Dartmouth Gift Ensures All Students Can Experience Foreign Study

Karen and Jim Frank’s $10.5 million gift expands access to global learning opportunities

Woman and students in a study room

“My experience of living in Spain created for me an empathy for other peoples’ perspectives that I might not have been able to gain any other way, and I think that has impacted me for my entire life. That kind of experience reinforces the mission of Dartmouth to prepare leaders who will make important contributions to our shared future.”

-James S. “Jim” Frank ’65

Thanks to the leadership of Karen and James S. “Jim” Frank ’65, Dartmouth will provide scholarship support to all financial aid students who want to study abroad or participate in other off-campus academic programs.

The Franks Have Been Leaders in Foreign Study Support Since 2018

In 2018, the Franks, joined by their sons Daniel ’92 and Jordan ’94, made a $7.5 million gift, including a challenge match, to establish a scholarship fund to help undergraduates wanting to participate in off-campus programs, which inspired another $4.5 million in commitments from other alumni and parents. The Franks recently made the decision to complete the $15 million fundraising initiative to encourage students to study abroad again now that post-pandemic travel is becoming available.

On Saturday, speaking at a gathering of campaign leaders and volunteers, President Philip J. Hanlon ’77 announced that the Franks had generously given beyond their original commitment.

“I’m deeply honored to announce that Trustee Jim Frank and his wife, Karen, have answered the Call to Lead—again—by increasing their commitment to foreign study scholarship to $10.5 million, thereby completing our fundraising goal for this initiative,” said President Hanlon. “Starting immediately in this academic year, every Dartmouth student who is eligible for financial aid and wishes to participate in off-campus programs will now have scholarship support to do so. This is one of our many commitments to a more global, equitable, and inclusive campus, and I’m so grateful to Jim and Karen for helping to make it happen.”

The Jim and Karen Frank Family Scholarship Fund for Study Abroad and the other endowed funds established through this initiative will provide scholarships to more than 300 students who participate in Dartmouth’s international education programs and receive financial aid. Each student supported by the Franks’ scholarship fund will be recognized as a Frank Family Scholar.

“It’s critical that every student who comes to Dartmouth has the opportunity to fully participate in all aspects of academic and student life,” says Liz Cahill Lempres ’83 TH’84, chair of the Board of Trustees. “Foreign study has been core to the Dartmouth experience for generations. The Franks’ generosity makes that experience accessible to all Dartmouth students. Just as Jim does in our trustee discussions, Jim and Karen have put our students first through this gift.”

For Jim Frank, the Dartmouth Study Abroad Experience Was Life-Changing

Jim Frank said living and studying in Spain on Dartmouth’s program in 1963 was a profound experience that has stayed with him.

“Much of what I am today resulted from my educational experience at Dartmouth,” said Frank. “What I experienced living in Spain was something that I don’t believe could possibly happen on a college campus. I saw the world through the eyes of a totally different culture with completely different values and perspectives.”

Despite the world being much more interconnected today, students continue to find their time abroad to be life-changing. Sergio Vazquez ’22 participated in a Language Study Abroad program in Italy and came away convinced that every undergraduate should study abroad.

“Every day in this experience was a highlight,” he says. “The rural atmosphere coupled with outside markets, poverty, humbleness, and simplicity of life reminded me of a lot of the small towns in Mexico where my parents are from. All this tied together reminded me that we are all human and that kindness is a universal language.”

Dartmouth is a Long-Time Leader in Offering Study Abroad Opportunities

Dartmouth was an early pioneer in study abroad programs, and typically more than 55 percent of all undergraduates spend at least one term at a foreign university. However, College officials know that a percentage of students who are interested in studying abroad choose not to do so, often for financial constraints.

Director of Financial Aid Dino Koff emphasized that cost will no longer be a factor for students when considering whether to participate in an off-campus academic program. Students receiving financial aid will pay the same net price for a term in Hanover or a term anywhere else in the world.

The scholarships established through the Franks’ leadership, which will assist students with the full range of expenses incurred while studying abroad, including travel and meals, will further distinguish Dartmouth from its peers.

“Prospective students know Dartmouth offers exceptional foreign study programs. This scholarship enhances what is already a powerful differentiator for us,” said Lee Coffin ’89a, vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid. “All undergraduates can now participate fully in our dynamic, off-campus opportunities regardless of their ability to afford the program.”

In the current term, 57 Dartmouth undergraduates who receive financial aid are participating in off-campus programs and each of them will receive an additional award thanks to this scholarship initiative. While 57 financial aid recipients studying off campus is low for a fall term, this cohort includes the first Dartmouth students since before the start of the pandemic to travel abroad and immerse themselves in a foreign culture, just as Jim Frank did nearly 60 years ago.

“My experience of living in Spain created for me an empathy for other peoples’ perspectives that I might not have been able to gain any other way, and I think that has impacted me for my entire life,” said Frank. “That kind of experience reinforces the mission of Dartmouth to prepare leaders who will make important contributions to our shared future.”