Hoyt Purvis Award Winners Announced During International Education Week

From left: Namiko Bagirimvano accepts the Hoyt Purvis Award from GSIE Dean Ed Pohl.
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From left: Namiko Bagirimvano accepts the Hoyt Purvis Award from GSIE Dean Ed Pohl.

The U of A Graduate School and International Education recognized staff and faculty members with the 2023 Hoyt H. Purvis Awards for Service in International Education during an event Monday in celebration of International Education Week.

The award recognizes a university faculty member, a university staff member and a staff member of the Graduate School and International Education for their outstanding service to the field of international education. The award is named in honor of Hoyt Purvis, a university professor who transformed international education at the U of A who passed away this summer.

The winners were:

  • GSIE staff member: Namiko Bagirimvano, director of Sponsored Students and Special Programs
  • University faculty member: Jeff Miller, professor in the Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology
  • University staff member: Mindy Hunthrop, assistant director of Master of Science in Operations Management and Engineering Management Programs

Namiko Bagirimvano

Bagirimvano serves as director of sponsored students and special programs, where she leads the university's efforts to facilitate the admission, support and repatriation of sponsored students at the U of A.

She has served in GSIE for more than a decade supporting domestic and international students, beginning as an intern for a joint position between the Office of International Students and Scholars and Holcombe Hall. In that role, she started programs that continue to this day, such as Dance Around the World.

"She was well loved, and students were always in her office hanging out," her nomination letter states. "She inspired them and put them to work in creating programs that would enhance cultural understanding and bring Americans and internationals together."

After her internship, Bagirimvano continued working with ISS, where she assisted visiting and exchange students and built relationships with partnering universities in Europe and Asia. Bagirimvano was promoted to assistant director for retention in the office, where she led programs that were "organized, innovative and thoughtful," according to the nomination letter.

After leaving the university to move closer to family, Bagirimvano returned to her current role in SSSP.

"When I think of Nami, I think 'Everyone Loves Nami' — students, scholars, staff, faculty, community members, leaders and influencers," the nomination letter states. "Nami has done a lot for international here in Arkansas, nationally and internationally. She has also helped put international education on the map for Arkansas in the world."

Mindy Hunthrop

Hunthrop serves as the assistant director of the Master of Science in Operations Management and Engineering Management Programs. She began working in the Operations Management program in 2015 before being promoted twice within the program.

Portrait of Mindy Hunthrop"This program has a healthy population of international students, and Mindy is committed to ensuring they have the tools necessary to be successful in the program," her nomination letter states. "I have seen first-hand her dedication to reworking internal policies to better fit the needs of the international student population, working with GSIE professionals to better understand various policies or trends and meeting face-to-face with students frequently to help them through the programs."

The letter also noted Hunthrop's commitment to student recruitment and leadership, in addition to her initiation of the M.S.O.M.'s first scholarship. After seeing the need for financial support for students, she helped raise money to start the scholarship. Since its inception in 2018, the scholarship has benefited several international students.

"Mindy ensures that each person she comes into contact with is met with compassion, a friendly face and an understanding that everyone can bring something interesting and productive to the table," the nomination letter states. "She has excelled in several trainings and professional development opportunities regarding inclusion and equity. She champions for equal rights for all in many ways. Having read Dr. Purvis's exemplary career history, I am confident that Mindy is a great candidate for this award in his honor."

Jeff Miller

Miller serves as professor of agricultural education, communications and technology in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. Throughout his 22-year career at the U of A, Miller has prioritized international education in his work as a faculty member.

portrait of Jeff Miller accepting the Hoyt Purvis Award from Dean Ed PohlBeginning in 2006, Miller formed a partnership with Scotland's Rural College to establish the first agricultural study tour exchange, leading U of A students on an agricultural study tour to the United Kingdom and hosting a similar agricultural study tour for U.K. students in Arkansas. He also established the first international internship exchanges at the U of A, bringing students from Scotland's Rural College to the U of A to work as agricultural research interns while sending students to Edinburgh, Scotland, to intern in similar roles.

Additionally, he has established undergraduate and graduate internships and research experiences in Rwanda, Uganda and Haiti for agricultural students in conjunction with the charity organization OneEgg Inc., whose goal is to get eggs as a protein source into children's diets in developing countries.

"Dr. Miller is a true advocate and supporter for international visitors — he nurtures their global learning experiences," his nomination letter states. "His mentorship to international interns, students and scholars has been invaluable. We witnessed his encouragement for these summer program students to consider the U of A as their future destination for their intern experiences and/or graduate programs. With faculty members like Dr. Miller, international education offices can continue to provide a wide range of international experiences and build a rich, diverse portfolio."



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