By Drew Davis, The Daily Iowan
Officials said University of Iowa programs and individuals are becoming more active in encouraging students to travel abroad and form a global perspective.
And at a “WorldCanvass” event Nov. 12, Mary Jo and Richard Stanley received the first-ever International Impact Award for helping the UI do just that.
The presentation of the award is the kickoff for this year’s International Education Week celebration.
“It’s a great honor and a very humbling thing,” Richard Stanley said. “We are both very happy to receive this award.”
The Stanley-University of Iowa Foundation has contributed more than $2 million to various international scholarships, global travel, and other international groups over the past five years.
The monthly “WorldCanvass” forums bring in students from around the world to discuss and explore international topics.
Before the Stanleys were recognized, UI President Sally Mason spoke to the audience in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber, focusing on the importance of international perspectives.
“The University of Iowa is locally connected and internationally aware institution,” she said. “It has always been an hallmark of our academic excellence.”
Richard Stanley, a Muscatine native and former Iowa State and UI student, is chairman emeritus of the Stanley Group, which provides engineering and construction services across the globe.
Stanley said both he and his wife have donated to international outreach programs for many years.
“We have been encouragers of the programs’ international activities,” said Richard Stanley. “Some of it has been financial through our foundation at Iowa; others have been implementing programs that are internationally focused.”
The rest of the week will also feature other presentations about international research and study, including returning Peace Corps volunteers and students who have studied abroad sharing their stories and a presentation about funding for research abroad.
UI professors said their students have been involved in such projects and look forward to more opportunities.
Connie Trowbridge, an assistant clinical professor of nursing, said she feels the effect of international work.
“The projects are tremendous. It’s really hard to capture it in few words,” she said. “The project involves relationship-building; it’s about sustainable projects and having that first experience in that other country that will be the beginning of a lifelong journey.”
Trowbridge works with many nursing students to organize projects during their time abroad. In a semester-long course, she helps students develop and design an idea, then implement it abroad.
The group of nursing students will try to continue the project for many more years, and the members look forward to opening student eyes.
Such projects across all departments and donors such as Richard and Mary Jo Stanley, continue to strengthen international outreach efforts, said “WorldCanvass” coordinator Joan Kjaer.
“It is a matter of appreciation for other cultures and being open to others of another country,” Richard Stanley said. “You don’t have to put a value judgment on different things and different ways.”