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Citizens of the World

Enhancing global engagement opportunities for students and faculty is the core mission of Salem State’s Center for International Education (CIE).

In 2020, when international education and study abroad experiences were largely suspended due to pandemic restrictions, Collaborative Online International Learning (better known as COIL) was piloted to sustain these cultural opportunities, connecting students and professors in different countries as part of their coursework.

But as travel restrictions began to lift, Salem State’s faculty-led study travel courses gained popularity as a short-term, innovative and affordable alternative to traditional study abroad, which is not always feasible for students. Faculty-led study travel courses typically span seven to ten days with faculty coordinators partnering with local resources to lead small groups, allowing for maximum cultural interaction, informed perspective and introspection. With their desire to have more Salem State students participate in culturally immersive experiences, Francis Hunkins ’60 and his wife, Patricia Hammill, decided to turn dreams into reality.

“Salem State has ties to my heart,” says Francis. “We hope supporting COIL and faculty-led study travel courses will enable Salem State students to follow their dreams.”

Avid world travelers and former visiting scholars, Francis and Patricia are retired professors of higher education who have explored the globe many times. From riding elephants in the Himalayas to paddling a dugout canoe down a river, both located in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, they stress that these memories of the recent past are still sharp in their minds.

Francis and Patricia recall, “We were on a budget when we often traveled. Because of that, we had very authentic cultural experiences in Nepal, India, Australia, New Zealand, China, Europe, Africa, and South America, in addition to traveling extensively throughout the United States and Canada. Standing on the corner, you get an education just from interacting with locals. This is why we wanted to contribute to Salem State, because we know that students can experience life-changing opportunities through these types of programs.”

“The idea that your education is continuing to unfold over the course of your life is very powerful. Learning and making connections with people around the world, those enriching experiences become the fabric of your life,” says Patricia.

The university recently secured an additional $90,000 grant from the US State Department via the Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program to expand COIL and faculty-led study travel courses. This was due to Francis and Patricia’s generosity, part of which was required for Salem State to qualify for the matching funds.

C. Julie Whitlow, vice provost for faculty and global engagement, notes, “For this academic year, there are nine faculty-led study travel courses planned and PELL eligible student travelers will receive stipends from Francis and Patricia’s fund. Faculty will also receive a stipend that will help compensate them for the time spent preparing and leading travel courses.”

Francis is grateful for the foundation Salem State laid for his career in education. “The quality of education I received way back when enabled me to make a small difference in the continued excellence of the university. I’ve been impacted by Salem State in ways that I never anticipated, and I want to pay it forward.”

Alumni Relations
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