Abilene Christian purchased the historic villa earlier this year. Built in 1872, the property is located in the Music District of Leipzig and will provide housing for about 35 students, as well as kitchens, classrooms and living spaces.
Stephen Shewmaker (’91), executive director of ACU’s Center for International Education, said the purchase of the villa is a significant piece in realizing ACU’s strategic objective to have 50 percent of undergraduate students study abroad.
“This villa allows us to build upon our decade of experience in Germany, gives us a chance to more fully leverage our resources there – as there are amazing opportunities in Leipzig for almost every area of study – and communicates to Leipzigers that ACU desires to be a committed member of the local community,” Shewmaker said.
Joining Shewmaker as speakers at the open house were Burkhard Jung, mayor of Leipzig; Timothy Eydelnant, U.S. Consul General in Leipzig; Dr. Phil Schubert (’91), ACU president; and Dr. Robert Rhodes, ACU provost. Music was provided by Alden Gatt of Leipzig and Naples, Florida; and the Rev. Martin Reakes-Williams, chaplain of the Leipzig English Church, offered blessings.
Visiting faculty and administrators took the opportunity to meet with Leipzig businesses and educators to discuss ways of maximizing future study abroad experiences for students. “There was lots of rich conversation before and after the event between ACU folks and Leipzigers who attended,” Shewmaker said.
Dr. Stephen Baldridge, associate professor of social work and chair of ACU’s experiential learning task force, said the villa’s location is one of the most exciting parts of living and learning in Germany. It is a short walk from the historic city center and is well connected to the city’s excellent public transportation system.
“Leipzig itself is a vibrant, growing city full of culture, art, and rich in educational opportunity,” Baldridge said. “Given the university’s commitment to experiential learning, and with study abroad being a vital aspect of that, students will be given the opportunity to experience a culture other than their own, while learning from local professors and immersing themselves in the art, history and diversity of the city. Being so close to the city center will give students a truly transformative experience.”
For more information about ACU Study Abroad opportunities, contact Stephen Shewmaker at 325-674-2710 or visit www.acu.edu/studyabroad