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MEDIA ADVISORY: MU Honors Excellence in Global Contributions

Story Contact(s):
Emily Martin,, (573) 882-3346

WHAT: The University of Missouri Council on International Initiatives will host an award ceremony honoring students, faculty and staff members for their efforts to sustain and extend the university’s global reach and understanding.

MU students Sarah Almahmoud and Kiho Ogura will present the 2011 MU International Engagement Awards along with a presentation on international crises response and fundraising. Their project, “Mizzou for Japan,” raised more than $7,000 for victims of the recent earthquakes and tsunami.

WHO: The 2011 MU International Engagement Award recipients include two MU students, two faculty members and a staff member. Please see attached recipients’ biographies.

The MU Council on International Initiatives advises the provost on priorities and initiatives in the international area. It was established in April 1996.

WHEN: 3 p.m., Thursday, April 21 .

WHERE: Fred W. Smith Forum (Room 200), Reynolds Journalism Institute, MU Campus

NOTE: This event is free and open to the public.


2011 MU International Engagement Award Recipient Biographies

Outstanding Student Contribution

Patricia Vewenda-Mabengo, international studies senior

Patricia Vewenda-Mabengo’s family moved from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Columbia when she was 8 years old so her father could pursue a master’s degree in agricultural economics. Now, Vewenda-Mabengo is completing her bachelor’s degree in international studies. As president of the African Student Association (ASA), she has worked to elevate the campus community’s perception of Africans by demonstrating various aspects of African beauty, intellect and grace. She founded the Miss Africa Mizzou pageant and has organized other ASA events, including the MU African Gala Extravaganza, Un-silence the Congo, Taste of Africa and Africa Week.  After graduating, she hopes to volunteer with the Peace Corps and eventually to return to the DRC to work on rehabilitation programs for rape victims.

Yuan Tian, psychology and communication junior

Undergraduate Yuan Tian is pursuing a double major in psychology and communication. Since coming to MU, she has regularly volunteered for several organizations benefitting MU’s international community, including the International Center’s new student orientation program. Most recently, Tian was elected to serve as president of the Friendship Association of Chinese Students and Scholars (FACSS).  She has been responsible for organizing services for MU’s growing Chinese community, such as providing transportation for newly arriving Chinese students, and also for coordinating FACSS participation in campus events that showcase Chinese culture and talent. As executive producer for the 2011 MU China Night, she devoted considerable time to sharing Chinese culture with the MU campus and local community.

Outstanding Staff Contribution

Jake Halliday, president and CEO of the MU Life Science Business Incubator

Jake Halliday has furthered the internationalization of the university by establishing an international reputation for the MU Life Science Business Incubator, of which he is president and CEO. In 2010, Halliday led the incubator to achieve International Incubator designation, an award recognizing incubators that offer specialized programs for young companies that move into the incubator’s domestic market from overseas. Halliday also developed a sister incubator relationship with Bio-City Nottingham, one of Europe’s leading business incubators. Finally, through his “High Growth Ventures” class in the MBA program of MU’s Trulaske College of Business, he has supported the participation and success of MU students in prestigious international business plan competitions.

International Scholar

John Miles Foley, Curators’ Professor and Byler Distinguished Professor of English and Classical Studies

Throughout his career, Professor John Miles Foley, Curators Professor and Byler Distinguished Professor of English and Classical Studies, has worked to further scholarship on the oldest and newest of humankind’s communicative technologies − oral tradition and the Internet. In 1986, he founded the Center for Oral Tradition (CSOT) to create an international forum for exchange. The corresponding journal, Oral Tradition, established the same year, has since published more than 500 articles examining more than 100 traditions worldwide, reaching an estimated annual readership of 20,000 in more than 200 countries. In 1995, the CSOT finalized an agreement, ratified by the Missouri Legislature, with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to pursue joint projects. Foley also has developed a series of courses that emphasize international connections, including a seminar on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage program, and has taught three languages – ancient Greek, Anglo-Saxon and South Slavic.  In 1996, Foley established MU’s Center for eResearch, which promotes multidisciplinary research on digital and internet initiatives.

Joseph Hobbs, geography professor

Geography Professor Joe Hobbs had dedicated much of his career to researching and traveling in the Middle East, where he has explored topics ranging from Bedouin herdsmen to cave morphology to drug cultivation. More recently, he has become a tireless champion of MU’s emerging initiatives in Vietnam as director of MU’s Vietnam Institute; the primary mission of the institute is to develop education and research exchanges. Since he began working with the institute in 2006, the number of Vietnamese students at MU has grown from 12 to 57. Hobbs has served in a consultative capacity on numerous occasions in Vietnam, sharing his expertise on education and curriculum reform as well as core research skills and practices. He was recently awarded a place on the prestigious Fulbright Specialist Program roster in the category of “International Education” specialists available to work in Vietnam.