lehigh University's Iacocca International Internship Program was honored for combining global learning and professional experience.

Lehigh’s Iacocca International Internship Program has received the 2019 Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education from the Institute for International Education (IIE) for student mobility.

The annual award recognizes the most innovative and impactful models for internationalization of campuses, study abroad, and international partnership programs. IIE recognizes initiatives that remove institutional barriers and broaden the base of participation in international teaching and learning on campus. IIE is a not-for-profit with 18 offices and affiliates worldwide that focuses on international student exchange and foreign affairs. IIE collaborates with a range of corporate, government and foundation partners across the globe to design and manage scholarship, study abroad, workforce training and leadership development programs.

IIE honored Lehigh University’s Iacocca International Internship Program as a leader in student mobility for giving students a competitive advantage in the job market by providing professional experiential learning in the global marketplace.

“To thrive in the global economy, students need access to international experiences during their college career” said Clare Overmann, head of IIE’s Higher Education Initiatives.  “We congratulate this year’s Heiskell Award winners for their outstanding success in providing new and innovative international education opportunities to their students.”

The Iacocca International Internship Program (IIIP) sends students to live and work overseas for six to 12 weeks in the summer, where they gain professional experience while learning to navigate a different culture. It began in 2011 with a principal gift from Lee Iacocca ’45 on the belief that working abroad is a significant intercultural learning experience and gives students a competitive advantage in the global workforce.

“As part of Lehigh’s long-standing commitment to experiential learning, IIIP is one of the university’s signature international programs,” says Cheryl Matherly, vice president and vice provost for internationalization. “We know that real-world opportunities for students to apply knowledge, like those provided through this program, help deepen their learning and prepare them to engage with the world after graduation.”

The internships are fully funded, and the program prioritizes students who have high financial need or have never been abroad before, helping make international experiences accessible to all students. The program has grown rapidly—to date, 486 students have worked in 46 countries.

“This program has flourished under the direction of Carol Ham,” says Matherly. “She has built the program from the start and now serves as a leader in the field of international internships.”

“My sister, Kate Hentz, and I are delighted with this news of the Iacocca Internship Program being honored in this way,” says Lia Iacocca Assad, daughter of Lee Iacocca and a member of the Lehigh University Board of Trustees. “Our father had a vision to provide Lehigh students with a work abroad, world class experience that would prepare them for a career in an increasingly global and complex world. Being globally and culturally competent is essential for a successful career and we could not be more proud of how our father's vision became a reality through this program at Lehigh University.”

In 2019, 83 students will live and work in 32 countries, where they will develop intercultural and professional competencies to enhance their career readiness.

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