Donation from the Frank family will support off-campus programs

by Gigi Grigorian | 5/15/18 2:40am

Study abroad programs are popular with Dartmouth students — and now the College’s “The Call to Lead” capital campaign will provide more financial support for students wishing to participate in these programs. Karen and Jim Frank ’65 and their sons Daniel Frank ’92 and Jordan Frank ’94 have pledged $5 million to support students on financial aid who are studying on off-campus programs. The family also set up a $2.5 million dollar-for-dollar match challenge to encourage additional donations, which could bring in a total of $10 million or more for this cause.

The Frank family gift will be used to create a scholarship fund for qualifying students, but according to executive director of the Frank J. Guarini Institute for International Education John Tansey, the details of how the money will specifically be allocated are still being decided.

“This gift, we expect, will go a long way to fully opening up the [off-campus program] experience to all students,” Tansey said.

While over 55 percent of Dartmouth students study abroad, each year there are students who choose not to apply for off-campus programs out of fear that they will not be able to afford it, according to Tansey. He said there are also students who withdraw from programs after they have been accepted because of financial concerns.

While students’ financial aid packages do apply to off-campus programs, there are often additional costs associated with these programs.

“The financial aid packages here are very good, but sometimes there are gaps,” Tansey said.

Chair of the Spanish and Portuguese department Silvia Spitta said the Frank family’s donation is a “necessary gift.” Spitta noted that there are many students who go on off-campus programs through the Spanish department but who do not have the money to take advantage of the unique opportunities available to them abroad.

According to Tansey, the College’s off-campus programs have a robust set of scheduled activities for students, but there are still “big disparities” in what students of different economic backgrounds are able to do outside of the official program — particularly on the weekends.

For example, Spitta noted how some students could travel to other cities on the weekends and visit cultural attractions like museums and theaters. Other students often have to forgo these opportunities out of financial concerns, she said.

Spitta also said that off-campus programs often involve unexpected costs that can be “onerous” for some students. She cited the example of high baggage fees on international flights as one such “hidden fee.” She added that if a student’s flight is unexpectedly canceled, the student would have to pay for a night in a hotel room, potentially creating a significant financial burden.

To address this concern, Spitta said that for years, faculty across campus have been pressuring the College’s off-campus programs office and the financial aid office to increase the amount of financial aid given to students who participate in off-campus programs.

“By having gifts like this, we can continue to make sure that students have the means to really have a full experience and to participate in the programs in the first place,” Tansey said.

When Jim Frank was a student at the College, he spent a term studying in Spain in 1963, an experience he described as “life-changing.”

“At that time, the world was all about America,” he said. “I had an American point of view of the world. [Studying in Spain] totally changed my perspective on the world in so many different ways.”

Jim Frank’s sons also studied in Europe ­— Daniel in France and Jordan in Spain — during their time at the College. Although Jim Frank noted that “the world is a smaller place today than it was in 1963,” he said that his sons’ experiences still gave them a new perspective of the world.

“I know they both had terrific experiences, and that’s one of the reasons we supported this initiative,” he said. “I think every student should have an experience like that, but certainly what we would like to put Dartmouth in a position to say is that every student who wants to have that experience can have it.”