Goshen News, Goshen, IN

October 26, 2006

‘Intercultural’ center planned at Goshen College

By Justin Cripe

Goshen College officials unveiled a comprehensive plan Wednesday to better educate and prepare all students for living and learning in a multicultural society.

The program will be funded by the largest grant ever given solely to Goshen College, a $12.5 million grant courtesy of Lilly Endowment.

GC President James E. Brenneman said the Center for Intercultural Teaching and Learning at Goshen College will focus on three main objectives:

• Researching the resources and challenges that changing demographics bring to a rural Midwest community and to higher education.

• Creating an intercultural learning environment to benefit all students.

• Strengthening current efforts in recruiting and retaining regional Latino and other minority students.

Brenneman said the new center will build on the college’s academic strengths, core values and its experience in international education, enhancing his idea of a “thought lab.”

According to information provided by the college, the minority enrollment in Goshen public schools has grown from 8 percent to 41 percent since 1990. Minority enrollment in Indiana’s public schools has grown almost 9 percent in the same time period.

However, minority enrollment in Indiana’s colleges has increased only 2 percent in the same time period. This new initiative is designed to help Goshen College bridge that gap.

“The globe has shrunk,” Brenneman said.

Brenneman said approximately 20 percent of the student body at GC is international students. However, with the new program, hopefully the school can bridge the gap between the percentage of minorities in the college and the percentage of minorities in the community, he said.

“If we can reflect the community, that is a good goal to reach,” Brenneman said.

Jim Alvarez, a 1984 graduate of Goshen College who also was the director of the Family Business program from 2004-06, said the new program is a great benefit to the college.

“I am truly very happy and excited about this initiative,” Alvarez said. “This is an extraordinary example of local community members working together.”

Brenneman said a team of people is looking to fill the position of director as soon as possible. The program itself should be in place by the fall of 2007, providing cultural programming for the campus, addressing student support services and offering opportunities for current faculty to learn Spanish.

Other possibilities include collaborative faculty-student research, a “bridge” program to assist minority students in preparation for college, partnerships with other colleges and universities and the local public schools, recruitment of Latino and other minority faculty and assessment of the college’s academic curriculum.

Brenneman said there will be no new building projects in the immediate future, but some space may be renovated in order to accommodate the new program.

Respond: (574) 533-2151, ext. 316

justin.cripe@goshennews.com