As Dr. Sarah Stevenson, director of St. Thomas' International Education Center, prepares for retirement this month, she leaves an enviable legacy. Under her leadership, the university has ranked among the nation's leaders in study-abroad participation rates for nearly a decade.
Stevenson founded the center in 1983. Before then, most students who studied abroad did so with the assistance of the Foreign Languages Department. Currently about 1,000 St. Thomas students study abroad each year, earning St. Thomas a top-five spot nationally among doctoral and research institutions for participation rate.
Nearly six in 10 graduating seniors now study abroad in yearlong, semester or January Term programs. And all of this doesn’t even touch on the number of international students Stevenson has recruited to St. Thomas.
The International Education Center hosted a farewell for Stevenson May 17, when Father Dennis Dease, president, presented her with a plaque that will hang in the entry of the center. It reads: “Dr. Sarah A. Stevenson founded the International Education Center in 1983. Over the next 27 years, until retirement in 2010, she saw over 13,200 University of St. Thomas students study abroad and welcomed to campus more than 2,000 as international students. Her leadership and service have embodied the goals of the university’s Vision Statement: '… to be a recognized leader in Catholic higher education that excels in effective teaching, active learning, scholarly research and responsible engagement with the local community as well as with the national and global communities in which we live.'”
The International Education Center staff has established a scholarship in Stevenson’s name and invites the St. Thomas community to contribute. The scholarship will support both incoming international and outbound study-abroad students. International Education hopes the fund can be endowed.
Contributions can be given online (the option of contributing to the Sarah Stevenson Scholarship appears on the second page) or checks can be sent to Jennifer O’Brien, Mail #DEV.