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Ungar sabbatical includes research in Italy, teaching, writing

Jaclyn Peiser
Editor-in-Chief

With his final months as Goucher’s tenth president coming to an end, Sanford Ungar has begun lining up plans for his yearlong sabbatical.
“I leave this job on Monday, June 30 and on Wednesday, July 2, I’ll be on an airplane to Italy,” Ungar said. “I’m spending the whole rest of July at The Bellagio Center of the Rockefeller Foundation [in their] residency program.”
Ungar applied and was accepted to The Sanford Ungar , which selects scholars, leaders, artists, and policymakers who plan to write and conduct innovative research on global issues. “It’s a chance to go think and write in a beautiful setting, and eat wonderful Italian food,” Ungar said.
Ungar plans to write and conduct research on study abroad and American foreign policy.
“I really believe that America would have an easier time in the world if a much larger percentage of the population had an overseas experience studying abroad,” Ungar said of his goal behind his research. “Just imagine if half the members of congress had studied abroad, how much more enlightened conversations would be. … [They could] for example, understand immigrants better as a result of having those oversees experiences.”
Ungar’s wife, Beth, will join him half way through his time at The Bellagio Center and the two will travel in northern Italy. When he returns to Washington, D.C. in August, Ungar will have an office at Georgetown University as a scholar in residence.
“I like to say, ‘No money or work product will change hands at Georgetown,’” Ungar said. “It’s just a place to perch and write. I have the office for the year.”
Writing is Ungar’s primary goal during his year off, with ideas ranging from personal narratives about his family and past to his time as a college president.
“I have a lot to write about my experience here and some of the things I’ve learned,” Ungar said. “I want to write about the enduring importance of the liberal arts education. I want to write, of course, about study abroad and the need to internationalize the curriculum in American college and universities. And I’ll be offering some observations of a former college president about various subjects.”
But the plan Ungar is most excited about is the opportunity to teach his freshman seminar, free speech, at Harvard in the fall. “[Teaching at Harvard] is very significant to me because I am a Harvard alumnus and I took a freshman seminar at Harvard 52 years ago.”
Ungar will travel to Cambridge every Wednesday morning and will return every Thursday night for the class.
After his time off, Ungar will return to Goucher as a tenured full-time faculty member in the History and Communications & Media Studies departments. In addition to teaching courses in both departments, Ungar plans to continue teaching his free speech first-year seminar.
“One of the things I’ve learned in this job is what a profound turning point that is in the lives of young people in this country, and how vulnerable they are but also how fresh they are, in a positive sense, how inspiring they can be,” Ungar said. “I’ve just had so much satisfaction from teaching first semester students and learning from them, and working with them on their writing.”
However, Ungar is still unsure how the shift will go from being president to being a faculty member. But he is confident that his good relationship with Goucher’s next president, Jose Bowen, will allow for a positive transition.
“It will be interesting,” Ungar said. “I have a very good relationship with José already. We have an excellent rapport with each other so that makes it seem more plausible to walk into a situation where he has succeeded me.”
But even after going through the various celebrations and farewell ceremonies, Ungar still believes he made the right decision to step down. “I feel good,” Ungar said. “It was a little weird to have to make [the decision] a whole year in advance and it’s interesting to see it played out. I’ve had some very wonderful conversations with people recently that I’ve known here for a long time… I’ve gotten just wonderful outpouring of notes and emails.”

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