BROOKINGS – South Dakota State University has been invited by the Institute of International Education, a global network of partners offering practical support to scholars threatened by war and persecution, as an inaugural member.
The IIE-Scholar Rescue Fund Alliance launched in August 2020 to expand the efforts of IIE and its partners to assist the unprecedented number of threatened and displaced scholars globally. It builds upon IIE’s 100 years of providing resources and support to vulnerable professors and university students, including academics facing the evils of Nazism and Fascism, Black South Africans being denied educational opportunities under apartheid, and hundreds of scholars that are continually threatened by conflict and repression today.
“Being selected to host a scholar is a recognition of our department and of SDSU as a high-quality institution. From the department point of view, one of the reasons we followed up on this opportunity was that we recently renewed our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and this opportunity fits perfectly,” said Doug Raynie, who is the department head for the SDSU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “In addition, our scholar’s research aligns very well with what Professor Fathi Halaweish is doing so there’s a built-in research collaboration.”
The IIE-SRF fellowship includes:
• A research or visiting faculty position for up to one year (renewable for a second year);
• Funding for travel to the host institution;
• A grant for living expenses, plus health insurance;
• Matching financial support from the host institution;
• Networking and professional development opportunities; and
• Dedicated assistance and counsel from IIE-SRF advisers.
“Thanks to the financial support of many individual donors and larger foundations, IIE has sustained the historic mission of the Scholar Rescue Fund and invited institutions like ours to advance that mission, providing important opportunities to global scholars to continue practicing their craft and conduct research. It’s an honor for South Dakota State University to join this alliance, especially as it aligns closely with our work in International Affairs to bring the world to SDSU and connect SDSU to the rest of the world,” said Jon Stauff, SDSU’s assistant vice president for international affairs.
SDSU joins a network of hundreds of individuals, institutions and organizations spanning nearly 30 countries and multiple sectors. The IIE-SRF Alliance includes:
• Host and commitment partners that welcome IIE-SRF fellows to their campuses, providing safe haven and a temporary academic position;
• Organizational partners that offer services such as access to training or courses, free or discounted memberships and other critical support; and
• Ambassadors who share their time, skills and networks to empower these scholars on their journeys to rebuild their lives and careers.
A former Fulbright Scholar, Kennedy Nyongbela Dohjinga is serving as a postdoctorate research assistant in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
“Coming to SDSU gives me the opportunity to pursue my research activities in a conducive environment where I can help solve some of the world’s problems,” he said. An organic chemist, he specializes in the chemistry of natural products, looking to develop medications to solve various health care problems, such as malaria and cancer.
“My goals are to motivate students, demystify chemistry and get them to see chemistry as a fun subject,” he said. “I’m very happy to have been given this opportunity by the Scholar Rescue Fund to pursue my academic and research activities at South Dakota State University.”
If the conflict in Cameroon subsides, Nyongbela Dohjinga would like to return home to teach and conduct research. If that does not happen, he would gladly stay in the U.S. and continue his academic and research activities.
“In many contexts across the globe, our colleagues face threats to their lives and careers. Though academics have always been persecuted for their scholarly work and are among the first to be targeted during conflict and instability, the magnitude of the current crisis is unprecedented in IIE’s history. We are extremely grateful to South Dakota State University for taking this concrete step to support scholars in need,” says Allan Goodman, IIE’s president and CEO.
To learn more about IIE-SRF, the IIE-SRF Alliance and ways to get involved in supporting threatened and displaced scholars, visit ScholarRescueFund.org.