Transformative gifts propel Colgate’s strategic internationalization

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20130826_orientation_03_508.JPGWhen Colgate’s founders carved the Academic Quad out of a Chenango Valley forest, central New York was on the edge of the frontier.

Today, Colgate is in the middle of everywhere, and a new series of gifts is powering the university’s commitment to international engagement, as envisioned in the 2014–2019 strategic plan.

Ed ’62 and Robin Lampert P’10, whose generosity founded the Lampert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs at Colgate, have made a $2.5 million commitment to further internationalization, including a specific focus on building global partnerships in five regions of the world: Africa, East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and South and Central America.

The Lamperts have also offered another $2.5 million in funds to match additional gifts made by other members of the Colgate community. The overall effort will yield $7.5 million for a growing number of international initiatives.

“We know how important it is for students to be engaged in international affairs and we are delighted to support Colgate’s global initiatives,” Ed and Robin Lampert said. “The opportunities afforded students will expand their academic experience and provide an important foundation for their future lives beyond the campus.”

Andrew Sweet ’93, a veteran of Colgate’s Japan Study Group, has made the first matching gift of $500,000.

“Thanks to Professor Yoichi Aizawa, my experience in Japan lit the fire of my curiosity to explore other cultures and ultimately led me on the path of my career in international business, which often involves dealing with cultural complexity,” Sweet said. “It is rewarding for me every day, and I hope to see Colgate students enjoy their own experiences.”

This transformative gift and matching effort triggered the university to launch the Center for International Programs, a renovated space in McGregory Hall on the Academic Quad to be completed this summer.

President Jeffrey Herbst made the announcement before Shimon Peres, former prime minister and president of Israel, took the stage at one of Colgate’s most recognized international events, the Kerschner Family Series Global Leaders at Colgate, on Saturday, October 25.

“Internationalization is a top academic priority in our strategic plan,” Herbst said. “Direct engagement with diverse cultures provides invaluable preparation for success in our ever-shrinking world — and that is the core mission of this university.”

The center, headed by economics professor and newly appointed Associate Dean of the Faculty for International Initiatives Nicole Simpson, will become the home for Colgate’s Office of Off-Campus Study and for the Lampert Institute. It will be the hub for all of the university’s numerous international outreach programs, including student and faculty exchange programs.

As resources grow, the university will launch a global partners program to establish relationships with institutions in non-Western regions, paralleling the university’s already strong connections in Europe and Australia. Already this semester, Colgate has signed exchange agreements with Korea’s Yonsei University and China’s Xiamen University.

“Transformative gifts are allowing us to deepen these strategic partnerships,” Simpson said. “As a result, we will expand our capacity to connect students and faculty with a complex world — especially non-Western regions that are playing increasingly pivotal roles in geopolitics.”

The center’s home in McGregory Hall will feature state-of-the art classroom space and videoconferencing technology to facilitate conversations between professors and students, whether they are on campus or elsewhere around the world.

Expanded funding for the Lampert Institute will encourage research partnerships between Colgate professors and their colleagues abroad. The institute will continue to focus on a specific theme each year and sponsor a series of lectures to help the university community engage in focused conversations on important public issues. Further support will also flow to the Lampert Fellowship program, which already has an impressive track record of funding innovative, independent student research under the mentorship of faculty members.

“The Center for International Programs builds on our tradition of study groups, faculty strengths, and alumni connections around the world,” said Douglas Hicks, provost and dean of the faculty. “The generosity of Ed and Robin Lampert, Andrew Sweet, and others who join in this initiative will propel our global programs and partnerships in the years ahead.”