Lehigh-UN Partnership Recognized with Heiskell Award for International Education

The university has now received the prestigious award in two consecutive years.

Story by

Tim Hyland

Students posing at UN offices in Nairobi, Kenya

A Lehigh class attending a sustainable development conference at UN offices in Nairobi, Kenya

For the second year running, Lehigh has been recognized with a prestigious Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education from the Institute for International Education (IIE) for student mobility.

The annual award program recognizes the most innovative and impactful models for internationalization of campuses, study abroad and international partnership programs. IIE awards initiatives that remove institutional barriers and broaden the base of participation in international teaching and learning on campus. 

This year, Lehigh was selected as the Heiskell Award winner in the partnerships category for the ongoing successes of the Lehigh University-United Nations Partnership, following its selection last year in the student mobility category. Lehigh joined three other universities—Rice University, Harper College and the University of Tulsa—in winning Heiskells this year. 

Lehigh student Nadine Clopton at UN Geneva

Lehigh student and UN Youth Representative Nadine Clopton is the first youth elected to the UN NGO Executive Committee.

“The innovative thinking in the international education community is what will prepare students for working in a complex, international world,” IIE President and CEO Dr. Allan E. Goodman said in announcing the winners. “These programs are building cultural and leadership skills that are essential to addressing global challenges, both for students who are encouraged to study abroad and for those who benefit from campuses more connected to the world. We are very proud to recognize these programs with the IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards for their innovative work and hope that their successes spark new ideas in the years to come.”

“This is a real honor for Lehigh, as the Heiskell Award is one of the top awards in the world of international education,” says Bill Hunter, Lehigh’s director of Fellowship Advising and UN Programs. “This is the one that everyone in our field aspires to, so for Lehigh to be recognized two years running is a great achievement.”

When the Lehigh-UN program was first launched 15 years ago, the university became just the sixth in the world to be accredited by the UN as a non-governmental organization. That important designation gives the Lehigh community access to the world’s largest intergovernmental organization. Each year more than 1,500 Lehigh faculty, staff and students attend UN conferences, high-level briefings and private meetings with ambassadors and other UN officials in New York City and on campus. 

Hunter says that from the very start, Lehigh has been strategic about developing its partnership with the UN. Since the initial launch of the program, he said, the university has been deliberate about developing areas of focus within the program that align with areas of expertise for the university. Those pillars currently include youth empowerment, gender equity, sustainable development, social justice, and health. 

“What we’ve done with the UN is pursue a strategic evaluation of our strengths, and then align them with UN entities such as the International Labor Organization, Sustainable UN and the Environmental Program,” Hunter says. “We have very strong support from a wide variety of academic departments on campus, enabling us to take a holistic approach to our UN-based affiliations.”

A not-for-profit with 18 offices and affiliates worldwide, IIE collaborates with a range of corporate, government and foundation partners across the globe to design and manage scholarships, study abroad, workforce training and leadership development programs.

To learn more about the Heiskell Awards, visit the IEE site here.

Story by

Tim Hyland

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