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Sandra Britton
Director, Leo R. Dowling International Center

Last modified: Wednesday, March 4, 2009

IU celebrates 50 years of the Leo R. Dowling International Center

March 4, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- For 50 years the Leo R. Dowling International Center at Indiana University in Bloomington has acted as a link for international students to student organizations and the IU Bloomington community, providing Friday coffee hours, language conversation groups, orientation activities, informational workshops and weekly concerts. This Friday (March 6), the IU and Bloomington community will celebrate at the center, which is located at 111 S. Jordan Ave., with a 4 p.m. event planned by IU students.

Leo R. Dowling International Center

Leo R. Dowling International Center

Print-Quality Photo

The event, which will feature a ribbon cutting of newly refurbished space on the third floor, will include brief remarks by Patrick O'Meara, vice president for international affairs; Christopher Viers, associate vice president for international services; and director of the center, Sandra Britton. Students will recreate the 1950s ambience of the center's origin, and refreshments will be served.

"The energy and initiative of generations of students have made the Dowling International Center an invaluable resource on the IU campus," said O'Meara. "When I travel abroad, I hear frequently from alumni how much the center stands out in their memories of their time in Bloomington."

Providing a place for groups with international interests to meet on campus was the brainchild of Leo R. Dowling, IU's first international student advisor. As increasing numbers of international students came to IU after World War II, Dowling convinced IU President Herman B Wells of the importance of establishing an international center for students. Such a space would enhance IU's hospitable image, would meet important needs of international student groups and provide a meeting place for the Cosmopolitan Club, a social organization of that time run jointly by international and U.S. students.

Converted family residences, where Read and Forest Residence Centers now stand, provided the first home for these activities, but the chance for a permanent home arose when the Alpha Chi Omega sorority decided to relocate to North Jordan Avenue in 1957. Their old house, refurbished by the university, opened to student groups in March 1958.

The traditional half-timbered and brick building sits on a knoll across from the Musical Arts Center and looks much as it did when it first opened. In 1992, it was named after Leo R. Dowling, its founder and for three decades its director.