Starting in the fall of 2017, St. Olaf College students will be able to participate in the faculty-led Global Semester — which takes 20 students to six countries around the world — for the same cost as studying on campus. To make this possible, alumni Lynn and Lawrence (Larry) Stranghoener (both of the class of 1976) have established a new endowed fund that will underwrite Global Semester. Its earnings will be matched annually by St. Olaf’s Strategic Initiative Match program.
“The generosity of this gift is matched by its thoughtfulness,” says President David R. Anderson ’74. “This gift ensures the continuity of one of the college’s signature programs. It will enrich the experience of St. Olaf students for generations to come.”
Global Semester is St. Olaf’s longest-standing faculty-led study abroad program. Since 1968 it has taken Oles across Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia to gain insight into global issues. Through interdisciplinary academic coursework and intensive experiential learning, Oles immerse themselves in diverse cultures while gaining perspectives on how to live purposely as globally engaged citizens.
As one of St. Olaf’s most rewarding study programs, Global Semester requires extensive air travel and field excursions, which drive its additional costs. In recent years, total costs per student have ranged from $10,000 to $13,000 above the comprehensive fee, which places Global Semester out of reach for many students. Now the Stranghoener Family Fund will cover this additional cost for students.
The Stranghoener’s inspiration for their gift comes from their own study abroad experiences. Lynn had the chance to study in Avignon, France, and their daughter Rachel ’10 participated in Global Semester, an experience she described as life-changing, in addition to an Interim in Turkey and Greece.
“International travel has long been a part of our personal, academic, and professional lives,” share Larry and Lynn. “We have had global experiences that have shaped our world view and who we are. By supporting Global we hope to encourage students’ development of a global perspective, foster their learning about the world and other cultures, broaden their horizons, and enhance their self-discovery — and give them the joy and occasional frustration of living in close community with other students and professors over the course of a semester.”
International and off-campus study is an integral component of a St. Olaf education. Approximately 72 percent of St. Olaf students study abroad during their years at the college. This strong participation has ranked St. Olaf first among baccalaureate institutions by the number of undergraduates who study abroad, according to the most recent Open Doors 2015 Report on International Educational Exchange. St. Olaf has led this ranking for seven consecutive years.
The Stranghoeners’ gift is part of St. Olaf’s $200 million For the Hill and Beyond comprehensive campaign to raise endowed and annual funding in support of high-impact educational practices such as off-campus study. St. Olaf has raised more than $125 million toward this goal, which also includes funding to support residential learning, affordability and financial aid, and unrestricted gifts in support of St. Olaf’s mission.