Friday, October 26, 2012

Global community center will enhance intercultural experience

Thanks to a generous gift from an alumna and her husband, Randolph College students have a new place to gather and share experiences and perspectives across cultural lines.

On Wednesday the College dedicated the Fitzgerald Global Community Center, a lounge in Bell Hall that is set aside for multicultural activities and discussions. It is situated near the newly designated intercultural floor of Bell Hall, where several students have chosen to live in an environment focused on intercultural connections.
Zara Sibtain ’13, Mike Fitzgerald, Susan Klein, President John E. Klein, Marilyn Fitzgerald ’68,
Carl Girelli, and Jennifer Dugan cut a ribbon to open the Fitzgerald Global Community Center.

The center was made possible by a donation from Marilyn Hicks Fitzgerald ’68 and her husband, Mike, who have been avid supporters of the College’s global studies program for years.

“It’s exciting to join together today to celebrate their latest gift to the college,” President John E. Klein said in the dedication ceremony Thursday. “This center is both a social and an academic resource, and it blends well into Randolph’s Quality Enhancement Plan, ‘Bridges Not Walls.’”

Terry Bodine, assistant dean of students and director of residence life, said that the center contributes to the College’s goal of helping students immerse themselves in a global experience. “Students at Randolph College are strongly encouraged to study abroad,” she said. “However, not every student can study overseas. For those who cannot, Randolph College works intentionally to create opportunities for intercultural exchange right here on campus.”

Marilyn Fitzgerald ’68 visits with Jim Kwon ’14, a student from Korea, in Cheatham
Dining Hall before the dedication of the Fitzgerald Global Community Center.
Jennifer Dugan, a political science professor and head of the College’s Model United Nations program, said the center will provide a place to hold meetings to discuss international issues that come up throughout the year, including lunch hour meetings when international events and questions provoke discussions. “In the international arena, we can’t anticipate what issues, or challenges, crises, or even peace may break out. It’s very nice to know that we can have this environment open to us and be flexible in the ways we come together,” she said.

Marilyn Fitzgerald talked about how living overseas, including a study abroad experiences in college, helped her and her husband develop an appreciation for the world’s many cultures. “When we met each other later in our 20s, our common bond was the fact that we had both studied abroad,” she said.

They developed a passion for helping students to increase their global awareness. Ten years ago, the Fitzgeralds created the Sheldon and Chrystine Hicks Endowed Global Studies Fund. Named in honor of Marilyn’s late parents, the fund makes it possible for Randolph students to travel to the National Model United Nations conference each year.

“We love the new center,” said Marilyn Fitzgerald. “It just makes me want to be a student again.”