Inaugural Education Abroad Faculty Award Winners Are Announced

The UNC Charlotte Office of Education Abroad is thrilled to announce the inaugural winners of the International Excellence and Curriculum Design Awards, which recognize faculty members who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to promoting global engagement and enriching education abroad experiences for Niner Nation.

Madame Jane Houston, inaugural recipient of the Education Abroad International Excellence Award

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Jane Houston, Adjunct Instructor of French in the Department of Languages and Culture Studies, who has been honored with the International Excellence Award for her unwavering support of students interested in international experiences. Madame Houston has served as the faculty director for the long-running France: French Culture and Civilization in Paris short-term education abroad program, and for the nearly four decades she has served our institution, she has been a consistent pillar of support for students interested in immersing themselves in a foreign culture – French or not.

Professor Jeff Balmer, inaugural recipient of the Education Abroad Curriculum Design Award

We are equally delighted to announce Jeff Balmer, Associate Professor in the David R. Ravin School of Architecture, as the recipient of the Curriculum Design Award for his innovation in implementing a low-cost and impactful education abroad program that fits within the rigorous curriculum followed by Architecture students. For the 2024 iteration of the Italy: Architecture Semester in Rome + Istanbul program, Professor Balmer welcomed an unprecedented thirty-nine students to Rome for their capstone terms at UNC Charlotte. Of these students, seventeen will be extending their program to join him in Türkiye for additional research into the architectural and urban culture of Istanbul and the ancient cities of the Aegean Coast.

Both Madame Houston and Professor Balmer epitomize UNC Charlotte’s mission of providing an exemplary academic experience for students of all backgrounds. Their commitment to facilitating this experience abroad empowers students to build resiliency, confidence and self-efficacy, and inter-cultural competence, qualities that will benefit them throughout their university tenure and careers.

Education Abroad will be hosting a special ceremony on April 11 to celebrate the achievements of Madame Houston and Professor Balmer, where they will be formally recognized for their outstanding contributions to the campus community. As Professor Balmer is presently abroad with students, Blaine Brownell, Professor and Director of the David. R. Ravin School of Architecture, will accept the award on his behalf. This event will provide an opportunity for our community to convene and express our gratitude for their exceptional efforts in promoting internationalization and enhancing the educational experience of our students.

As we reflect on the accomplishments of our award recipients, we are galvanized to continue our commitment to fostering a culture of global engagement and academic excellence. The Office of Education Abroad remains dedicated to supporting initiatives that promote cross-cultural exchange, experiential learning, and international collaboration, and we welcome proposals from prospective faculty leaders for future study abroad programs. We are particularly interested in study abroad programs that embody the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Please join us in heartily congratulating Madame Houston and Professor Balmer on their well-deserved achievements. Their impact on Niner Nation and beyond is evidenced by the glowing testimonials of their students, and we look forward to witnessing their continued contributions to advancing global education.