McDowell Center Announces New Director Dr. Lonny Harrison Takes the Lead with a New Mission and Vision

January 31, 2020

  • Cola News

Arlington, TX: UTA’s Charles T. McDowell Center for Critical Languages and Area Studies announced today that Dr. Lonny Harrison has taken over as the center’s Director, effective in the Fall 2019 semester.


Dr. Harrison joins the McDowell Center from the Department of Modern Languages where he is an Associate Professor of Russian. He brings substantial experience in critical languages and global studies to the McDowell Center’s programs. In his short time as director he has implemented a new mission statement and plans to expand the scope of the center’s work.


Additionally, Dr. Harrison’s experiences that will benefit the McDowell Center moving forward include:


  • A background in managing UTA’s Critical Languages and International Studies program;
  • Lifelong passion for travel and years of experience leading study abroad groups;
  • A college experience just like our students at UTA – falling in love with a language, going on a study abroad program, committing everything he had to mastering the language and immersing himself in its culture in every way he could.


“It’s an extraordinary privilege to carry on the legacy of Dr. McDowell. He was a one-of- a-kind individual with a storied career, but he always put students first,” says Dr. Lonny Harrison. “The Center’s priority for supporting international exchange and providing scholarships to students who excel in critical languages is the direct result of his vision. My vision for the Center is to make UTA the place to go for critical languages and global studies in the southwest, and to ensure that every student with the passion and drive to study abroad has the means to do so.”


"Dr. Harrison combines his background as an internationally-recognized Russian literature scholar with a long history of promoting and supporting UTA students during study abroad. He is the ideal academic colleague to lead the McDowell Center, which in the spirit of Professor McDowell, promotes the study of globalization and provides substantial scholarship support to UTA learners who study overseas in the world's most critical areas and languages,” says Dr. Pete Smith, Chief Analytics Officer, Professor of Russian, and Director of Modern Language’s GILT Program.


About the McDowell Center: The Charles T. McDowell Center for Critical Languages and Area Studies was founded in 2010 as a result of a generous endowment by Mrs. Betty Ruch and her late husband Roger in honor of their long-time friend, Dr. Charles T. McDowell. The McDowell Center cultivates global understanding through an open exchange of ideas between UTA and communities across the world. The center promotes curiosity and research by funding scholars and artists who seek to view the world from a different perspective. We do this because we believe that intercultural communication creates forward-thinking and compassionate human beings.


In a time when the media and Hollywood depicted the Soviet Union as “the Evil Empire,” Charles McDowell challenged his students to look beyond politics and governments to see a nation of people. He offered his knowledge and respect for the culture of a Cold War enemy to anyone who would listen. He guided regular study abroad trips behind the Iron Curtain and hosted students and scholars from Russia and East/Central Europe. His life-long commitment to bridging cultural divides inspired his friends Betty and Roger Ruch to create an endowment to establish the McDowell Center. His maverick spirit and the Ruch’s generosity are the foundation of the work that we do today.

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