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Deborah G. Finkel

John W. Ryan Award -- Founders Day 2005

Professor of Psychology
Program Coordinator, International Studies Program
School of Social Sciences
University Graduate School
Indiana University Southeast
Appointed to IU faculty, 1992
B.S., Centre College, 1986
Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1992

Finkel, Deborah G.
Deborah Finkel
Print-Quality Photo

Eight years ago, access to global education at Indiana University Southeast was limited to little more than a minor in international studies. Today, students can major in international studies, hear about women's issues in the Muslim world and other global perspectives during a monthly lecture series, and learn about other cultures during International Festival Week. The difference? Deborah Finkel and her commitment to bring students and the community into the global dialogue.

"Dr. Finkel has fundamentally shaped, and indeed created, much of the International Programs structures on the IU Southeast campus," says Jean Abshire, director of international programs and assistant professor of political science. "[Her] outstanding contributions, dedication, and service . . . [have brought] international awareness to this campus and the southern Indiana community."

In conjunction with the International Studies Advisory Committee, Finkel proposed a new position to oversee international efforts at IU Southeast. In 1996, the faculty senate approved and asked Finkel to take the committee's helm. During the six fast-paced years of her tenure as director, from 1996 to 2002, she transformed the campus's academic and community programs.

Finkel started by updating the international studies minor and quickly realized that IU Southeast could benefit from a major that would incorporate existing courses from social sciences, humanities, and business and economics. In 1997, with the help of the advisory committee, she walked the application through the Indiana Higher Education Commission and received approval for a B.A. in International Studies in 2003. In only its second year of implementation, the major has nearly 30 students.

Meanwhile, Finkel worked on increasing awareness and visibility of the university's international offerings. In 1997, she founded the International Speaker Series, a monthly forum that highlights global issues and perspectives and the international activities of IU Southeast faculty. The speaker series also promotes the university's international programs to students and the community. In 1998, she helped organize the university's first annual International Festival, an event, now in its seventh year, that became International Week in 2002.

To help students and the community stay current with the university's international programs and events, she created the International Studies Web site and a printed International Directory.

"This marvelous, well-conceived, and well-articulated structure of international programs and activities has been put into place in an astonishingly short time, and mainly with the limited resources of a small campus," says Eleanor Turk, professor of history at Indiana University East. "Clearly, through her initial service as the campus liaison for International Programs and Overseas Study, Deborah has listened well and moved mountains."

Her contributions beyond campus are equally admirable. She's strengthened international connections with her work on IU Southeast's educational partnership with CARE-Honduras, and her development of the OIP/Chancellor's Fund that supports faculty and students in their international research, teaching, and service.

In the community, she's served on the board of the Center for Cultural Resources, which helps K-12 teachers incorporate multiculturalism into their classrooms, and has worked with the Clarksville Sister Cities Association.

"As you might expect, Southern Indiana has not historically been a hotbed of internationalism," notes Lynn Lewis, president of Clarksville Sister Cities Association, "but the leadership that Debbie Finkel has exhibited has begun to change that. Her work both at IU Southeast and in the community has been instrumental in a broadening of attitudes and an acceptance of diversity."

In addition to her roles as professor, director of International Programs, and, from 2002 to 2003, president of the faculty senate, Finkel still remains active in her own research, behavioral genetics. She is currently participating in the Swedish Adoption/Twin Study on Aging at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm -- only the second researcher since it's inception in 1984 to be invited to join the research team.