College will use Lilly grant for new center
By MOLLY McVOY
Saint Mary's Editor
A $12 million grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. will allow Saint Mary's to create an intercultural center unlike any center in existence in the United States.
The center, named the International Center for Women's InterCultural Leadership, will focus on understanding how cultures relate to one another and how to prepare women to lead in that kind of environment.
"One of our goals is that women of all cultures can step into leadership roles once they leave Saint Mary's," said Marilou Eldred, College president.
The five-year grant will be used to offer the College opportunities to study the relationships between cultures and increase the awareness of all cultures on the campus, said Mana Derakhshani, a French professor and a member of the committee that wrote the grant proposal.
"I think intercultural studies is something needed in higher education in general," Derakhshani said. "Given the fact that Saint Mary's is doing such an excellent job at developing women leaders, if we could add something to what we already do well, it could put Saint Mary's on the leading edge nationally in educating women and in education in general."
The College will bring in national and international fellows as part of the center. Both Eldred and Derakhshani expect that the fellows will offer classes and seminars in a wide variety of disciplines that will explore intercultural issues. In addition, summer seminars for members of the College and the community will be available as a result of the grant.
"What I'm hoping this grant will do is bring people to this campus — scholars, community leaders and students — who are interested in intercultural studies," Derakhshani said.
In addition to seminars, the College has proposed an intercultural leadership residence as a part of the center. According to Derakhshani, this would involve dedicating a floor of one of the residence halls to a study in intercultural living.
"What the residence would be is basically an experiment in planned intercultural living," she said.
This residence area which will be up and running in the 2002-2003 school year at the earliest, would involve a planned mix of students from different cultures. A resident director would be chosen specifically for the floor and part of her job would be the facilitation of discussion between the women living on the floor.
"One of the best things we'll do for students with this center is to enhance the dialogues about all cultures," Eldred said.
The grant will also allow the College to send students and faculty abroad to investigate intercultural questions and step into the community of South Bend to understand those issues. Derakhshani hopes that involvement in the community will include issues of health care, the arts and community planning.
"Contact with community members is going to be very fruitful," she said. "It's going to help prepare students to be leaders in a world that is becoming more and more intercultural."
The faculty will be electing an advisory committee today that will, as part of their responsibility, look for a director for the Center. Eldred hopes that the director will be hired and in place by this summer.
All News Stories for Wednesday, January 17, 2001