Welcome from the Dean

Welcome from Dr. Thierry Leterre,
Dean of the Dolibois European Center 

Live, learn, discover… When I asked at the beginning of my tenure as Dean of the John E. Dolibois European Center which words encompassed the experience we wanted for our Luxembourg Campus, these words offered themselves to our reflection. To this day, I still believe they cover much of what our purpose, and more important, our spirit is about.

Going abroad, if only for a semester, but even more significantly for those who commit themselves for a year, is a changing experience. There is of course the natural element of personal development that higher education aims at triggering in everyone. It is still truer on a campus taught by a remarkably multinational faculty coming from Belgium, France, Germany and, of course, Luxembourg and offering the students the knowledge and the experience of diverse professional and academic backgrounds.

This academic experience combines with the discovery of a radically new environment. As no one exactly leads the same life as her or his neighbor, everybody experiences this change in a very personal way. But we all change. Some like to stay in the little bubble that Miami creates in Luxembourg: for them our program is a way to discover life and cultures abroad without stepping too far away of the comfort zone. They enjoy being in one of the safest countries in the world and in an American-organized environment. Some have a more touristy approach, and bear in mind a check list of places borrowed from their guidebooks or friends who tell them what they “absolutely” should do. For others, more adventurous or curious, our program offers a unique possibility to interact with the others, meet people, learn languages, and learn to communicate even when you do not share the same language.

For many, their stay in Luxembourg will be remembered as a prime moment of autonomous adult life, with the typical requirements of balancing leisure and hard work, organization and improvisation, of acquiring new skills, or becoming aware of hidden talents that only needed the right opportunity to flourish. For all, it is the challenge of being opened, curious, tolerant either to locals or (more than often) to fellow American students as well as to be exposed in class to different teaching styles, a different rhythm in life as in work. This is why the bond that ties our community is particularly strong. Many alumni told me, sometimes years after they attended the program, that they had met their best friends at the Dolibois Center.

As you see, in the Luxembourg program, living is learning, learning is discovering.

This is why a signature feature of our program, entirely taught in English (with the natural exception of the mandatory language classes in French or German) is the two study tours courses that students have to take every semester. We want to seize the opportunity of applying the formal knowledge acquired in class to the world that surrounds us, and to the rich diversity and history of Europe. For this purpose, Luxembourg is an ideal location. Surrounded by Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg also easily connects to the whole continent, beyond these immediate bordering countries.

The richness of our program is also illustrated by a fact which is too little known: the Dolibois Center is one of the largest American study abroad programs in Europe. Every year more than 280 students enroll in the spring and fall semesters or the summer term and around a hundred students visit with programs hosted by the Center at some point for a few days or for a few weeks.

The Center is also a magnet program for faculty: every year, over 10 professors come from Miami to teach classes along with European faculty—whether Belgian, French, German or… Luxembourgish—at the Dolibois Center. These quick figures show how significant Miami University’s engagement in Europe is and compares to bigger consortiums which associate many universities in one program abroad.

What will the future of the John E. Dolibois center look like? I do not pretend to indulge in oracles. But I am convinced that our future connects to a simple fact: Luxembourg is the best place ever to be “an engaged university”.

The ambition of the Luxembourg program is to enrich the “Miami experience” by empowering students with more autonomy in their education, by developing in-class learning with out-of-class teaching, and providing tangible outcomes such as academic competences as well as intangible ones—all that we recognize as part of our personal growth.

Our task for the future is to expand this ambition, to enhance it, to make it more visible in our curriculum and the expectations we have for it.

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