Home / Spring Table of Contents / The Campaign in CSBS
AT HARVARD there's a lot of this kind of money. You want to study abroad but need financial aid? No sweat. Three hundred years of contributions from wealthy donors have built up funds that will help you. Pack your bags.
At UMass it's not so easy. For students who spend a semester or year abroad, tuition costs are the same as what they'd pay for a year on the Amherst campus, and hundreds every year do manage to take advantage of that fact. But for many that big airline ticket, plus the fact that American college students usually can't get work-study or other part-time jobs in foreign countries, can keep the dream of studying abroad from being anything more than a dream.
Twenty-four UMass undergraduates are happy to tell you the financial picture for study abroad is changing, thanks to the Ronald M. Ansin Foundation, its founder Ronald Ansin (who did in fact graduate from Harvard), and his family, particularly his two sons who are UMass alumni, Kenneth Ansin '87 and Robert Ansin '93.
For Ken Ansin, a political science major at UMass, the campus offered a liberal education with a huge variety of extracurricular activities that developed his skills as an entrepreneur and businessman. He's now CEO of the family business, the L.B. Evans Company in Leominster, which manufactures men's slippers and shoes. For Bob, who followed his brother into the political science program, UMass offered all these things plus an education that extended beyond the campus: His junior year, he spent six months in Costa Rica.
"I couldn't have anticipated such an experience of seeing the United States from another country," recalled Bob this spring. "It was similar to being naked, an infant in a new world. I can't think of another time I learned more."
Since then Bob Ansin, who owns a private-venture, e-commerce development company in Fitchburg, has traveled extensively in Latin America and Europe, married a Brazilian, and most important to UMass students who want to follow his educational example helped direct $100,000 from the Ansin family's charitable funds to UMass in the form of fellowships for study abroad. The gift is a perfect fit with the "global citizenship" emphasis within the six-year old College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (CSBS), of which the department of political science is part.
The Ronald M. Ansin Foundation originated years ago as a philanthropic effort by Ken and Bob's father, Ronald, who inherited L.B. Evans from his own dad. The foundation has long made generous contributions to worthy organizations, from Lawrence Academy, where the Ansin children attended prep school, to Youth At The Pops, a huge, central-Massachusetts Fourth-of-July concert and fireworks celebration.
The UMass connection began when Quang Bao, associate director of development for CSBS, approached Ken Ansin, a regular donor to the university's alumni fund, for a further financial contribution. As Bao recalls, "When I started talking with Ken, he mentioned the Ronald M. Ansin Foundation. Then I met with Bob, because he was the one who had studied abroad, and he was very supportive."
The Ansin Foundation offered UMass an initial gift of $20,000, particularly to support programs of study in Europe and Latin America. "We decided to try it for the first year," Bob explained, "and if it was good we'd continue it."
RECEIVING AN ANSIN Fellowship was a personal blessing for me," Kevin Peppard '99 wrote the Ansins last year. As Peppard was planning his year abroad, his father died, and the family had to deal with not only their loss but medical bills that used up the funds saved for Kevin's travel. An Ansin fellowship allowed him to go ahead with his plans to study in Spain last fall and Egypt this spring an experience, he wrote, "that has helped me do away with my own prejudices and ignorance of the world."
Also last fall, an Ansin Fellowship enabled Susanne Rae Enos `00 to undertake what she calls "the most fulfilling, amazing, scary, challenging and rewarding thing I have ever accomplished" studying at the American University of Cairo and immersing herself in a new culture where, she wrote the Ansins last February, "I found myself questioning what I knew about people, myself, my country, religion . . . I grew so much personally, spiritually, and intellectually that I barely recognized myself at the end of it all."
Another Ansin Fellow, Susie Carey `99, spent three months in Ecuador, living with a local family, practicing her Spanish at the dinner table and on the streets of Quito, and volunteering at a center where street children get food and schooling. What Carey enjoyed most was that "most of our learning came through direct interaction with the people and their culture. You hear people say, `Study abroad changed my life,' and it's true." After graduation this spring Carey plans to return to Ecuador, and to resume her work with the children's center.
Not only do these funds help individual students and underwrite an objective of CSBS, they enhance the viability of the entire international study effort at UMass. "We try to do things like this that maximize the potential of a program," observed Ronald Ansin in April, a few days before he visited the Amherst campus to attend a luncheon for the family and fellowship recipients. "But beyond that, we hope to inspire others. That's why I gave them a pledge higher than what they asked."
A higher pledge, and a degree of engagement that should attract other donors. "We try to leverage our own giving," Mr. Ansin explained. "We'll take on something that's new, perhaps something of which the more established foundations haven't seen the merit yet, and then other people will see it and say, `We like this so much that we want to fund it.'"
"This kind of development support is a whole new arm of UMass," added Bob, clearly excited about how his family can use its resources to help UMass students get the kind of experience he found to be the most vital part of his own undergraduate career.
In recent years members of the Ansin family have themselves been honored by awards recognizing their generosity. This year, in a gesture particularly significant in the context of what the Ansin Foundation has done for UMass, Ronald Ansin was awarded the 1999 National Alexis de Tocqueville Award Society for volunteer leadership and extraordinary commitment in helping others. (The other recipients were Senator John Glenn and his wife, Annie Glenn, known for her support of programs devoted to treating speech impairments.)
The award is so named, Mr. Ansin explained, because when de Tocqueville was visiting nineteenth-century America, "He determined that one of the major features of life here is that people in this new country made an effort to help one another." It is especially fitting that an award named for a foreign observer of American society should go to someone making it possible for American students to learn more about themselves and their society by studying overseas. As Susanne Enos put it, "I am thankful to attend a university which encourages and facilitates study abroad. I would not have been able to accomplish this financially were it not for the generous support of people like Mr. Ansin. Something so wonderful should not be limited to those who can afford it."
- John Stifler '92G
DEANS ARE PEOPLE with at least five times as many projects as they have departments. And since the dozen departments within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences were until 1993 a faculty within the former College of Arts and Sciences, among Glen Gordon's projects is developing among faculty and alumni a sense of loyalty "to a unit which did not previously exist."
On the road for his college: Dean Glen Gordon
It's that loyalty that makes planning and growth possible and provides a context for the capital campaign. "I am now on the road with great regularity," Gordon said this year, "persuading graduates of al ages to identify with and contribute to CSBS." As a result, he could report that CSBS had a very good year. Individual giving in the college increased from $274,760 in FY97 to @1,486,355 in FY98, and corporate and foundation giving from $572,096 to $3,954,122. "These are very impressive figures and have allowed us to enrich the curriculum and to provide all sorts of small grants for study-abroad programs and scholarships for excellent students," says Gordon.
The Horowitz Professorship in Latin American Studies, the Gamble Lecture series endowed by Israel Rogosa '42, the launching of a master's program in public policy, and establishment of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) are all highlights of the campaign in the college. No accomplishment appears nearer the dean's heart, however, than being able to support in concrete ways the "global education" of undergraduates in the college, through such means as the Ansin Fellowships described in the accompanying story.
SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES:
anthropology / communication / criminal justice / economics / legal studies / neuroscience and behavior / political science / psychology / public policy / social thought and political economy / sociology