“Dr. Finkel has fundamentally shaped, and indeed created, much of the international programs structures on the IU Southeast campus.”
—Jean Abshire, director of international programs and assistant professor of political science,
John W. Ryan Award for Distinguished
Contributions to International Programs and Studies
Eight years ago, access to global education at IU Southeast was limited to little more than a minor in international studies. Today, students can major in international studies, hear about women’s issues in the Muslim world and other global perspectives during a monthly lecture series and learn about other cultures during International Festival Week. The difference? Deborah Finkel and her commitment to bring students and the community into the global dialogue.
In conjunction with the International Studies Advisory Committee, Finkel proposed a new position to oversee international efforts at IU Southeast. In 1996, the faculty senate approved and asked Finkel to take the committee’s helm. During the six fast-paced years of her tenure as director, from 1996 to 2002, she transformed the campus’s academic and community programs.
To help students and the community stay current with the university’s international programs and events, Finkel created the international studies Web site, complete with a calendar of each semester’s events, which is also mailed to 1,000 area businesses and individuals. The International Directory, modeled on that of IU South Bend and also developed by Finkel to aid with fund-raising, cites information about the university’s international programs and international affiliations and activities of the faculty.
“As you might expect, Southern Indiana has not historically been a hotbed of internationalism,” noted Lynn Lewis, president of Clarksville Sister Cities Association, “but the leadership that Debbie Finkel has exhibited has begun to change that. Her work both at IU Southeast and in the community has been instrumental in a broadening of attitudes and an acceptance of diversity.”
In addition to her roles as professor, director of international programs, and, from 2002 to 2003, president of the faculty senate, Finkel still remains active in her own research, behavioral genetics. She’s currently participating in the Swedish Adoption/Twin Study on Aging at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm—only the second researcher since its inception in 1984 to be invited to join the research team.