Sewanee - The University of the South Honors Dr. Mary M. Dwyer with Honorary Doctor of Civil Law Degree

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IES Abroad
May 29, 2015

Dr. Mary M. Dwyer, President and CEO of IES Abroad, has received an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree from Sewanee – The University of the South for her distinguished achievements and contributions to the field of international education that have led to enormous growth in the number of U.S. students studying abroad.

Dr. Dwyer was nominated and vetted by the University of the South Board of Regents and the University Senate, and approved by John M. McCardell, Jr., the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University, with this praise:

“In awarding honorary degrees, the University seeks to acknowledge distinguished achievement in a particular field and place before our graduates examples of conspicuous excellence. In [Dr. Dwyer’s] case, we would be recognizing a person whose work in the field of study abroad has enriched the educational experience of a great many students, including quite a number of Sewanee students.”

Dr. Dwyer received her honorary degree during the May 9th Baccalaureate ceremony. Robert M. Gates, former secretary of defense and Chancellor of the College of William & Mary; Frantz Robertson Hershey, headmaster of Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia; and Jefferson Allen McMahan, C’76, White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford also received honorary degrees during the ceremony, where Gates gave the Baccalaureate address.

Dr. Dwyer’s contributions to the field of study abroad are impressive and extensive. In addition to her achievements at IES Abroad, Dr. Dwyer served as a founding member, Board Vice Chair, and Board Chair on the Forum on Education Abroad (the standards-setting organization for study abroad). She also served on the Abraham Lincoln Commission on Study Abroad, a bi-partisan, Presidential and Congressional Commission formed in 2003 to explore ways to increase the number of American students studying abroad.

Many of IES Abroad’s greatest achievements have occurred under Dr. Dwyer’s direction: the development of the IES Abroad Model Assessment Practice Series (which set benchmarks for the study abroad field for program development, language study, and health and safety), a 50-year longitudinal alumni study, as well as the launch of IES Abroad’s Diversity Initiative and IES Internships, to name a few.

Of particular note is IES Abroad’s extraordinary growth, beginning when Dr. Dwyer arrived as President in 1996. In the 19 years that Dr. Dwyer has served as President, IES Abroad enrollments have grown by more than 300%, and more than 76,000 students have been educated and experienced the power of study abroad during her tenure.

In addition to the impressive growth in headcount, IES Abroad has also expanded its global footprint by adding study abroad programs in more than 25 international cities.

Dr. Dwyer has kept IES Abroad mission-driven and focused on the quality of the student experience. Under her guidance, the organization has extended its mission to reach this remarkable number of students, thanks to Dr. Dwyer’s commitment to students, quality, and building a healthy, productive, and transparent organization.

Previous recipients of The University of the South’s honorary Doctor of Civil Law include former President George H.W. Bush; former First Lady Barbara Bush; James A. Baker III, former White House Chief of Staff, secretary of the treasury, and secretary of state; Sandra Day O’Connor, retired Associate Justice of the United State Supreme Court; and Howard Henry Baker Jr., former U.S. Senator, Senate Majority Leader, White House Chief of Staff, and U.S. Ambassador to Japan.

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