The University of Delaware’s Institute for Global Studies (IGS) has honored Greg Shriver as the Study Abroad Faculty Director of the Year for, among other positive attributes, his ability to lead in a challenging environment.
The story began in the frigid Delaware winter of 2014 as students accepted to the Costa Rica environment and wildlife conservation program were eager to escape the wind and snow and immerse themselves in a warm, sunny new biome.
The group boarded their plane at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey with Shriver, assistant chair and professor of entomology and wildlife ecology in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Disembarking hours later, they discovered that only four of their 13 suitcases had made it to Costa Rica.
Although this setback could have ruined both the group’s morale and the 11-mile hike planned for the following day, Shriver maintained his poise and kept the group on task.
“It was clear that we were not likely going to see our bags for at least a day or two so we took inventory of what we had and decided to stay on schedule,” said Shriver. “This experience really seemed to pull the group together as the hike and experience at Nancite is an exciting accomplishment, even when you have your own clothes.”
Students who participated in Shriver’s study abroad program were exposed to the biological diversity of the neotropics and identified over 300 different species of birds. This experience helped one student secure a job. Another wrote, “He challenged us to find new ways to solve old problems and adapt what we learned in Costa Rica to solve problems at home.”
Of the 22 nominated program directors, Shriver was unanimously chosen by a faculty panel and study abroad coordinators to be the 2014 Study Abroad Faculty Director of the Year.
“The choice was obvious not only due to the number and quality of student nominations, but also because of Dr. Shriver’s expert handling of a very challenging lost luggage situation upon his group’s arrival in Costa Rica,” said Lisa Chieffo, associate director of study abroad.
Shriver was praised by the students for his leadership, and his ability to synthesize learning with their overall experience in Costa Rica. Many wrote that he became a mentor and “inspirer of confidence, problem solving, adaptability, and many other traits.”
He was also described by students as a great “global ambassador for UD and America,” and helped the group learn the importance of respecting and understanding other cultures.
“I truly believe that Costa Rica changed my life and was the highlight of my entire career at UD. I also know that none of it would have been possible without the constant help, support, and leadership of Greg Shriver. He made the trip fun, educational, and most importantly he helped to expand our worldviews to better understand other cultures,” one student concluded.
Prior to 2014, Shriver led study abroad programs to Ecuador and Galapagos in 2007, and to Costa Rica in 2013. He said his favorite part of directing a study abroad program is that traveling to a location where the students have never been before is infectious and makes him feel like he is experiencing and visiting the area for the first time, too.
“I hope they gain confidence in their abilities, exposure to the wonders and importance of biodiversity, and the issues associated with maintaining it,” said Shriver.
About the Institute for Global Studies
The Institute for Global Studies was created in 2009 to enhance the international dimensions of teaching, research and outreach at the University of Delaware. IGS provides leadership and support for programs and experiences that contribute to the education of informed, skilled, open-minded citizens of the world.
Best known for coordinating the University’s study abroad program, IGS also awards scholarships and grants to faculty and students for myriad global opportunities, administers internationally-recognized programs such as the MEPI (Middle East Partnership Initiative) Student Leaders Institute, and sponsors such signature events as International Education Week each fall and country-specific celebrations each spring.
IGS collaborates with other global partners on campus, including the Office for International Students and Scholars, the Confucius Institute and the Center for Global and Area Studies.
Article by Elizabeth Adams
Photo by Lindsay Yeager