March 23, 2007

Study-abroad legislation honors Simon's legacy

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Federal legislation is again being proposed to establish a national study abroad program that honors the founder of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

A bill creating a Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation was reintroduced recently in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation, introduced by U.S. Reps. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, F-Fla., chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, proposes to increase the number of American undergraduate students studying abroad to one million annually.

A bi-partisan Commission on the Abraham Lincoln Study Abroad Program released a report in November 2005 calling on the president and Congress to make $50 million available annually beginning in 2006 to fund a Lincoln Fellowship Program — with the goal of one million American undergraduate students studying abroad annually by 2017.

Nationwide, there are currently about 200,000 undergraduate students studying abroad. At SIUC there are approximately 176 people participating in study abroad programs in about 20 countries.

Sens. Richard J. Durbin, D-Springfield, and Norm Coleman, R-Minn., are expected to re-introduce similar legislation in the U.S. Senate, according to the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges. Similar legislation received bi-partisan support before the session ended last year.

Prior to his death in December 2003, Simon worked tirelessly on his vision for renewing international education and for establishing a commission to design the program.

"Sen. Paul Simon was a visionary and he understood very well the importance of study abroad programs and their contributions to enhancing an understanding of global issues," interim SIUC Chancellor John M. Dunn said. "Federal support for the program would honor Sen. Simon and help to enhance his legacy of creating a much brighter future where people in the USA and other countries value and respect one another."

More information on commission and its report is available at