Six Years Early, SFS Plans Centennial
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 12:10
Although the School of Foreign Service will not turn 100 until 2019, its students have already formed a planning group for the school’s anniversary celebrations. The Centennial Committee, which falls under the aegis of the SFS Academic Council, is in its second year of operation.
In their planning, committee members are taking inspiration from the school’s 75th anniversary celebration in 1994, which took the form of a weekend of seminars and speakers including President Bill Clinton (SFS ’68), who was in office at the time.
“We looked back at what they did to commemorate 75 years, and we wanted to do it bigger. We thought that we should start the Centennial Committee early so that our ideas could afford to be more ambitious, and so that we could formulate a detailed plan to present to the SFS Dean’s Office,” Centennial Committee founder Michael Fischer (SFS ’13) said.
In its first year, the group created a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, conducted research on the school’s history and collected oral histories from SFS alumni. The committee also set up tables at Traditions Day, the Student Activities Fair and alumni receptions in order to make people aware of the centennial anniversary.
“The committee has made a great effort to keep in touch with alumni, and our members have taken an active role in keeping up SFS pride and our proud history,” current Centennial Committee Chair Kevin Sullivan (SFS ’14) said.
The committee has successfully pushed to establish a course on SFS history and its impact on the world, which will first enroll students in the fall of 2014. The one-credit pilot course, which will be taught by SFS Dean Carol Lancaster (SFS ’64) and Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service program Anthony Arend (SFS ’80), is the first course about a Georgetown institution to be offered on the Hilltop. Committee members hope the course will soon be expanded to a full three credits.
“Back in 1919, at the start of the SFS, wharf management and international commerce were the main subjects on offer. As the world has changed, the SFS curriculum adapted, providing leaders in development aid, diplomacy, poverty alleviation and counterterrorism,” SFS Director of Outreach Gail Griffith (SFS ’72) said. “The course will discuss these global shifts and what the SFS did to impact these international issues.”
The committee came up with the idea for the class and helped draft the course’s syllabus and research requirements.
“The course will be a great opportunity for students to do research on prominent figures and events in the SFS and possibly get published in the soon-to-be-launched SFS magazine,” Sullivan said.
Committee members envision a yearlong celebration of the SFS in 2019, which will take place over two academic years, culminating in a larger version of the annual Diplomatic Ball that will be held in November, the month of the school’s founding.
“We want a yearlong lecture series in Gaston Hall where prominent speakers will discuss the role of the SFS in U.S. foreign policy and U.S history over the last 100 years. Of course we want to celebrate the centennial, so we’ll have a large ball, possibly on Capitol Hill, and we will hopefully bring back former President Clinton to speak,” Sullivan said.
The centennial celebrations will also serve as a major fundraiser for the SFS.
“The events of 2019 will help us fill our fundraising needs for our undergraduate students, and to reengage our 27,000 SFS alumni who live all over the world,” Griffith said.
The group, which meets once every two weeks, hopes to continue its planning with the SFS Dean’s Office and start to formulate a more concrete plan for the centennial celebrations in the upcoming months.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly quoted SFS Director of Outreach Gail Griffith as saying that the SFS taught wealth management in 1919. She said that the SFS taught wharf management.