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Institute reacts to Kroc gift

Anna Gelhaus | Friday, October 31, 2003

The record $50 million gift from the late Joan Kroc to the University has left many students and faculty connected thankful and moved.

Kroc specified in her will that the donation should be used to enhance the graduate program at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

“It is such a wonderful gift,” said Willow Wetherall, graduate student at the Institute. “It speaks very highly of Joan Kroc’s commitment to peace studies.”

Kroc first become affiliated with the University after hearing a speech in the 1980s by then University President Father Theodore Hesburgh on his concern over the arms race situation at the time.

In response, Kroc made a donation to establish the Institute.

Overall, she has donated $69 million to the University.

“[The donation] has given us hope, but also a lot of responsibility,” said Mireya Garcia-Duran, second-year graduate student at the Institute. She said donations of this magnitude are rare. “It is about funding an institute that will continue to do work,” she said.

Part of the Institute’s strategic plan involves expanding the current program into a two-year degree, and funds from this donation will help to fund that development.

“Students will be returning to absorb and integrate their experiences into the academic program,” said Julie Titone, assistant professional specialist at the Institute.

Garcia-Duran also highlighted the benefits of the program.

“The Institute is bringing people from all over the world who will go home and continue to work for peace in their countries,” she said.

Wetherall said she is excited about the “possibility of a Ph.D. program, which is wonderful from a student’s perspective because there are very few opportunities for graduate studies in peace studies. It will provide so many wonderful opportunities.”

Joan Kroc’s death was a surprise to those at the Institute, Garcia-Duran said, but it also left them inspired.

“She had a wonderful heart,” Wetherall said. “It is a wonderful, generous gift.”