BERKELEY, Calif., June 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- When it comes to innovative strategies to expand study abroad opportunities for diverse and underrepresented students, SUNY-New Paltz leads the way. The university has been named the winner of the 2011 Innovation Award, chosen by the Diversity in Global Education Network (Diversity Network). The Innovation Award is the first of its kind to honor institutions for creative and effective work in diversifying education abroad. Also recognized were second-place winner the Japan Center for Michigan Universities administered by Michigan State University and third-place winner Augsburg College. SUNY-New Paltz, part of the State University of New York system, demonstrates outstanding efforts to make international education available to its diverse and underrepresented students, says Diversity Network founder Andrew Gordon. SUNY-New Paltz fosters full collaboration between its study-abroad office and its Educational Opportunity Program office, tailoring each international experience to the strengths and interests of the individual student. "International education is an essential piece of a well-rounded education and increasingly an experience that sets students apart from their peers," Gordon says. " SUNY-New Paltz and the other awardees are leaders in ensuring that all their students have equal access to this invaluable experience." SUNY-New Paltz will present an overview of its equity practices this October 6 at Diversity Network's workshop, "Diversifying Education Abroad -- From Discussion To Action," held at San Diego State University. Sponsored by CAPA International Education, the Diversity Network Innovation Award recognizes outstanding efforts by colleges and universities to break down barriers to study abroad that are typically faced by diverse and underrepresented students. These include cultural, financial and physical barriers that have traditionally blocked ethnic and racial minority, disabled, community college, and other students from international education programs.