Announcing the release of To Rescue Scholars is to Rescue the Future: An Impact Study of the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund (2002-2020)

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In 2002, IIE’s trustees launched the Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) as the only global program that arranges and funds academic fellowships for threatened and displaced scholars around the world. IIE-SRF was created not only to save scholars’ lives but also to ensure the protection and proliferation of their ideas and work. Nearly twenty years later, we are delighted to announce the release of a new study – made possible through the generous support of IIE Chairman Emeritus and IIE-SRF co-founder Dr. Henry Kaufman – that documents the impacts and achievements of IIE-SRF’s alumni on their home countries, host communities, and academic disciplines.

“Dr. Kaufman – and his IIE-SRF co-founders Dr. Henry Jarecki and Tom Russo – astutely recognized that ‘to rescue scholars is to rescue the future,'” says Dr. George Rupp, Chair of the Scholar Rescue Fund Committee of the IIE Board of Trustees. “This sentiment has never seemed more prescient than with the release of this report chronicling the far-reaching impacts of IIE-SRF alumni on their communities and our world through their teaching, research, and activism. The courage, resolve, and talent of these scholars should inspire all of us working in global higher education.”

View the study

To Rescue Scholars is to Rescue the Future comprises the survey responses of more than 200 IIE-SRF alumni from 38 countries across diverse academic fields. It demonstrates the sizeable contributions that these scholars have made in their classrooms, laboratories, and beyond since the completion of their fellowships. They have conducted and published innovative research, cultivated enduring relationships with students and colleagues, contributed to the improvement of educational institutions in their home and host countries, and championed social justice in their communities.

This study utilized the survey responses of 207 of the 439 IIE-SRF alumni who completed fellowships between 2003 and 2019, a response rate of 47%.

Key findings include:

  • IIE-SRF alumni have disseminated their knowledge and expertise via more than 10,000 scholarly publications, presentations, artistic works, and public appearances since competing their fellowships
  • Alumni have imparted their knowledge to more than 52,000 students in over 1,600 academic courses, supervised more than 2,600 student theses, and mentored over 800 junior faculty
  • Alumni have created more than 40 films and registered 42 patents
  • The majority of alumni have made improvements to educational institutions, including within their home countries (56%) and, for those unable to return, in their new communities (62%)
  • Nearly one third of alumni have held higher education leadership positions since completing their fellowships
  • Alumni have promoted social justice (55%), increased intercultural understanding (51%), and supported disadvantaged populations in their communities (44%)
  • Alumni have contributed to the expansion of academic freedom (52%) and increased access and equity among students and staff (40%)
  • 75% of alumni living abroad have remained connected to their home academies, incorporating topics related to their home countries into their scholarly work (57%) and participating in distance learning activities (29%)
  • The vast majority of alumni (92%) reported that their fellowship experience positively impacted their post-fellowship careers

To Rescue Scholars is to Rescue the Future also reinforces the urgency of IIE-SRF’s mission and work. “The need for impactful, cutting-edge research and fresh ideas that advance social justice is more apparent today than ever,” says Dr. Mariët Westermann, Chair of the IIE-SRF Selection Committee. “This study demonstrates that IIE-SRF alumni are improving their communities and the world around us on a daily basis, acting as educators, experts, and change makers on and far beyond their host campuses. And while we celebrate these scholars and their achievements, their success only increases our resolve to support the many threatened academics worldwide whose contributions would otherwise be lost. We collaborate with many governments, donors, universities, and other partners to rescue and support these scholars, and invite you to join us in this vital work.”

For a more in-depth look at the lives and work of IIE-SRF’s courageous and talented alumni, please join us for our next IIE-SRF Dialogues webinar, which will be held the week of May 24. During the webinar, IIE-SRF alumni from four countries will share with audiences their remarkable personal and professional journeys. More details about the webinar, including the webinar date and time, will be shared with audiences on the IIE-SRF website in the coming weeks.


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