UM International Student Director Earns Regional Service Award

November 28, 2017

MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s International Students and Scholars director and founder was recognized with a regional award of excellence for her service to international education.

Effie Koehn received the Gene Smith Award at the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Tri-Regional Conference in early November. Earlier this year, Koehn announced her plans to retire at the end of December after 35 years at UM.

Effie Koehn receives the Gene Smith Award at the 2017 NAFSA: Association of International Educators Tri-Regional Conference in early November. Photo by Mary Nellis.“Effie leaves big shoes to fill,” said Mary Nellis, Global Engagement Office adviser, “but those shoes have created a well-worn path for others to follow.”

Nellis nominated Koehn to receive the Gene Smith Award, noting the international impact her work has had – through her roles at UM and nationally as an advocate for international education policies.

Since creating the Foreign Student and Scholar Services office at UM in 1982, Koehn has guided international activities on campus, including leading the vision for the popular UM International Food and Culture Festival. She helped create the Missoula International Friendship Program to integrate international students into the local community. She also served on the governing board of NAFSA for a number of years, including a two-year term as president of NAFSA Region II.

“UM students and alumni hold her in high esteem as a staunch advocate for international students and scholars,” Nellis said.

The Gene Smith Award recognizes a nominated Region II member or agency who contributed 20 or more years of service to international activities and is named in honor of its first recipient, Gene Smith, a foreign student adviser at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Smith was an adviser to Koehn while she was a student at CU. Later, he became a NAFSA consultant and mentored Koehn when she created the FSSS office at UM.

In 2005, Koehn won the NAFSA Bruce Tracy Award. She also received a Fulbright International Education Administrators Seminar grant in 1986, the International Educator of the Year Award from Hinchliff International in 1997, and the Excellence in Leadership Award from the Montana Interagency Committee for Change by Women in 2013.

UM has honored Koehn with the UM Outstanding Administrator Award in 1994 and the UM Distinguished Service to International Education Award in 2001.


Contact: Mary Nellis, Global Engagement Office adviser, 406-243-2288,