Ferguson International Center dedication celebrates centuries of IU’s global engagement
May 2, 2023
The Ferguson International Center. Photo by Chris Meyer, Indiana UniversityJust over a decade ago, the American Council on Education published a report that called higher education in the 21st century a “fundamentally global enterprise,” but Indiana University has been focused on global engagement since before the turn of the 20th century.
A new chapter in the university’s international focus began April 28 at the dedication ceremony for the new Stephen L. and Connie J. Ferguson International Center, a 40,000-square-foot building at the corner of Eagleson Avenue and Seventh Street on the IU Bloomington campus.
The Ferguson International Center will serve as the core of international engagement and student activities on campus. It now houses programming and support services for the more than 4,000 IU students who study abroad each year, as well as the university’s more than 7,000 international students and scholars it welcomes to campus at any given time.
From left, IU Board of Trustees Chair Quinn Buckner and IU President Pamela Whitten present Connie J. and Stephen L. Ferguson with a key to the Ferguson International Center and a ceremonial IU CrimsonCard. Photo by Chris Meyer, Indiana University
The new facility will help the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs better support international and intercultural learning, providing space for the more than 100 formal and informal internationally focused student organizations on the Bloomington campus. The center will foster international development, support more than 200 international partnerships, and host academic and government delegations from other countries who regularly visit IU, highlighting IU’s standing as one of the country’s most globally engaged universities.
The dedication ceremony, which was the first building dedication IU President Pamela Whitten has presided over since her tenure began in July 2021, featured remarks from campus leaders, students and the building’s namesakes Steve and Connie Ferguson.
“In bringing together IU staff members who do an outstanding job of supporting the programs that are part of IU’s international engagement mission, the center will allow IU to be more effective in all aspects of that mission,” Whitten said in her remarks. “It will also serve as a welcoming gathering place for the many international visitors who come to IU.”
IU Bloomington Provost Rahul Shrivastav said the dedication felt personal to him as a former IU international student himself. Current international student Sankalp Mohan Sharma, who is from Bangalore, India, shared in his remarks how the Office of International Services helped him overcome the culture shock of coming to the United States and make IU his home away from home. Katie Miles, a senior from Pennsylvania studying Italian and journalism, said the Office of Overseas Study helped her realize her dream of seeing the world. The seven months she spent in Bologna, Italy, inspired her to become a peer advisor in the office, helping other students achieve their education abroad goals.
Stephen and Connie Ferguson pose with student speakers Katie Miles, left, and Sankalp Mohan Sharma, second from right. Photo by Chris Meyer, Indiana University. These students — who will soon join a worldwide network of alumni that includes more than 75,000 international students and over 50,000 with experiences studying overseas — are just two examples of IU’s dedication to global engagement.
“Indiana University is already recognized, nationally and internationally, as a leader in global research and education,” said Hannah Buxbaum, IU vice president for international affairs. “But we are committed to ongoing innovation and acceleration of the international engagement that supports student success and excellence in research, as well as the advancement of our state in an increasingly global environment. The Ferguson International Center is a renewal of IU’s commitment to that work.”
The center was funded, in part, by a $5 million gift from IU alumni Steve and Connie Ferguson.
Steve Ferguson holds a J.D. from the IU Maurer School of Law. In 2018, he was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for his contributions to the university, including 12 years of service as a member, and eventual president, of the IU Board of Trustees. Connie Ferguson earned her bachelor’s degree from IU’s College of Arts and Sciences and is a founding member of the university’s Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council.
Whitten and Quinn Buckner, chair of the IU Board of Trustees, concluded the ceremony by presenting the Fergusons with a key to the building and a ceremonial IU CrimsonCard.