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Saint Louis University. Latin American Office. (Circa 1963-circa 1971) | Saint Louis University Libraries Special Collections:  Archives and Manuscripts

Name: Saint Louis University. Latin American Office. (Circa 1963-circa 1971)


Historical Note:

The Latin American Office began its existence as the Peace Corps Office in April of 1963, with Francis (Frank) B. Savage as its director. It was responsible for on-campus recruiting of volunteers for Latin American Peace Corps efforts and also conducted outreach for the Corps within the St. Louis community. In 1962 SLU sent its first Peace Corps contingent, 27 nurses and social workers, to assignments in Honduras. The second cadre in 1963 consisted of 29 trainees for a Rural Community Action Program in Panama, and the last Peace Corps group from SLU went to Costa Rica in 1964.

By November 1963 the Peace Corps Office had been superseded by the Latin American Office, still with Savage as director. This office became the nucleus of international endeavors at Saint Louis University, and seems to have been practically synonymous with the Office of International Programs. Indeed, the two offices sometimes had the same director. According to a SLU press release, the Latin American Office was responsible for liaison between SLU and the Latin American universities with which it maintained cooperative programs, but was not involved in the creation of the Latin American studies program at SLU. A 1968 press release on the Office of International Programs explained that it would coordinate the Latin American Area Studies program at SLU, programs for foreign students, student exchange programs, and overseas service programs of the University while working to foster a wider international dimension to SLU's curriculum of general studies. Savage, first director of the Latin American Office from 1963 to 1965, was succeeded by Battle Smith, who served from 1965 to 1966. Gil M. Saudade filled the post between 1966 and 1967, while by 1968, Father Harold C. Bradley, S.J. had become both director of the Latin American Office and campus coordinator of international programs. Saint Louis University ran two contracts in Latin America for the State Department's Agency for International Development (AID). The contract with Pontificia Universidad Catolica (Pontifical Catholic University) in Quito, Ecuador began in 1963 under a $400,000 grant from AID to develop the school's library and science laboratories, establish a nursing center, and develop the School of Social Service, the only university-level program of the kind in the country. This contract, originally for two years, was later renewed and finally terminated in 1968. SLU's second AID contract was a five-year, $1, 650, 262 agreement with Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra (Catholic University Mother and Teacher) in Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic. This effort, which was phased out in1970, involved providing technical assistance to improve the administration, organization, and academic programs of the Dominican school. At the time UCMM, although only two years old, was the only university in the country left open after the government's closing of the state university in response to political unrest in 1965. UCMM was selected for help by AID because of its progressive programs and policies and its potential for further development. Specific areas of assistance included the creation of a Social Science Department with research capability, the setting up of a language laboratory, expansion of the library, ongoing teacher training, and local fund raising efforts. Under these AID contracts SLU was permitted to send foreign students for training to any institution either inside the United States or abroad that it and AID officials believed best able to provide needed education to "participant trainees," as the Latin American students were called.

Other SLU initiatives in Latin America included technical assistance under AID for radio literacy programming in Honduras; private cooperative assistance schemes with Pontificia Universidad Laveriana (Pontifical Laveriana University) in Bogota, Colombia and Universidad Andres Bello (Andres Bello University) in Caracas, Venezuela; and various training programs, workshops, and consulting endeavors in Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Peru.

The Orientation USA program also apparently functioned under the auspices of, or at least from the same office space as, the Latin American Office. Founded in 1964 by Harry Cargas, Orientation USA offered foreign students intensive English training and an introduction to American culture designed to allow them to participate fully in American college life.






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