ARLINGTON - A couple deeply committed to education and global understanding has created a new endowment to establish the Charles T. McDowell Center for Critical Languages and Area Studies at The University of Texas at Arlington.
Betty Ruch made a gift of $580,000 on behalf of herself and her late husband, Roger Ruch. The Tarrant County couple has been longtime supporters of UT Arlington. Their contribution is being doubled to establish the $1.16 million endowment through the Maverick Match, an innovative program that matches major gifts with University natural gas royalties.
McDowell, who died in 2007, established the Center for Post-Soviet and East European Studies at UT Arlington in 1968. The Ruch endowment will enable the new center within the College of Liberal Arts to have a global focus, including Russia, the Baltic States, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Eastern and Central Europe and the Balkans. The McDowell Center also will focus on the study of languages described by the National Science Foundation, the United States Department of Defense and the U.S. State Department as critical for their strategic interest and economic potential.
"The contributions of the McDowell Center will be immense in terms of our commitment to global understanding," President James D. Spaniolo said. "Endowments like this play a major role in the University's work to become a nationally recognized research institution."
The Ruches were the host family to 28 exchange students. Among their students were the first teenagers from mainland China and the Soviet Union to ever live with an American family. The couple traveled the world to meet parents of teens who would live in their home while studying in the United States.
They met Professor McDowell in 1970 during their 17-year quest to host a student from the Soviet Union, Betty Ruch recalled. The Ruches admired McDowell's work and shared his desire to provide students from other nations a broad-based education and exposure to the American way of life.
In addition to the study of critical languages and the history of cultures in these geographic areas, the McDowell Center will focus on the development of study abroad and exchange programs. It will sponsor lectures by renowned experts and provide annual scholarships for exchange students who participate in the International Research and Exchanges program. McDowell served as national IREX representative for international post-doctoral scholars selected to come to UT Arlington.
The McDowell Center's activities will be multidisciplinary, involving the departments of modern languages, history, political science, English and linguistics as well as research in other departments in the College of Liberal Arts and across UT Arlington.
UT Arlington political science professor Mark Cichock, an expert in comparative political analysis, Russian and East European politics and foreign policy, has been named interim director of the McDowell Center. Cichock earned his doctorate in international studies from the University of South Carolina in 1983 and joined UT Arlington in 1985.
"It is a great honor to follow in the distinguished footsteps of my friend and former colleague, Charles McDowell," Cichock said. "With all the dedicated professors and staff we have at the University, he stood above us all for his dedication to students, their education, and the school of which he was a part for over four decades. This Center is a wonderful tribute to his accomplishments."
McDowell had a distinguished military career before joining the UT Arlington academic community. He taught the Russian language, history, economics, geography and political science in a classified joint military/civilian intelligence agency. He was a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College and of a two-year Soviet-East Europe Advanced Foreign Area Studies Program at the doctoral level. He was a master parachutist and highly decorated for his service in the military and to the United Nations.
McDowell earned a master's degree from Columbia University in 1953 and a doctorate from Texas A&M University in 1956. He also served as a Diplomatic Courier and USSR Specialist, as well as a Foreign Service Officer for the State Department in the former Soviet Union, Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
At UT Arlington, McDowell served in numerous capacities, including as dean of student life, chairman of the Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, and assistant to the president. He also was the first chairman of the Faculty Senate, a position to which he was elected four times. He was honored for his teaching, advising and student mentoring.
"The center is a fitting way to honor a man who devoted his career to giving exemplary service to his university, his country, and communication between the peoples of the world," said Beth Wright, dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.