McGregor Fund Grant Supports Ecuador Program
Alma College has received a $250,000 grant from the McGregor Fund
for an innovative program that will expand study, research, internship
and Spanish language opportunities for faculty and students in Ecuador.
The grant supports “Internationalizing the Alma Experience,” a program designed to enhance the emerging partnership between Alma College and Equatorialis University, a recently established English-language private institution in Quito, Ecuador.
“The program targets faculty and curriculum development and will offer opportunities over the next three years for Alma faculty to visit Ecuador, design courses, conduct research, and learn Spanish,” said Alma College President Saundra Tracy.
The Academia Latino Americana in Quito, Ecuador.
Recognizing that language is a major barrier to intercultural cooperation, the
program provides opportunities for as many as one third to one half of
the entire Alma faculty to either learn Spanish or increase their
comfort with Spanish, said Tracy.
“Becoming more proficient in the Spanish language will better prepare our faculty for teaching and research with Ecuadorian students and for work with the increasing number of Spanish-speaking American students who will enter higher education in the coming decades,” said Tracy.
The partnership with Equatorialis University will offer several educational advantages to Alma students, said Alma Provost Michael Selmon.
“All Alma students — those who stay in Michigan as well as those who travel abroad — will benefit from the new educational opportunities that will occur as they encounter the international experiences and perspectives the Ecuadorian collaboration will bring,” said Selmon. “We’re very grateful to the McGregor Fund for helping to make these interactions possible.”
The program has three major components:
• Preparation for International Work. Faculty will participate in a year-long “Spanish for Professors” course taught by Deborah Dougherty, Spanish department chair at Alma, and participate in an “Ecuador seminar,” a weekly faculty discussion group focusing on a particular aspect of Ecuadorian culture.
• Ecuador Curriculum Revision Retreat. Up to 15 Alma faculty per year will participate in a two-week retreat in Ecuador to develop collaborative courses for Alma and Ecuador students. These collaborative ventures may include spring term travel courses or on-campus courses that link students on both campuses via Internet technology. The retreat will include five days of Spanish language instruction and opportunities to travel in Ecuador to explore sites of cultural importance.
• Faculty Research and Student Internship Support. Alma faculty and students will collaborate on research projects based in Ecuador. Internships will allow Alma students to practice their Spanish-speaking skills and gain cultural knowledge by living with host families.
A view of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador.
College has maintained a relationship with the Academia Latino
Americana in Quito for several years, with a number of Alma students
traveling there to develop their Spanish language skills. Earlier this
spring, the Academia’s board of directors expanded educational
offerings there with the creation of Equatorialis University, which
will offer degrees in business administration and environmental science.
Last fall, the government of Ecuador formally accredited Equatorialis University. Also last fall, Alma College officials committed to pursuing an articulation agreement with Equatorialis that will allow qualified students from the Ecuador institution to complete their senior year at the Alma campus.
“In four years we expect 40 to 50 Ecuadorian students to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Tracy. “In a decade, this number could quadruple.
“To ensure the success of this collaboration, we must ensure that Alma is a welcoming environment for international students,” said Tracy. “The McGregor Fund grant will help us create opportunities for meaningful connections between the two campuses before the Quito students come to Michigan.”
The McGregor Fund is a private foundation established in 1925 by gifts from Katherine and Tracy McGregor “to relieve the misfortunes and promote the well-being for mankind.” The foundation awards grants to organizations in the areas of human services, education, health care, arts and culture, and public benefit. The McGregor Fund has granted nearly $180 million since its founding.
Posted: Tue, July 1st, 2008 at 1:18PM