The Stephen L. and Connie J. Ferguson International Center officially opened its doors in February for IU’s international programs that provide student services such as study abroad opportunities and support groups for excursions.
The new building houses the Office of International Services, which handles international admissions and services for current international students. According to IU, in fall 2022, there were 5,437 international students from 121 different countries enrolled at IU.
The center was funded in part by a $5 million donation from alumni Stephen and Connie Ferguson. Connie Ferguson, who received a bachelor’s degree from the College of Arts and Sciences, said the goal of the project was globalization.
“It would be nice to help students be truly global citizens,” she said. “We want international students to have a home away from home.”
Stephen Ferguson, who received his J.D. from the Maurer School of Law, said he agreed with the goal of the new center. As the Chairman of the Board of Cook Group Incorporated, which distributes medical devices to 135 countries worldwide, he said his work provides him with several travel opportunities which ultimately lead to his decision to donate to the project.
“When you go to all those places, you realize what a small world it is,” he said. “I want international students to have a place to go.”
Ferguson said he has a personal connection to the location of the center because he grew up on 10th Street and walked past its grounds every day to attend University High School, which was located on 3rd Street and Eagleson Avenue until 1964.
According to IU, one in three students on the Bloomington campus will study abroad before they graduate, with more than 3,000 traveling each year. The Ferguson Center houses the Office of Overseas Study, which provides counseling to students through advising appointments and walk-in help. Students can schedule an appointment via the Student Appointment Scheduler or visit the office for in-person guidance.
Taisha Ovide, an IU senior studying human biology, works at the center as a peer counselor and helps students who want to study abroad. She studied in London in spring 2022, and she said the trip inspired her to work for the Office of Overseas Study so she could help other students have positive experiences like hers.
She said, "I wanted to help others have the same overall positive experience I had and I knew the way to do it was through this job."