by Tom Parisi
NIU’s Division of International Programs has named Biological Sciences professor Gabriel Holbrook as recipient of the annual Outstanding International Educator award.
For the past decade, Holbrook has served as the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences’ coordinator of the NIU at Oxford Program. The study-abroad program takes place each summer at Oriel College, founded in 1326 and considered to be one of the most beautiful of the 34 colleges that make up Oxford University.
NIU has offered the Oxford program, founded by the Department of English, for more than 40 years. It is the oldest and one of the largest of the university’s faculty-directed study-abroad offerings. Each year, 25 to 35 NIU students take advantage of the five-week program, which allows them to earn NIU credit across the pond.
“Gabe has led our faculty in creating a truly engaged learning experience for this very special program in England,” says Deborah Pierce, associate provost of International Programs at NIU.
A native of England, Holbrook over the years has facilitated the teaching and organization of courses led by more than two dozen NIU faculty members from various departments, including anthropology, English, economics, geography and political science. Additionally, he teaches biology courses during the Oxford program.
“NIU at Oxford provides a unique opportunity for faculty to internationalize their courses,” Holbrook says.
“More than anything, though, the program benefits our students,” he adds. “For many, it’s the first time they’ve been out of the country, and they often do their own exploration in Europe. Quite a few participants end up coming back. In fact, this past year we had two undergraduates who enjoyed the Oxford program so much that they went on to attend graduate school at the University of Essex in England.”
Holbrook received his award recently during the annual International Recognition Reception.
International Programs also gave its award for Outstanding Department to the Department of Marketing, while the Outstanding Student awards went to Nicolet Berkman, a senior in marketing, and Karel Waska, a doctoral student in geology.