IES Abroad Celebrates Outstanding Faculty Members with Annual Faculty Awards

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IES Abroad
November 21, 2019

During International Education Week, we like to honor the “study” part of study abroad by recognizing our outstanding faculty with the IES Abroad Faculty Awards. This year’s winners are exceptional, and continue to raise the (already high) bar for academic programming in the field.

Michael Adewumi, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, highlighted why the Faculty Awards are so vital to IES Abroad's mission:

“Academic excellence is the cornerstone of IES Abroad, and the faculty is its key proponent. It is therefore heartwarming and reaffirming to receive the outpouring of accolades and appreciation showered by our students on the nominees for our Instructor of the Year, and Excellence in Teaching Awards. Each one is a testament to the academic rigor, dedication, and care that our excellent faculty members around the globe bring to the classroom every day.”

The selection committee received more than 500 student nominations for their favorite faculty members. The committee, comprised of representatives from U.S. colleges and universities as well as IES Abroad’s Academic Council, reviewed the nominations alongside class evaluations, Center Director’s letters of support, and course syllabi to select the award winners. All three of our winners received multiple nominations.

And the awards go to....


Marie-Joseph Grenon (IES Abroad Nantes) | Instructor of the Year

Marie-Jo has been teaching with IES Abroad Nantes since 2009. Her two French language classes, French Language in Context: Emerging Independent Abroad and French Language in Context: Competent Abroad, have been incredibly rigorous and supportive environments for our IES Abroad Nantes students to perfect their French language skills. Center Director Thibaut De Berranger said: "Marie-Jo Grenon is a very committed teacher in her two French courses and her teaching internship seminar. She is constantly innovating to adapt her teaching each semester to the needs of her students. Her dedication continues to benefit the alumni who solicit her and whom she always helps with a smile!" 

This dedication and care was reflected in the student nominations, as well. One said, "She is the most caring and sincere teacher I have had since elementary school. She corrects any grammar mistakes and fully explains them to you, so you know what to do next time.” Another commented on her excellent teaching style, stating: “Madame Grenon was one of the best professors I have ever had. She was kind, patient, and understanding with her students. She understood me as a learner and gave me the encouragement I needed to step outside of my comfort zone while speaking a foreign language. I will always remember her from my time in France.”


Giovanni Mazzini, Ph.D. (IES Abroad Siena) | Excellence in Teaching Award

Giovanni is not only a staple of the IES Abroad Siena programs, but of the city itself. He's been teaching with IES Abroad since 2008, and with classes such as History and Culture of Food in Italy and TuscanyThe Palio and the Contrade of Sienaand Black Death and its Aftermaths, it's easy to see why they are some of our Siena students' favorites. IES Abroad Center Director Veronica Semeraro expressed her appreciation, explaining, "Giovanni is not just passionate about the subject that he teaches, but he is also passionate to deliver his knowledge of the history and the city of Siena to his subjects." 

This was a sentiment echoed across the nomination forms. One student wrote, “He was a wonderful teacher that cared about each of his students outside the classroom, as well. He really made sure we were enjoying our time in Siena, and I cannot think of anyone who loves the city more than he does." Another highlighted that "Giovanni's class was not only fascinating while I was in Siena, but continues to be one of the best classes I have ever taken. My goal is to be as knowledgeable and dedicated to a subject as he is!" 

“I believe that establishing a bond with students that involves them on an emotional level contributes both to teaching (and therefore to their learning) and to enriching the teacher.”
Giovanni Mazzini

Maria Sepa, Ph.D. (IES Abroad Milan) | Excellence in Teaching Award & Long-Term Faculty Award

Maria has been with IES Abroad for an impressive 25 years. She created two courses for IES Abroad MilanLiterature and the City and Investigating the Mafia, to encourage students to pursue Humanities courses while abroad, offering the city's rich history as a backdrop to their coursework. She is also an avid translator and a published author, and her wide variety of intellectual pursuits engage students throughout their time in Milan. 

Roberto Andreoni, Ph.D., IES Abroad Milan Center Director, spoke of Dr. Sepa's dedication to teaching saying, "Maria Sepa is essential to the IES Abroad Milan faculty. I treasure her friendship and collaboration as a committed teacher, a critical observer of the pedagogical evolution of American academe, and a precious, spontaneous, advisor about all intercultural aspects of our programs and curriculum."

Incredibly high praise for Maria was reflected in every student nomination, including: “Professor Sepa is one of the most fantastic instructors I have ever had. Her course challenged me to be a better thinker, writer, and Italian language speaker...My language and critical thinking skills grew more under Professor Sepa than they did in four previous semesters of Italian.” One student said: “Ultimately, her class was transformative in how I view the world and my perspective on Italian language and culture. There were countless times that I was able to engage with my host family or neighbors in conversations that would not have been possible without her course.”

Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations!

It certainly takes a village to ensure that students have experiential learning opportunities abroad that meet the highest standards of academic quality. This aspect of study abroad has a lasting impression on many of our students, and we are so thankful to our wonderful faculty for their dedication, inspiration, and innovation.

Learn more about our excellence in academic leadership, and read about the 25 Professors You'll Want to Take a Class With to learn more about our amazing faculty around the world.

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