'Berg establishes the Helm Study Abroad Fund

News Image Endowed fund will support students with financial need who wish to have an international education experience

 Wednesday, April 29, 2015 10:34 AM

The Muhlenberg College Board of Trustees gave outgoing President Randy Helm a surprise last week - trustees, parents, alumni and members of the senior staff announced the establishment of the Helm Study Abroad Fund. This endowed fund will support students with financial need who want to study abroad, either for full-time semester experiences or as part of Muhlenberg Integrated Learning Abroad (MILA) courses. Pledges to the fund have already exceeded $275,000, and the fundraising only started in January with outreach to Trustees, Observers, Parents Council and Alumni Board members and President's Staff. The campaign will now continue in a larger, more public fashion.

The announcement was made at the College's Board of Trustees meetings April 24.

"While not surprising, the outpouring of support in creating the Helm Study Abroad Fund has been overwhelming," said Rebekkah Brown '99, vice president for development & alumni relations. "To see these constituents, who are so closely connected to the College, give so generously in support of Randy and his presidency is a testament to the progress the College has made during his tenure. Donors were also incredibly supportive of and passionate about the purpose of the Fund - ensuring that there are resources available for students to be able to study abroad during their academic career, no matter their financial circumstance."

In addition to his presidential responsibilities, Helm served as a professor of history. Among other courses, he taught "Homeric Epic and Greek history," part of the MILA program, which offers a short-term study abroad component. After a semester of study together, Helm led his students on a 10-day trip to Greece that included site visits and field work.

“I know from my own undergraduate education – when I did archaeological fieldwork in Israel – and from the experiences of Muhlenberg students, that study abroad is one of the most powerful and transformative learning experiences there is," said Helm. "I am tremendously moved and, really, quite overjoyed to learn that so many people have supported this effort, and that so many students will be able to study abroad in the future.”

After 12 years as president, Helm will retire on June 30. Under his leadership, the College’s endowment grew from $70 million to $250 million, and he led to completion a $110 million capital campaign, The Talents Entrusted to Our Care. The College developed two strategic plans, completed a new life sports center and new science building, expanded and renovated Seegers Union, built new residence halls, expanded its Hillel House and retrofitted existing buildings as new facilities for the performing arts, multicultural life, global education and social sciences. 'Berg has continued to set records for admissions applications while raising the academic profile of the student body. The College has made great strides in diversity over the past decade: for four straight years, the incoming freshman class has included more than 10 percent multicultural students. The College has added 10 tenure-track faculty positions and created programs in film studies, Africana studies, Jewish studies, public health, finance and other areas.

Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private, four-year college located in the Lehigh Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Muhlenberg offers programs in the liberal arts and sciences, along with selected pre-professional studies and a number of interdisciplinary majors.