Emory’s commitment to collaboration allows the university to foster global partnerships and engage with diverse perspectives and experiences, enabling the institution to broaden its impact and promote a deeper understanding of the world. The university’s global engagement is fostered on campus and expands internationally through its commitment to research, innovation, service and the success of its international alumni.
On March 30, Emory University’s Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives (GSI) hosted the 2023 International Awards ceremony at Convocation Hall to recognize three exceptional members of the Emory community whose work has significantly contributed to the advancement of the university’s global engagement: Jeffry Lesser, Woo Taek Kim and Daphne Orr.
Each year, the International Awards recognize the outstanding achievements of an Emory faculty member, an international alumnus and a staff member who have made extraordinary contributions to Emory’s global work and reputation. The event provides an opportunity to celebrate the recipients’ exceptional accomplishments and their positive impact on the university and the world.
“This awards ceremony was particularly special, as it marked the first time since 2020 that we gathered in person to honor the outstanding global engagement contributions of members of the Emory community,” says Philip Wainwright, vice provost for global strategy and initiatives. “It was fulfilling to celebrate and connect, especially after enduring the pandemic-related challenges of the last few years.”
The award recipients have demonstrated Emory’s dedication to making a global impact through their remarkable work both on campus and abroad. They are:
- Jeffrey Lesser, Marion V. Creekmore Award for Internationalization (Emory College and Halle Institute for Global Research)
- Woo Taek Kim 90MBA, Sheth Distinguished International Alumni Award (Next Entertainment World media group)
- Daphne Orr, International Outreach Award (Oxford College)
Creekmore Award for Internationalization
Jeffrey Lesser is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of History, renowned for his research in Brazilian studies and modern Latin American history. He is a specialist in the construction of national identity in Brazil, focusing on questions of race, ethnicity and immigration; he is currently researching the relationship between health and immigration in Brazil.
Lesser is the author of several highly acclaimed books, including “Immigration, Ethnicity and National Identity in Brazil” and “Welcoming the Undesirables: Brazil and the Jewish Question.” He has been awarded prestigious grants from organizations such as Fulbright, Fulbright-Hays, Social Science Research Council, the Ford Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies.
While at Emory, Lesser has held multiple leadership roles, including directorship of the Latin American studies and Jewish studies programs and his time as chair of the Department of History. Most recently, as director of the Halle Institute for Global Research, he reorganized the institute to promote innovation and creativity through cross-disciplinary programs that connect Emory to researchers around the world.
“The Halle Institute Global Fellows and faculty who have shared their research with me over the years have helped me become a better scholar and teacher,” says Lesser. “This makes the Creekmore Award a collective one for Emory’s global researchers who show each day how academic excellence emerges when research and teaching are placed at the pinnacle of Emory’s global engagement.”
Sheth Distinguished International Alumni Award
Woo Taek Kim 90MBA is a prominent figure in the entertainment industry who has been driving creative change for more than 25 years. He is the CEO and chairman of Next Entertainment World (NEW), a Seoul-based content media group he founded in 2008.
Under his leadership, NEW has been an innovative force in the Korean entertainment industry and has created a new business model in the production and distribution of cultural content. Rather than relying on a traditional, vertically integrated business structure, NEW has expanded by building partnerships with leading global companies such as Disney, Netflix and Library Pictures International. NEW’s focus has expanded beyond film, and its production and distribution businesses now cover a wide range of media, including music and television. He has also supported new artists and studios, contributing to greater diversity in the entertainment space.
“I wanted to amplify stories that could move people’s hearts, globally connect people to one another, and promote a common ground amongst different communities,” says Kim. “NEW’s hope and vision is to become the world’s culture curator.”
Kim’s film production credits include “Pietà,” winner of the Golden Lion at the 69th Venice Film Festival, and mega-hit “Train to Busan,” which premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. He and his wife, Mimi Han, an alumna of Oxford and Emory colleges, are highly engaged supporters of the university and actively contribute to the development of the alumni community as alumni leaders.
“Beyond giving me the greatest gift of family, Emory gave me a totally new perspective of the global business world, a strong business mindset, and instilled in me a set of values that guided my career and life decisions,” he says.
International Outreach Award
Daphne Orr is the director of International Student Programs at Oxford College of Emory University, where she has worked since 2016. With nearly 30 years of experience in international education, Orr started her career as an ESL instructor; her current role includes immigration advising for students on F-1 visas.
Additionally, Orr designs and implements programs to assist international students in their transition to life in the U.S. and at Oxford College. She also advises multiple student groups on leadership development and creates programs to help faculty and staff develop greater intercultural competency and understanding.
“I love that Emory and Oxford are people- and student-focused,” says Orr. “International education is so transformative, and I am impacted by and learn from my students daily.”
Orr has been actively involved with NAFSA (the Association of International Educators) for many years, presenting at regional and national conferences. She also has served on NAFSA’s Crisis Management Task Force, chaired the NAFSA Subcommittee on Crisis Management, and held the role of region VII coach for the NAFSA Academy. In 2014, Orr was selected as a Fulbright: International Educator’s Seminar grantee to Germany.
Orr holds a bachelor’s degree in German from Tulane University, a master’s degree in conflict management from Kennesaw State University and is currently pursuing a doctorate in education with a concentration in global studies and international education and leadership at the University of Illinois.