If you want create a buzz among hornets, just ask "K" alumni for their foreign study memories.
We did just that to help celebrate the program's 50th birthday last fall, and the response was tremendous. Even though hundreds of varied alumni recollections were shared in College publications and Homecoming conversations, a common thread in many was the influence of the program's founding fathers.
For the program's first thirty-plus years, Professor of English Richard Stavig and Professor of German Joe Fugate oversaw its implementation and development and touched the lives of thousands of students in the process.
Stavig joined the Kalamazoo College English faculty in 1955. He helped select the first 25 students to go overseas in the summer of 1958, and--by virtue of his Fulbright Lectureship at Heidelberg University that year--he was chosen to accompany them to their destinations before settling in Germany for his sabbatical.
The program took hold. Stavig was named foreign study director in 1959, and he continued to accompany students on the summer program. With the implementation of the "K-Plan" in 1962 the foreign study expanded to additional sites in Germany, France, Spain, and Africa. Once again Stavig became an expat in Europe to oversee the progress of the expansion in its first year. His wife LaVonne and daughters Jofrid and Kaia '79 joined him, and they, too, played a role in the early days of the program.
As the program expanded throughout the 1960s and 70s, Stavig continued traveling to and from Europe. Eighty-six ocean crossings later and with some occasional pain from "suitcase elbow," Stavig passed the study abroad torch to Dr. Fugate in 1974 and returned to full-time teaching in the English department until his retirement in 1991.
Fugate had joined the German department in 1961. He spent the 1963-1964 academic year in Europe overseeing the foreign study program. In 1964 he was named assistant director of foreign study, and he served in that post until the 1974 passing-of-the-torch from Stavig. Throughout his nearly three decades with the program, during which it was re-christened "study abroad," Fugate helped grow its participation rates and international reputation.
Fugate's famous for entreating students to "learn to live with uncertainty" while abroad, and he took great satisfaction in witnessing such living's transformation of students, which not only affected their return to campus but also their lives thereafter. His knack at cultivating personal relationships with students was his trademark. Each year he made a point of learning each student's name during the study abroad summer orientation program, and he still continues
For their longevity with the program and for their hands-on approach to working with students and colleagues, both men are a part of cherished memories for countless alumni.a lively correspondence with many alumni.
By the end of his tenure as director, Fugate was a nationally renowned expert on student study abroad programs and a friend to many throughout the world. The Federal Republic of Germany bestowed the Verdienstkreuz erster Klasse; the Republic of France appointed him Chevalier dans l'Ordre de Palmes Académique; and the City of Caen awarded him its Grande Medaille de la Ville de Caen. Fugate stepped down from his role as director in 1992 and returned teaching German until his retirement.
For their longevity with the program and for their hands-on approach to working with students and colleagues, both men are a part of cherished memories for countless alumni. We know because we asked alumni to share those memories. At Homecoming last fall, Stavig and Fugate had the opportunity to reconnect with many of their former students. On that occasion the two directors emeritus, along with eight emeriti resident directors, were honored for all their work on behalf of study abroad at Kalamazoo College, which, for many, redefined the meaning of home coming.
Photo: Drs. Fugate and Stavig pose with Arnie '72 and Marti '72 Campbell at the 50th Anniversary of Study Abroad Convocation, October 2008.