Sutton Looks to Expand Dean Rusk Program in 2001-02 as Interim Director
July 6, 2001
Though his term of service is officially "interim," Professor Homer Sutton '71 has no intention of simply maintaining a warm chair for the next director of the Dean Rusk Program in International Studies.
Sutton, a French professor whose global horizon first expanded as a JYA Montpellier student, has steadfastly promoted international awareness since joining Davidson's faculty in 1980. He served on the committee that designed the Dean Rusk Program for its launch in 1984, was coordinator of study abroad from 1984-1994, and co-chaired the 1996 Task Force on International Students.
Those credentials make him the perfect temporary replacement for Ambassador Kenneth Brown, the director for the past six years who left last spring to become president of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training in Arlington, Va.
Sutton has agreed to serve for a year, and will organize the search for a permanent director. He said he accepted the challenge because of the opportunity to affect Davidson's strong international initiatives, and because he'll still be able to teach one course in his home department. In addition, he is experienced as a college fill-in, having served as interim director of admission and financial aid in 1991-92. "I'm beginning to feel like institutional duct tape!" he joked.
Sutton's ambition extends beyond necessary program maintenance such as scheduling speakers for the year, organizing the program's Student Advisory Committee, and managing the grants for student travel and study abroad. He aspires to new initiatives such as broadening the scope of the program's outreach to Charlotte, and initiating a new "Languages Across the Curriculum" program. "I think the Dean Rusk Program should include curricular projects to internationalize our existing offerings," he said. "The 'Languages Across the Curriculum' program will mainstream language skills, and encourage students to use their foreign language skills in their chosen discipline."
The program, which will probably begin in the 2002-2003 school year, would give students some academic credit in their major or minor if in a foreign language and a certificate for studying a subject in a foreign language for one hour per week. It would require the cooperation of professors to teach their areas of interest in a foreign language or for foreign language professors to work with their colleagues in other disciplines. For example, art historian C. Shaw Smith Jr., who is fluent in French, could teach a group of students about Monet in French an extra hour outside of the regular class.
Sutton also wants to involve more Charlotteans in the Dean Rusk Program by restructuring its "corporate affiliates" program. He will broaden it to invite Davidson alumni to events, and restructure it from a breakfast gathering to a lunch gathering. The corporate affiliates program in the past has allowed Charlotte business leaders to hear from prominent international speakers in conjunction with their visits to campus.
He also wants to bring more Visiting Fulbright Lecturers from other countries to speak on campus during their stays in America, and is hoping to organize Spanish language classes for faculty and staff, since Spanish is becoming such an important means of communication in America.
Much of his effort will be directed toward ongoing programs, such as finding and booking speakers who can bring a world-wide perspective to campus. He plans to focus on human rights and globalization this fall, and has already lined up Kevin Bales, author of Disposable People, and Davidson native Will Coley, a Reebok Human Rights Award winner for his work with foreign detainees in this country, for September. He'll also maintain the Dean Rusk Program's extraordinary impetus of awarding about $80,000 per year in grants to students for foreign study. He wants to expand the number of events where recipients of those funds can share their experiences with other students and community members upon their return.
Sutton also noted that alumni can offer a great deal of experience and support to assist the 65 percent of Davidson students who travel abroad during their college years. With that in mind, he will spend time updating the program's database of alumni working abroad, and those in the US who have international responsibilities. He can already cite one successful instance of bringing alumni and students together. Joanna Johnson '97, marketing coordinator for the Council on International Education Exchange, helped five students obtain work permits in foreign countries for their travel this summer. "For our adventurous students, working in another country can be a fabulous, challenging experience," Sutton said. "I heard already from Adam Chalker '04, who is working this summer at a stationery shop in Paris. He said it's not always easy, but that his French vocabulary for office supplies is absolutely astounding!"
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,600 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine. Davidson is currently engaged in "Let Learning Be Cherished," a $250 million campaign in support of student financial assistance, academic resources, and community life.