Kaimas Foundation Makes $300,000 Gift to International Political Economy Program

September 24, 2012

Donation aims to improve lives overseas by educating America’s future leaders

TACOMA, Wash. – The International Political Economy Program (IPE) at University of Puget Sound has received a $300,000 gift from the Kaimas Foundation to support faculty members and their students in pursuing research abroad.

The new funding will be directed into the Nicholas Vasilius IPE Endowment Fund, which was established in 2009, and will increase the resources available to help professors extend student learning beyond the classroom.

“The philosophy behind IPE of creating a better world through constructive engagement is fully in line with the aims of the foundation,” said Nicholas Vasilius ’07, chief financial officer of the Kaimas Foundation (pictured). “I’ve been to 42 countries myself, and I’ve seen what an understanding of politics and economics can really do. Having a core of people with this knowledge, who can relate across cultures and borders, can have a considerable impact on peoples’ lives.”

Vasilius studied in the IPE program, graduating in 2007, and said the concepts and understanding he gained from his professors were invaluable when he visited countries such as China, the Czech Republic, and Russia.

The Nicholas Vasilius IPE Endowment Fund provides resources for faculty members to pursue scholarship abroad, mentor student research, acquire new academic materials, develop innovative content and pedagogy, and strengthen interdisciplinary programs.

“We really are thrilled to receive this gift,” said Brad Dillman, director of the IPE program. “It will support collaborative research between faculty and students on crucial international issues and open up new opportunities to conduct fieldwork. With better understanding of global changes—such as the financial crisis and the Arab Spring—from the perspectives of those involved, we can bring that knowledge from abroad into the classroom and make it relevant to students’ lives and careers.”

The first fellowship from the fund allowed Sally Judson ’12 to travel and present her research thesis “The Probability of Turkey’s Accession to the European Union” to the 2011 Council on Undergraduate Research Conference in Washington, D.C. Working with IPE Assistant Professor Pierre Ly, Judson submitted her paper and was one of only 74 applicants out of 850 chosen to present at the conference.

The IPE program at Puget Sound is regarded as the first undergraduate major of its kind in the United States. When it was started by faculty in the early 1990s, the study of international political economy was sufficiently new that the professors could not find a suitable undergraduate textbook. In response, they wrote their own landmark book Introduction to International Political Economy. It is now used throughout the country.

Today IPE is one of Puget Sound’s largest majors. Three-quarters of IPE majors study abroad at some point during their college careers. The program takes a multidisciplinary approach to analysis of global issues, using tools from political science, economics, and sociology, and incorporating an understanding of history and appreciation of cultural differences.

The Kaimas Foundation is a private family foundation incorporated in Colorado Springs, Colo. Emphasizing education, health, and empowering women, it reaches out internationally, often funding areas that do not typically attract benefactors. The foundation’s driving principle is to strive to “make a big impact with a little money.”

Photos on page: Top right: Nicholas Vasilius '07, chief financial officer of the Kaimas Foundation (photo by Ross Mulhausen); Above left: Introduction to International Political Economy, 5th edition, book cover.

For more information about The Campaign for University of Puget Sound visit: www.pugetsound.edu/one

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