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Croft Institute Celebrates 25 Years of Educating Global Citizens

By Clara Turnage

University of Mississippi

The Croft Institute for International Studies at the University of Mississippi is celebrating 25 years of educating global citizens. The institute, formed in 1998 with a $60 million donation from the Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund, emphasizes language learning and an international view of the world. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The Croft Institute for International Studies will host an anniversary ceremony this month along with a reception and tailgate for alumni and students in honor of its 25th anniversary. 

The celebration will begin at 2:30 p.m. March 24 in Croft Institute, Room 107 in a formal ceremony with alumni, students, donors, University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce and Provost Noel E. Wilkin. A reception follows at 6 p.m. at the University of Mississippi Museum.

On Saturday, the Croft Institute porch will be open at 11 a.m. for a tailgate before the Ole Miss Rebels baseball team takes on the Florida Gators. 

Croft also will host a faculty panel on “Global Citizenship in an Age of Migration” at 5:30 p.m. March 21 in the Joseph C. Bancroft Conference Room. The lecture is free and open to the public. For information relating to a disability, call 662-915-1500 or email croft@olemiss.edu

Since the institute’s inception in 1998, 683 Croft students have graduated with a bachelor’s degree in international studies, studied abroad in 51 countries and learned 16 languages. Croft students also earned 82 Taylor Medals, the university’s highest academic honor. 

“There are very few places like the Croft Institute in the United States or anywhere,” said Oliver Dinius, executive director. “The institute offers a student-focused interdisciplinary program with a strong emphasis on language learning. That emphasis is at the heart of Croft’s mission.” 

Chase Young, academic counselor at the institute, said Croft was formed at a time when Mississippi was not competing on a global stage. Creating a hub of international studies in the Deep South was both a gamble and an opportunity for the state. 

“The world gets more and more complicated and connected every day,” he said. “We’re no longer allowed to exist in our own corner of the world. Whether we like it or not, we do not have the option of isolation. 

“Mississippi needs people who understand process and how to lead in a complicated world – that’s what Croft provides.” 

Sederia Gray, a communications manager at Google and 2010 Ole Miss graduate, is one of two alumni who will speak with students during the 25th anniversary celebration. Gray said her time in Croft prepared her to work in various international positions throughout her career. 

“It’s really holistic, and the worldview is important,” the Starkville native said. “When I was taking classes outside the Croft Institute, it was very focused on what was going on in Mississippi or domestic issues. Croft opened me up to a world of experiences.” 

Gray, who studied abroad in Ecuador and Costa Rica and studied Spanish as her second language, said her career has often revolved around her ability to make connections with diverse cultures. 

“Being a part of the Croft Institute, that helped us become a part of a world that was connecting,” she said. “I’ve always had an international component to everything I’ve done. 

“Now, at Google, everything is global. We have operations all over the world. Understanding the importance of culture and how that intersects with politics and social – that has been important to understand.” 

Young said he hoped students would be able to learn from Gray and other alumni who return to the university this month. 

“One of the most exciting things in organizing this event was the caliber of alumni we have and what they’ve done,” Young said. “Our oldest alumni are now in their 40s, and they’ve done amazing things that our students can learn from. For the alumni, they’ll get to see the future of Croft.”


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