UW-Madison ranked No. 1 for the third consecutive year in Peace Corps volunteer production.
Seventy-five Badgers — more than any other U.S. university — are currently serving a 27-month stint in developing countries promoting peace through community integration.
Peace Corps director Jody Olsen visited campus last fall to recognize the university’s powerhouse Peace Corps recruiting efforts.
She learned that UW-Madison ranks second in the country for semester-long study abroad participation.
The university is among the top research institutions for students receiving offers to the Fulbright Program, the federal government’s flagship international educational exchange program.
About 16 percent of UW-Madison’s tenured and tenure-track faculty in 2017 were born outside of the U.S., bringing a global perspective to teaching, Olsen said.
Another data point she learned: The university is second among all U.S. institutions for awarding bachelor’s degrees in foreign languages, literatures and linguistics. At a time nationwide when other universities are dropping language programs, UW-Madison offers courses in more than 40 languages, 30 of which are designated as critical to U.S. national security by the National Security Education Program.
UW-Madison granted the highest number of degrees in Spanish, the second-highest number in French, and the third-highest for Chinese and Russian, according to a report from the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Taken together, she said the data show how UW-Madison positions itself and its students to be global citizens.
“These are examples of how the university says we believe in this work,” Olsen said in a November interview with the Wisconsin State Journal. “And when you’ve got a university that is walking the walk, so to speak, it makes it relatively easy when we talk about Peace Corps for people to say ‘I’ve got a chance.’ They are more comfortable when they hear the word ‘Peace Corps.’”
Since the Peace Corps was founded in 1961, nearly 3,300 UW-Madison alumni have served as volunteers around the globe, putting the university second on the all-time list of Peace Corps volunteers.
UW-Madison senior Michael Horner-Ibler, of Brookfield, will soon join those ranks.
He will graduate in May and jet off to Panama in June as a Peace Corps volunteer working on public health and water sanitation projects.
Horner-Ibler’s family is supportive of his decision, encouraging him to serve others. His older brother, David, returned last fall from a Peace Corps rotation in the west African country of Togo.
For Christmas, his brother gave Horner-Ibler his “top five most useful Peace Corps” items, including a Swiss army knife, collapsible toiletry bag and international stamps.
“Right now I’m trying to figure out how to bring both enough and as little as possible,” Horner-Ibler said of his packing efforts so far.
Horner-Ibler, who played tuba in the UW Marching Band for four years, also credits band director Mike Leckrone for pushing students to the next level while also knowing their limits.
Horner-Ibler is a little nervous about immersing full time in the language and culture. His Spanish degree will come in handy.
“I’m super excited to be a part of a new culture,” he said. “And be warm. I’m excited to be warm.”