2016 U21 Award - Wondwossen Gebreyes & Michael Clifford

2016 U21 Awards given to Dr Wondwossen Gebreyes and Dr Michael Clifford, in recognition of their individual efforts towards internationalisation.


Universitas 21 has announced the recipients of this year’s U21 Awards for Internationalisation, recognising individual efforts which further internationalisation and build relations between U21 members and beyond. The 2016 awardees are Dr Wondwossen Gebreyes of The Ohio State University and Dr Michael Clifford of The University of Nottingham.

Dr Gebreyes’ award is presented for his commitment to and leadership in international education, most notably for his work in the fields of global health and veterinary medicine, as well as molecular epidemiology in which he has initiated numerous collaborative partnerships which have inspired teaching, learning and research globally.

In particular, he has had a significant impact on the internationalisation of higher education in a consultative role for various countries across around the world, including Australia, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. He is also the founder and president of the International Congress on Pathogens at the Human Animal Interface, a network of more than 990 members spanning 65 countries and includes academic institutions, NGOs, and business and industry.

Of particular significance to the furthering of internationalisation in higher education, Dr Gebreyes founded the Ethiopia One Health initiative in 2009, which is held as Ohio State’s largest interdisciplinary example of cross functional teamwork involving internal and external organisations across the globe. His work has significantly influenced the growth of international scholarship and research on priority global issues, while enhancing collaboration internationally and creating a shared knowledge platform that impacts lives locally and globally.

Speaking on notification of the award, Dr Gebreyes said “I and many of us at Ohio State are delighted to hear the wonderful news of this award from U21. The significance of One Health, particularly, in the global arena is so important to the long term sustainability of our planet in terms of health and livelihood of humans, animals and our collective environment. As such, we feel very much honoured to have the One Health Ethiopia project recognised. As we are in the 21st century with a number of emerging issues associated with health including climate change, urbanization, migration and so many factors that interplay in health, it is great to see the very consortium named after the 21st century (Universitas 21) recognise these efforts.”

Vice provost for Global Strategies and International Affairs at Ohio State, William Brustein, said: “The Universitas 21 Award is a lasting tribute to Dr Gebreyes’ passion and expertise in the field of global health. His dedication has helped Ohio State leverage its comprehensive health science campus to build capacity and he has created meaningful ways for students and faculty to gain and share knowledge on a global scale.”

A 2016 U21 Award has also been given to Dr Michael Clifford in recognition of his long-term dedication to the furthering of international education, in particular in relation to his sustained impact and leadership in the development of the student learning experience as well as on communities throughout the developing world.

In particular, his impact is most felt in the field of mechanical engineering, where he has published over seventy academic works. These include teaching case studies on the use of appropriate technology in further education. He has also integrated notions of sustainability and appropriate technology into the teaching of engineering at Nottingham to ensure students have a breadth of understanding of global challenges and their global responsibilities.

Dr Clifford’s impact on the furthering of internationalisation in higher education has also been felt outside of the classroom, where he has created international experiences for students which impact positively on communities with a particular focus on Africa, but also across the globe, including Cambodia, India, Malaysia and Tajikistan. His innovative work to enhance the success and growth of global communities has seen Dr Clifford work on a variety of sustainable materials and technologies including yak wool, recycled banknotes, waste cardboard and the use of banana skins and leaves as a fuel source by communities across Africa.

Responding to the news of the award, Dr Clifford commented: “I heard that I’d received the U21 award whilst I was in Ghana carrying out some fieldwork. It came as a total surprise and felt a little surreal. It’s great to have some international recognition for my work on sustainability and internationalisation and I look forward to meeting everyone in Singapore later this year.”

The University of Nottingham Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Greenaway, said: “Mike’s contribution to internationalisation stems from the impact that he has had on students over a sustained period of time, both in terms of the challenges he sets in the classroom to ensure an understanding of the major challenges of technology, development and sustainability and the experience they have garnered working on projects that have had real impacts in the developing world. The activities that Mike has led have raised the awareness of the role that engineering and engineering students can play internationally in changing communities for the better.”

Jane Usherwood, Secretary General of Universitas 21, congratulated both awardees, saying “Over the past years the U21 Awards have recognised some outstanding contributions to internationalisation, and the 2016 recipients maintain this high standard.  Both Wondwossen Gebreyes and Mike Clifford show that internationalisation is more than an abstract concept.  Through their creativity and talent, they have engaged minds, addressed real problems and so improved the world around them, inspiring others to do the same.  We are delighted to acknowledge the impact of their outstanding work and present them as role models around our network.”

The hand-crafted wood and glass awards will be presented at a special ceremony in May 2016 as part of U21’s Annual Presidential Meeting, being held at The National University of Singapore.