Leahy ’61 directs federal funds to Center for Global Engagement

March 30, 2022
Faculty/staff report

A new Center for Global Engagement at Saint Michael’s College is set to receive $400,000 in federal funding from the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, signed on March 15.

The support, championed by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT ’61, will help to expand student international internship opportunities to Europe and Latin America. It also will pay for programming on international issues and cover operating costs for the Center.


Professor Jeffrey Ayres

The funds are among several of Leahy’s Congressionally Directed Spending requests, which allow a senator to direct federal money for projects in his or her home state. Leahy, as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, restored Congressionally Directed Spending to the 12 annual Appropriations bills that fund the federal government and headed the writing of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

The Center’s Director Jeffrey Ayres of the political science/international relations faculty said the Center’s mission is to provide a wide array of opportunities to celebrate global citizenship and actively engage in a global community. Ayres said the Center would serve as the collaborative hub of international activity at Saint Michael’s College, promoting global learning and literacy, deepening inter-cultural competency and inclusion, and supporting opportunities for global engagement for students, faculty, staff, alumni and local community members.

The Center’s web page describes specific initiatives within its mission, including:

  • Semester-long, summer and faculty-led academic study abroad programs
  • International in-person and virtual internships that advance career readiness
  • Scholarships such as the Fulbright, Pickering, Marshall, Ford, Boren and critical language programs
  • A Peace Corps Prep program building on a long record of alumni participation in the Peace Corps
  • An internationalization grant program that supports student activities and campus programming
  • Raising awareness of internationally-oriented student clubs, campus programming and a curriculum that includes a variety of globally-themed majors and minors
  • Assisting new and continuing international students with immigration and visa concerns, and providing support and assistance in engaging with the campus community and to adjusting to life in the United States
  • Complement support already given to the College by the Freeman Foundation for in-person internships in Asia

President Lorraine Sterritt

Saint Michael’s President Lorraine Sterritt said the College “is deeply honored to be a recipient of this Appropriation, which will allow us to continue the very relevant and important work of our new Center for Global Engagement. We truly appreciate Senator Leahy’s support. Angela Irvine spearheaded the effort to secure these funds on behalf of the College, and we’re so grateful for the excellent relationship Angela and the Institutional Advancement team has maintained with Senator Leahy’s office.” Irvine is the College’s director of foundation relations and sponsored programs.

Ayres said the funding support secured by Leahy “will strengthen the Center for Global Engagement as a pillar of the College’s new strategic plan and expand programs for global engagement to support the academic success, personal and professional growth and career readiness especially of our students.”

In her application for these funds, Angela Irvine, the College’s director of foundation relations and sponsored programs, explained why Saint Michael’s sought this support:

“Global citizenship and literacy and inter-cultural competency are essential 21st Century educational and workforce skill-sets,” she wrote, “and living thoughtfully in this increasingly multicultural and globalized world demands critical engagement with varied perspectives and complex phenomena … global competence is one of the most important career skills in the 21st Century economy.”


Sen. Patrick Leahy ’61

“I am so glad to have been able to secure federal funding for Saint Michael’s College to establish the Center for Global Engagement in the FY22 Omnibus Appropriations Act,” Leahy said. “Since my time at Saint Michael’s, the College has shown a strong commitment to fostering cultural understanding for Vermont students. This project will provide opportunities for meaningful global citizenship skillsets development and allow graduates to participate in the growing global workforce.”

Center Director Jeffrey Ayres, in drafting up the initial proposal, focused on three specific justifications for the spending request to support the Center:

1) promoting critical 21st century skillsets of global literacy, cross-cultural understanding and inter-cultural competency for the Vermont workforce and residents;

2) attracting and supporting international students to promote Vermont’s “soft power” and brand and reverse huge economic losses associated with drop in international student population in the United States; and

3) providing outreach and mentoring for Vermont’s growing refugee and New American community, supporting pathways to educational attainment to bolster education level and diversity of workforce.

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