Lucas and Janet Parsch, from Fayetteville, are committing $100,000 to Campaign Arkansas through a bequest to establish a scholarship specifically for international students at the University of Arkansas. Lucas Parsch, an emeritus professor of agricultural economics and agribusiness, and Janet Parsch, who is currently on the faculty for the University Libraries, are making this investment to assist students from other countries who encounter financial need.
Kim Needy, dean of the Graduate School and International Education, said, “I am grateful to the Parsches for their generosity and their heart for international students and international education. This scholarship will make it possible for even more international students to call the University of Arkansas home.”
Lucas and Janet Parsch participated in their first international experiences as junior-year study abroad students in Germany. The benefits of their international study were immediately obvious and life-changing, and a lifelong appreciation for international experience was born.
Parsch notes that increasingly more American students are now able to study abroad, yet the presence of international students studying in the U.S. affords a similar experience to the vast majority of American students who do not have the same opportunity.
“Over many years in the classroom, I came to realize the impact of an American student getting to know the international student who sat next to them in class,” said Parsch. “These one-on-one relationships can be the most meaningful international involvement many American students will experience during their college careers.”
The Lucas and Janet Parsch Endowed International Student Scholarship will support the recruitment and retention of international students coming to the U.S. to study at the university. Undergraduate and graduate degree-seeking students from international countries who demonstrate financial need will be eligible for the scholarship.
“Both Janet and I were first-generation college students, and thus we recognize that there are many barriers to going to college,” said Lucas Parsch. “However, financial barriers are the greatest barrier, and they are probably even greater for international students from developing countries.”
“Besides teaching and mentoring students in the classroom and in their research, the most direct way to help students succeed is to assist them in reducing their financial obligations and worry as they pursue their degrees,” said Janet Parsch, who noted that they were inspired by support for international students provided by John and Marie Lavallard. “Marie was a role model and inspiration to us to walk the talk in not only supporting international students in the classroom but also in providing financial support that would help international students attain their educational goals.”
Lucas Parsch was raised on his family’s dairy farm in Wisconsin and earned a bachelor’s degree in German and a master’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He holds a doctorate in agricultural economics from Michigan State University.
Janet Parsch was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, and earned a bachelor’s degree in German and art history and a master’s degree in library science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Arkansas.
The Parsches both joined the U.S. Peace Corps and served in Benin, West Africa, for two years. They came to the University of Arkansas in 1982, where Janet worked as a librarian and professor and Lucas was an associate professor in the areas of farm business management and production economics.
Janet Parsch is a tenured faculty member and has held leadership and administrative positions over the years in various library departments. Lucas Parsch retired in 2011 after 29 years on the U of A faculty and was awarded emeritus status. Over the course of his career, he participated in numerous international projects and was a Fulbright Specialist. In addition, he was the recipient of multiple teaching awards, including the John W. White Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Collis Geren Faculty Award, and was a member of the University of Arkansas Teaching Academy.
“When we moved to Arkansas in 1982, many people wondered how long two Wisconsinites would last in Northwest Arkansas,” said Janet Parsch. “Working at the university has given us the fulfilling opportunity to help students – many of whom are from blue-collar and agricultural families like ours – succeed in their goals. We feel fortunate to have lived and worked here during such a fascinating and exciting time, as the university has grown in size, curriculum and research offerings and endowments. The community has grown as well, yet it maintains its warmth and hospitality.”
The Parsches are members of the Campaign Arkansas committee for the Graduate School and International Education and Research and Economic Development. They are recognized as ThoroughReds for their 31 years of consecutive giving to the university and are included in the Towers of Old Main, the university’s most prestigious giving society.
About Campaign Arkansas: Campaign Arkansas is the ongoing capital campaign for the University of Arkansas to raise private gift support for the university’s academic mission and other key priorities. The campaign’s goal is to raise $1 billion to support academic and need-based scholarships, technology enhancements, new and renovated facilities, undergraduate, graduate and faculty research, study abroad opportunities and other innovative programs. The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in a wide spectrum of disciplines as it works to fulfill its public land-grant mission to serve Arkansas and beyond as a partner, resource and catalyst.
Article by Jennifer Holland