Tufts will be losing an integral part of its student affairs community at the end of October when Jane Etish-Andrews, director of the International Center (I-Center) and former advisor to the International House (I-House), retires after 35 years at the university.
Etish-Andrews announced her retirement in May, and this was met with an outpouring of love and support from current students, international alumni and staff. However, alumnus Mauricio Artiñano (LA '06) believed that Etish-Andrews' years of service deserved something more; after all, Etish-Andrews has been described as a constant source of support for not only the international students she advised but all who came in contact with her. Artiñano, now a planning officer at the United Nations Mission in Colombia and a member of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life board of advisors, organized a series of activities on the weekend of Oct. 12 with the help of a committee working from places such as Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Greece, Nigeria and the U.S.
“In March of this year, I was speaking to Jonathan Kaplan, the director of [the] Boards of Advisors program, about how great [Jane is] and he said, ‘I have to tell you a little secret, Jane is retiring,’” Artiñano said at one of the weekend's receptions. “From that moment, I knew we had to do something big, and over the next few days we started this Facebook group and ... people were very excited to celebrate [Jane] and [her] legacy.”
Over the summer, with the help of alumni Chiamaka Chima (E '14, EG '16) and Graziella Reis-Trani (LA '04), Artiñano launched a fundraising effort for the creation of the Jane Etish-Andrews Scholarship to benefit international undergraduate students on financial aid.
“Jane has always been a staunch advocate for international financial aid. I was able to go to Tufts because of the generosity of the financial aid that, then, was just starting but has picked up so much [since] thanks to her,” Artiñano said.
Among many initiatives, Etish-Andrews was the impetus for the creation of the Oliver Chapman Fund in 1992, an emergency fund for international students in need that honors the late Oliver Chapman, an international student from Panama. According to Madeleine Conway,assistant director of donor communications at the university's advancement division, this was one of the many ways that Etish-Andrews has leveled the playing field for international students financially.
“Jane [Etish-Andrews] has access to funds that provide support for a student if they break a tooth or have to go to the dentist and have to pay a dental bill, or if they have to travel to a really cool conference to present some research they’re doing,” Conway said. “You can tell just how much it means to her to support students in those ways. I think it says a lot about Jane.”
Etish-Andrews said that she has been committed from the start of her time at Tufts to providing international students with the education they deserve and helping them overcome any financial obstacle.
“I really want to support the students because ... one of the things I’m really committed to is financial aid,” Etish-Andrews said. "And so that’s been my passion ... to see Tufts diversify, bring in more international students who do not have [the financial] means and would have never gotten here. And it started off small, it wasn’t as broad. The first students who came in could afford tuition and nothing else, so Tufts gave them living. Now we’re at the point where the international students on financial aid have gone from four to 44, and the numbers keep growing.”
Etish-Andrews' tenure at Tufts began in 1983, when she was appointed to succeed Leslie Rowe (F '82) as director of the then-International Office. Rowe had left Tufts to join the U.S. Foreign Service and served as the ambassador to Mozambique from 2010 to 2012. Back then, the I-Center's presence on campus had yet to truly grow into all that it could become. For starters, the I-Center was physically located in the I-House.
“The numbers, of course, have grown exponentially over the years. When I first came, there were pockets of countries and nationalities represented," Etish-Andrews said. "At this point, it was probably just affluent students because there was no aid, so [those] who could come here were people who could afford it.”
As the years progressed and financial aid for international students became more accessible, Etish-Andrews was pleased to see Tufts' student body diversify.
“Where I see the growth and changes [are] different nationalities [coming] in different numbers. Now we have a lot of kids from Nepal, Turkey, Canada, Greece, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Kenya, Zimbabwe. It’s just really broad. It’s just all over the place and they’re all really good students. And in my opinion, that has added to the fabric of the international community at Tufts in a way that doesn’t exist at many other colleges in the U.S.,” Etish-Andrews said.
Almost equally as remarkable as Tufts' growth in supporting international students is the success of the scholarship’s fundraising efforts. With 105 donors, the committee has managed to raise over $90,000 to date, according to Conway.
“I think it says a lot about Tufts students in general because this isn’t just donating flowers -- this is making sure her legacy lives on forever by creating this scholarship for international students in need. And I think it says something that they don’t want to just honor her but they want to do it in a way that will have a long lasting impact,” Conway said.
Etish-Andrews said that the need to support international students in the U.S. has never been more important, as political leaders continue to preach isolationist rhetoric.
“It has become harder to tell students and scholars when they ask for advice. I used to say with a lot more confidence, ‘Don’t worry, follow the instructions and you should be OK.’ Now I can’t promise it’s going to go the way it should,” Etish-Andrews said. “It’s unprecedented and it didn’t used to be this way. It just means we need to be a lot more careful. Dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s -- we really have been careful.”
Etish-Andrews and the I-Center have put the proper arrangements in place to ensure that her retirement does not cause disruptions for the international community at Tufts. The Office of the Provost announced the creation of a single, university-wide I-Center on July 1, consolidating offices that were previously spread across various schools.
“[This consolidation] ensures no student is falling through the cracks in terms of needs or policies so it makes more send to have a consolidated effort in terms of resources," Ghenwa Hakim, associate director of the I-Center, said.
As for who will be replacing Etish-Andrews, the search committee, which Hakim is a member of, has their work cut out for them.
“We are looking, but we cannot replace Jane. It is a long process because we want to make sure we have somebody in the role that is just as committed to the students and the international community,” Hakim said.