At the Institute of International Education (IIE) Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF) Forum held in New York on April 29, Xiangming Chen, dean and director of the Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS), was presented with the Beacon Award for his inspiring dedication to hosting IIE-SRF fellows at Trinity College. In her letter to Chen, Sarah Willcox, director of SRF at IIE, wrote, “It gives me great pleasure to inform you that you have been chosen as this year’s recipient of the IIE-SRF Beacon Award for your exceptional commitment to providing safe haven to threatened scholars. We would like to honor your passion and dedication to creating an environment at Trinity College in which scholars can freely continue their work in safety.”
Chen received the award from Tom Johnson ’62, Hon. ’05, P’97, a former chairman of Trinity’s Board of Trustees who is currently the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the IIE. The Rescue Scholars at Trinity are jointly supported by a one-year fellowship from IIE and the Scott Michael Johnson ’97 Memorial Fund, which was established by Tom and his wife, Ann, in honor of their son Scott, a member of the Trinity College Class of 1997 who lost his life in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The Rescue Scholars have the opportunity to stay on for a second year if they apply and are approved by IIE and Trinity College before the end of their first year.
After receiving the award, Chen made short remarks about how honored he was to receive this prestigious award, especially from Tom Johnson. Chen stressed the critical importance of seeing Trinity not just as a hosting institution but as a hosting family for these scholars, some of whom have also brought their family members. He acknowledged his colleagues at CUGS and beyond as a large hosting family that has provided strong and targeted academic and social support for the six scholars hosted thus far at Trinity. Chen took great pride in sharing the award with his colleagues.
The six scholars to date include: two from Iran and one each from Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, Iraq, and, currently, a scholar from Belarus. Their various fields of study include: economics, environmental science, history, sociology, urban and regional planning, and watershed management. While all six scholars have carried their own research projects, Chen has found ways to collaborate with them, which has led to joint publications with three of the six scholars. The other three scholars have been contributors to the collective projects and publications at CUGS.
All six scholars have taught at least one course related to their area of expertise, most of which have been cross-listed and benefited many Trinity students. For example, Belarussian scholar Vladimir Kananovich taught “The History of Urbanism in Eastern Europe” and “Ukraine and Belarus in Historical Perspective” in fall 2015, and will teach them again in fall 2016. “I am deeply grateful to the Center for Urban and Global Studies at Trinity College for hosting me as IIE-SRF fellow,” Kananovich said. “My stay at CUGS has given me a valuable opportunity to combine teaching with my research. The faculty and staff at CUGS, in the History Department and International Studies Program, and at Trinity have been very supportive of my two academic courses. My participation in CUGS’ research and programming activities has allowed me to adjust and connect my courses on medieval and early modern history to urban studies.”