Dean of Center for International Programs
receives national award

Bruce Sillner, dean of the Center for International Programs at the State University of New York at New Paltz, has been awarded the Marita Houlihan Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Field of International Education from the National Association of Foreign Student Affairs (NAFSA). The award was presented to Sillner at the annual conference in Los Angeles, May 24-29.

Sillner, who has served as dean of International Programs since 2001, is responsible for all international activities, including the administration of more than 40 study abroad and exchange programs that enroll more than 400 students. The Center for International Programs also provides services to more than 600 international students and scholars – the largest international student population of the SUNY university colleges.

Former New Paltz President Alice Chandler was also recognized with the Marita Houlihan Award in 1989 for her contributions to the international educational exchange field. As such, New Paltz is the only institution to have twice received this distinction.

College President Steven Poskanzer, said “Bruce Sillner has been a global leader in expanding the horizons of New Paltz students. He is a true citizen of the world and has inspired thousands of our students to grow and learn about other cultures and countries. He richly deserves this recognition, and his college is enormously proud of him.”

Marita Houlihan, former State Department official, pioneered in the establishment and administration of the Fulbright international student exchange program in the 1940s and ‘50s. She was also instrumental in the development of the U.S. government program for improving the cultural and academic experiences of privately sponsored students through grants to universities and institutions which share this goal, including NAFSA, although she was not a member.

This award, established after her death in 1982, recognizes those who have displayed imaginative activity, outstanding personal enterprise, and creative contributions to the field through research, writing or program development.

Criteria Used by the awards subcommittee to select nominees include a professional colleague who:
• Has contributed to the field of international education and exchange through research, publications or activity which has made a difference to the profession.

• Has displayed imaginative activity, outstanding personal enterprise, and creative contributions to the field through research, writing or program development.

• Through his/her body of work has influenced how international educators act and think about their work.

Under Sillner’s leadership, International Programs ( has established an extensive international center at the college; received recognition as a leader among SUNY comprehensive colleges in both study abroad and international student services; and developed more than 20 new study abroad programs. New Paltz was one of only 19 institutions throughout the world selected by the Forum on Education Abroad to participate in a pilot project to establish standards of good practice for study abroad. Additionally, the college was the first public university in the United States to offer a semester abroad program to first-year students.

Prior to becoming dean, Sillner held a number of positions at New Paltz, including Director of the Center for International Programs; Director of International Education; Director of Second Language Education; and Director of the Haggerty English Language Program.

Sillner is the former chair of the SUNY Council on International Education steering committee, is a frequent presenter on topics related to international education at national and international conferences, and a National Selection Panelist for the Gilman International Scholarship Program.