When Denise Dimon received the Woman of Impact Award in the administrator category at last December’s University of San Diego Women’s Center Luncheon, the award was certainly deserving.
Maybe, though, her award should have been expanded to more accurately reflect her role — perhaps, Dimon, USD’s associate provost of international affairs, should have been named a Global Woman of Impact.
Her duties at USD include overseeing its International Center — which houses undergraduate student study abroad and the Office of International Students and Scholars — serving as director of the Ahlers Center for International Business with top-notch graduate study abroad programs and consulting opportunities, dual-degree programs with international institutions, and an international MBA degree program that she helped launch in 1999. Dimon has been a catalyst for enhancing efforts campus-wide on all things internationalization to impact undergraduate, graduate and foreign students and faculty.
Dimon’s work has been so closely tied to an international scope that some might not realize she’s been a professor of economics in the School of Business since 1983.
“Denise, more than anyone, has built USD into the number one university in the U.S. for (undergraduate) student travel abroad (participation),” said one of Dimon’s nominators. “Denise’s work bridges cultures, builds relationships, enriches our students’ lives and fosters a general understanding of the world.”
Dimon, a former Fulbright Scholar, has academic international experiences to her credit, including visiting professorships in Mexico, Latin America and Europe, serving as Business Association of Latin American Studies (BALAS) president and as co-editor of Latin American Business Review, a quarterly academic journal. She also recently completed a two-year U.S. Department of Education grant examining the development of faculty and staff expertise and educational opportunities in Latin America and Asia.
Dimon’s work has shaped many people’s perspective on internationalization, but she acknowledges that her efforts are merely to continue building onto the foundation of what USD has done through this important educational opportunity.
“I think it’s great that we’re ranked No. 1 for our students who do study abroad (Institute of International Education’s Open Doors Report in 2011 and 2012), but that’s really just one piece of our internationalization. We have international students coming, faculty doing research, courses, and degrees on campus where an international component is required. Internationalization has been institutionalized on this campus; it’s one of the president’s strategic initiatives,” Dimon said.
“What I think is so exciting about our international programs is that they’re so varied. We have a faculty-led model, semester programs, semester exchanges with some of the leading universities around the world, dual-degree programs, ones with a service-learning component, business consulting projects. There are a lot of different things going on and that makes it interesting.”
Dimon said the thrill of international opportunities keeps her going, too.
“It’s exciting to go to another country as a faculty member,” she said. “We already have small classes, but when you’re in a new environment, a new country, and you’re with the students to experience it … Honestly, it’s the students I’ve had international experiences with that I remember and I’m in contact with the most because there’s so much sharing involved.”
But for Dimon to do what she’s done so well for so long, she also knows what her presence, involvement and leadership as an administrator means, particularly to other women.
“The number of women seeking a PhD in economics when I was (at University of Illinois) was only 13 percent,” said Dimon, who earned both her PhD and master’s in economics there. “I’ve participated in women’s groups and I’ve felt it was important to have that support group, especially as a graduate student. In many fields, women are the minority. I think it’s great that we have the Women’s Center on this campus. It’s very important for young women to have a place where they can go and feel connected, and have a forum for discussion and sharing. I think it’s great we have the Women of Impact event, too, so that women can recognize other women.”
— Ryan T. Blystone