Butler University is nationally recognized for its study abroad programs, and the Center for Global Education continues to expand its offerings. In 2008–2009, Butler offered four faculty-led study abroad programs; this year 32 faculty-led programs are in the works. For those faculty who have a front-row seat to the experiences students are having abroad, the impact is more personal than rankings could ever demonstrate.
Professor of Finance Bill Templeton and Professor of Pharmacy Practice Jane Gervasio ’88, PharmD ’95 each lead short-term study abroad courses and believe so strongly in the value of those global experiences for students that they have each established funds at Butler to help students with financial need to participate.
Templeton leads a course called Leadership London, which takes place over three weeks in May and is open to students of any major. The course includes case studies of leadership issues combined with site visits to enhance the daily reading. Templeton says the experience of standing in the physical locations where the leaders they are studying once stood leaves a lasting impression.
Hannah Ravaris ’24 participated in the course earlier this year and says the immersive nature of the course was unique from any others she has taken at Butler.
“I’m definitely a visual learner so it was really cool to read about Winston Churchill and learn about the history, and then go stand in the Churchill War Rooms and experience what we’re reading about,” Ravaris says.
Leadership London participants have weekends free, and many take advantage of the chance to explore other cities during their stay. Templeton says these experiences are just as valuable as classroom learning for broadening students’ perspectives and gaining cross-cultural understanding.
“One of the beautiful parts of studying abroad is that students gain a deep appreciation of the place they are visiting and the culture, but they simultaneously come to appreciate their home country and culture more deeply as well,” Templeton says. “It’s not one or the other; they learn to appreciate both simultaneously.”
Templeton has been teaching the course in London since 2014, and his wife, Linda, accompanies him. Together, the couple has witnessed the powerful effect studying abroad has on students. As a result, last year they established The Passport Fund, an endowed fund to assist students with study abroad program expenses such as course tuition, fees, or travel.
About seven years ago, Gervasio, too, was inspired to create a short-term study abroad course—one that would be accessible for Pharmacy students whose course schedule conflicts with most study abroad options. Sparked by her own continuing education about nutrition and wellness,
Gervasio created a course that examines the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet and the associated practices of the Tuscany region that foster long-term health. The 10-day course is open to students of any major, while Pharmacy and Health Sciences students also have the option of a Culinary Medicine course.
“As a Pharmacy student, I loved how this experience allowed me to experience a vast diversity of learning opportunities in such a brief trip that didn’t conflict with my course schedule,” says Sarah Abu-Salih ’23, who took the Culinary Medicine course in May.
Templeton and Gervasio are both passionate about increasing access to study abroad experiences for students through both thoughtful scheduling of courses and their own philanthropic giving. Gervasio also recently established an endowed fund to support Pharmacy and Health Sciences students studying abroad.
“The biggest heartbreak I have is when a student tells me they can’t afford it,” Gervasio says. “To me, the immersive experience of a study abroad course means that the learning doesn’t stop when the class ends, so these global experiences are incredibly valuable. When this was presented to me as a giving opportunity, I thought, ‘Yes, this is something I can get behind.’”
University leadership is also focused on removing barriers to global experiences to ensure any Butler student who wants to study abroad has the chance. Those who have had the opportunity say it’s one they will cherish for a lifetime.
“[Studying abroad] wasn’t just one of the pinnacles of my time in college; it was one of the pinnacles of my life,” Abu- Salih says.