Proposed Global Plaza in need of donations

Roberto Hodge, Multicultural Editor

For nearly 10 years, a proposed plaza dedicated to international alumni and study abroad students is still needing donations and funding to move its construction forward.

The Global Ambassadors Plaza was considered as an option not long after the fire of Blair Hall in 2004. If such a plaza reaches it’s estimated goal of a little more than $500,000 the project can begin moving forward with construction.

Robert Augustine, the dean of the graduate school, said the project has been receiving small donations, but it is a secondary focus of the institution as donations for scholarships is primary.

Eastern has not generated any funds directly into the project because of the institution having other financial obligations, which is why the project is donation only and will not officially start unless a large contribution is made, Augustine said.

“It will take awhile longer for us to do that,” Augustine said.

Bob Martin, the vice president for university advancement, said the project has earned less than $20,000, and like Augustine, he said the project remains secondary to scholarship funding. The goal is for the institution to have created 100 new scholarships; it has currently reached 95.

Martin said there is no “champion” donor for the project, so it has been placed on the back burner until more funds have been pumped into it. He added the project will officially move forward when a “naming donor” has been identified.

“It needs somebody to step up to pay a quarter of a million dollars to at least get it started,” Martin said.

Augustine said the plaza would represent all international students and alumni who have studied at Eastern with a map of the world and flags representing each country of international students that have called Eastern their home.

The proposed plaza would be a way of strengthening the university’s commitment to international students, and it will show domestic students the possibilities for careers and business opportunities outside of the United States, Augustine said.

“A lot of disciplines such as business, science and economics will have an opportunity to take their careers abroad,” Augustine said. “Know how your discipline provides pathways for you, not just domestically.”

Augustine said the institution wants domestic students to know others from different countries and nationalities so they can learn from them.

Because the plaza is donation-specific, a select few prominent members of Eastern’s campus have donated, such as Blair Lord, the provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Lord said the donation toward the plaza is part of his contributions to the Eastern Illinois University Foundation; he said his donations sometimes go toward various scholarships, but this year it went to the plaza.

“I feel it important to make annual donations to Eastern, my church—to a variety of things,” Lord said.

Like Martin and Augustine, Lord agreed the project is very much still in its early stages needing a significant amount to fully get the plaza underway.

“You need someone that’s going to come and put in a chunk of change,” he said.


Roberto Hodge can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].