Dr Tony Novosel received an Honorary MBE for Services to Study USA and Northern Ireland
Monday 29 April 2024
Dr. Tony Novosel, a longtime faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh, has been awarded an honorary MBE for his 25 years of dedicated service to the Study USA scholarship programme. The investiture ceremony took place on 16th April at Hillsborough Castle.  
Since 1996, Dr. Novosel has volunteered as the student support advisor for Study USA, mentoring over 2,500 students from Northern Ireland during their studies in the United States. In this unpaid role, he has selflessly provided around-the-clock guidance to young people helping them navigate opportunities and challenges.  
The awarding of an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) recognises Dr. Novosel's tireless efforts in supporting students from Northern Ireland and fostering cross-cultural understanding between the U.S. and Northern Ireland over his distinguished career.  
A native of Pittsburgh, Dr. Novosel's connection to Northern Ireland dates back to 1974 when he first travelled to Northern Ireland and witnessed the devastating impact of the Troubles. Inspired by those early travels, he pursued degrees at the University of Pittsburgh in political history, including a PhD in Soviet history.  
As a senior lecturer, Dr. Novosel has prioritised increasing access to international education opportunities. In addition to his work with Study USA, he has led study abroad trips for University of Pittsburgh students to sites across the island of Ireland since 2004. His 2013 book about the political history and developments in Northern Ireland earned him invitations to present his research here, and in the United States.  
Dr Novosel was thrilled to receive the award, saying: "I am so flattered, as well as delighted, to receive this MBE for my volunteer work with Study USA here in Northern Ireland. This is such a great honour. It’s hard to believe that I got an award for the privilege and joy of working with more than 2500 students on Study USA over a 26-year period. I am profoundly grateful that I was able to work with them, preparing them for the USA, while they were there, and in many cases, become lifelong friends with them. I got to experience the joy of seeing them return as confident and dynamic individuals, after witnessing how nervous and sometimes fearful they were before they left.   
Speaking about how he first connected with the Study USA programme, then called the Business Education Initiative, Dr Novosel added:Truly, I have been very lucky to be in this position, as little did I know that when I quit my factory job in Pittsburgh in 1973, moved to Wildwood, New Jersey, and then went to Belfast in 1974 that it would lead to these joyous and rewarding 26 years, and then to get an MBE? Amazing. It was in Wildwood where I met many students from Northern Ireland who were over working for the summer. After befriending many of them, I decided to get a job as a mechanic, make enough money and then visit Northern Ireland for the first time in April 1974. As you can imagine, like the students who decided to go on the Study USA programme, I was nervous and a bit fearful. But like them, I know that I made the right decision. I now sometimes think ‘What if I had never quit my job in 1973? What if I had not come here in 1974?’ None of this would have happened to me and I would never have met all these students. So, my hope is that the Study USA students will look back, 50 years on from their year in America, and like me, think about how they overcame their fears and decided to do Study USA for a year. A year that changed their lives and helped them make Northern Ireland a better place.” 
Study USA is managed by British Council Northern Ireland on behalf of the Department for the Economy. Speaking about Dr. Novosel’s dedication to the programme Jonathan Stewart, Director of British Council Northern Ireland, said:  
"This MBE is a testament to Dr. Novosel's selfless compassion and dedication to the students and to Northern Ireland, which has been a valuable asset to the Study USA programme. His mentorship has enriched the lives of so many students across Northern Ireland and in the U.S.  He has helped make studying abroad a truly transformative experience for them and his commitment to facilitating international education exemplifies the best values of cultural exchange.” 
Starting in 1994, the Study USA programme (originally the BEI – Business Education Initiative) was originally designed to assist with the peace process, with the White House providing an endorsement for the programme in 2014 in a letter written by President Bill Clinton. Since then, the initiative has enabled over 2500 students studying in Northern Ireland to study in all four corners of the US. 
Study USA offers undergraduate students studying in Northern Ireland the opportunity to study for one academic year at universities and colleges in the USA. The scholarship programme is highly regarded within the network of 140 partner institutions across the US.  
Through providing a unique international experience for the students, the programme has helped to develop important connections between Northern Ireland and the US, strengthening cultural and economic links and providing young people with skills and experience that are vital in developing Northern Ireland’s economy. 

Notes to Editor

About Study USA

For more info about Study USA programme check out the full history

You can hear more about Dr Tony Novosel and his connection with Study USA in this in-depth interview on the Best of Belfast podcast: https://bestofbelfast.org/stories/tony-novosel-american-uncle

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We do this through our work in arts and culture, education, and the English language. We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2022-23 we reached 600 million people.

For more information on current opportunities in Northern Ireland, visit www.nireland.britishcouncil.org or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.