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Hollins Receives $1 Million Gift to Strengthen Study Abroad Program

Hollins University alumna and trustee Jean Hall Rutherfoord and her husband, Thomas, have made a gift of $1 million to support Hollins’ study abroad program in Paris.

This endowed fund will pay the salary and benefits for what will now be called the Rutherfoord Director of the Hollins Abroad Paris Program.

"For more than fifty years, Hollins has been nationally recognized for the quality of our study abroad programs," says Hollins President Nancy Gray. "This generous gift will help ensure our Paris program has strong, forward-thinking leadership for years to come and provides the best possible experience for our students, both academically and personally."

Established in 1955, Hollins Abroad Paris was one of the first international study programs in the country. The semester-long curriculum combines classes, field trips in and around Paris, guided group excursions to other regions of France, and special academic options to provide a comprehensive cultural experience. Its offices are located near the Sorbonne (where many of the program’s faculty have studied or taught) in the center of Parisian intellectual and artistic life.

"Study abroad allows our students to gain first-hand, in-depth knowledge of another culture, see the world from a new perspective, and develop intercultural skills that help them succeed in today’s global society," Gray explains.

Jeannie and Tom Rutherfoord are both originally from Roanoke and now make their home in Washington, D.C. Jeannie graduated from Hollins in 1974 and says her semester abroad in Paris during her college years had a profound impact on her that continues to resonate today.

"I studied French at Hollins and the opportunity to immerse myself in French culture solidified my ability to speak the language, which continues to be invaluable to me," she says, noting that she works closely with the Washington, D.C. council of the French Heritage Society, a private foundation dedicated to preserving French architecture in the United States and France. Another reason she cherishes her semester overseas is because "I gained my best friends in life while I was studying abroad."

Last year, Jeannie Rutherfoord returned to Paris to visit the program and says she remains as impressed as ever. "This program is truly one of the best in the United States. I love its continuity, its setting, and the positive atmosphere it fosters. I am thrilled that Tom and I can offer this gift to help keep it flourishing."

The Rutherfoords are such proponents of Hollins Abroad Paris that they have convinced their son, who is currently a student at another college, to enroll in the program during the fall of 2010. "One of the great things about study abroad at Hollins is that students from other colleges, both female and male, can take advantage of it," Jeannie explains. "It meant the world to me and I am thrilled our son will be able to enjoy the same experience."

For more information about Hollins Abroad Paris, visit www.hollins.edu/abroad/paris/index/shtml.