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Jeff DeGrave named new intercultural immersion coordinator

| Denise Olson

Jeff Degrave

Dr. Jeff DeGrave

Dr. Jeff DeGrave, senior lecturer of geography and anthropology, has been named the new intercultural immersion coordinator at UW-Eau Claire. Currently serving as interim coordinator, DeGrave's permanent position in the role officially begins Jan. 1, 2019. 

In this role DeGrave will manage nearly 20 faculty-led international immersion experiences and 10 domestic intercultural immersion programs. The Immersion Programs office also manages the International Fellows Program that enables faculty and staff to engage in specific international research projects directed by a faculty leader.

DeGrave has spent more than 13 years lecturing in the geography and anthropology and Latin American studies departments and brings to this position extensive domestic and international experience leading the following immersion programs:

  • Central European Travel Seminar international immersion program: 2010, 2011, 2017, 2018 (with multiple faculty leaders).
  • Argentina FLIIE program: 2016 (with Dr. Rose-Marie Avin).
  • Ecuador FLIIE program: 2017 (with Shanti Freitas, the former immersion coordinator).
  • Domestic intercultural immersion: 2014 (Bridging Russian Culture in San Francisco, with Dr. Emilia Oswalt).

In addition to these faculty-led intercultural immersion programs, DeGrave has engaged in numerous research programs funded through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, primarily on issues of social justice in Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and in Western Wisconsin.

DeGrave looks forward to applying his internationally focused instructional background to helping students develop larger, more interconnected global perspectives of humankind.

"Valuable high-impact experiences like immersion programs aspire to facilitate students’ awareness, engender greater appreciation and foster a deeper understanding of perspectives that may differ from their own," DeGrave said about these opportunities.

"While serving as an instructional staff member since 2005, I have endeavored to create greater awareness of the many different lived experiences and perspectives that intertwine with one another — including those of our own — in order to cultivate a more equitable worldview."

One key aspect of this position for DeGrave will be to prudently administer Blugold Commitment funding of these experiences. With the support of this differential tuition plan, students receive between $1,000-$2,000 to participate in a FLIIE program, and 90 percent of funding of any DII program, and DeGrave hopes to expand offerings over time.

"It is my ultimate goal to see that even more students and faculty leaders are able to take part in immersion experiences that are transformative and intellectually engaging," he said.

Dr. Darrell Newton, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, is confident in both DeGrave's level of immersion experience and his long track record of building relationships that benefit campus.

"Not only are we immensely proud to have someone as worldly as Jeff working among us, but he is a perfect choice to lead the program. He has garnered the respect of faculty and the admiration of students for quite some time," Newton said. 

Top image caption: Dr. Jeff DeGrave (back row, second from right) and former immersion coordinator Shanti Freitas (middle row, first on left) and Blugold students at the indigenous demarcation of the equator in Ecuador. This 2017 immersion program was titled “From the Andes to the Amazon: Culture and Geography in Ecuador.”