McCulloch Center: Ten years of global success.

By Julia Ferrante and Emily Harrison Weir

A decade ago this year, Mount Holyoke College founded the Dorothy R. and Norman E. McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives to deepen students’ “global competence” and to integrate international education throughout their college experience.

Since then, the McCulloch Center has evolved into a leader in the field, weaving global education into the fabric of the curriculum in partnership with faculty, administration, alumnae, foundations, and organizations around the world.

Related: The McCulloch Center's Tenth Anniversary brochure

The center offers students opportunities for immersion in other cultures through study abroad, internships, and research, and it promotes cross-disciplinary engagement with international, global, and comparative perspectives, notes Eva Paus, Carol Hoffmann Collins Director of the McCulloch Center and professor of economics.

“The core mission guiding all of our initiatives is to prepare students for active and impactful participation in a global world,” Paus says.

The impact of the McCulloch Center has been far-reaching. Over the past decade, the number of international students on campus has nearly doubled, and more than 2,600 students have studied abroad. More than 2,000 students have worked, interned, volunteered, or conducted research abroad during the summer. And by leveraging the connections of faculty, alumnae, and friends of the College, the center has established 32 partnerships through the International Internship Program.

President Lynn Pasquerella notes that, “In a globally interdependent world, engendering cultural competence through liberal education is more important than ever before.”

“The McCulloch Center plays a leadership role in helping students understand what it is like to be in the shoes of another different from oneself, in promoting academic excellence, and fostering the next generation of women leaders,” Pasquerella says.

Several events are planned to mark the McCulloch Center’s tenth anniversary, including a public talk by Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, the 2014 Carol Hoffmann Collins Global Scholar-in-Residence. The lecture, titled “Women’s Leadership: Ending Wars and Building Peace,” is slated for October 23 at 7 pm in the Art Building’s Gamble Auditorium. It also will be livestreamed.

Visionary support made the center possible.

Mount Holyoke was a trendsetter in 2004 when it established the McCulloch Center, says Paus, noting that other institutions followed the College’s lead. Internationalization had long been an important component of Mount Holyoke, but efforts to integrate international and comparative perspectives throughout the College became centralized when the center was created.

Named for Dorothy R. “Dotty” McCulloch ’50 and her husband, Norman E. “Sandy” McCulloch, Jr., Mount Holyoke’s global initiatives center recognized the importance of the College’s commitment to internationalization on campus. The McCullochs, who worked with the College for several years to create a vision for the center, have provided opportunities for students to enhance their education through global experiences by helping to establish centers at their respective alma maters and in their home state of Rhode Island. The couple’s dedication to global studies, a longtime priority of their philanthropy, was inspired primarily by their time in France, where they met during their junior year abroad.

“Our initial gift in the 1990s was to have a student spend a semester or year abroad, but our commitment has expanded, and it continues,” Dotty McCulloch said. “We wanted to have a visible center on campus, and that has happened. What gives me such joy are the fabulous letters we receive from students. The experience of living in another country is so meaningful. We have said many times, ‘Thank God we did this.’ ”

The McCullochs’ efforts crystalized the work of early international supporters including Carol Hoffmann Collins ’63. She gave the first in a series of major gifts in 2000, creating a fund for interdisciplinary and international programming that forms an important part of the McCulloch Center’s current work. Her continuing support is also reflected in the center’s directorship and the Global Scholar-in-Residence Program; both bear her name. Collins recently made another investment in global education at MHC by creating the Carol Hoffmann Collins Chair in International Studies, which currently is held by Professor of International Relations Jon Western.

Collins says her Mount Holyoke education as a history and political science major made her sensitive to global issues, and international travel solidified that commitment.

“Living in England, I was surprised at the level of disinterest and lack of knowledge of international issues in the United States,” Collins said. “I felt there were not enough people paying attention to what was going on in the world.”

The McCulloch Center aims to change all that.

Note: The second article in our two-part series on the McCulloch Center's anniversary features stories about the center’s impact on students and faculty.