BRATTLEBORO >> SIT Graduate Institute has awarded 155 master's degrees and certificates across a broad range of social justice disciplines, closing out a vibrant 2016 academic year with special honors to former trustee Stephen Lowey and long-time staff member Beatriz Fantini.
Both Lowey and Fantini were named Honorary Doctors of Humane Letters at the institution's May 21 commencement ceremony on SIT's 200-acre Brattleboro campus. SIT Graduate Institute was established in 1964 to train future leaders by giving them an understanding of the differences between cultures.
SIT President Donald Steinberg said Lowey and Fantini each exemplify the institution's commitment to intercultural exchanges and international education, which contribute to building a more peaceful and just world.
Fantini, who is retiring this year after 50 years at the institution, has helped SIT be a pioneer and thought-leader in the field of experiential, field-based graduate education,
"Her generosity, dedication, and leadership continues to inspire students, colleagues, and partners today and will continue to do so for many years to come," said Steinberg.
Since 1966, Fantini has worked in numerous capacities, including as a Spanish teacher, teacher trainer, and supervisor for both the Graduate Institute and SIT Study Abroad. Most recently she served as director of the Language and Culture Department at SIT Graduate Institute.
Lowey first became involved with World Learning in 1952, when he joined an Experiment trip to France; later, in 1957, he led a group there. He is a graduate of Woodmere Academy, Harvard College, and Columbia Law School and served in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve from 1959 to 1967 and as assistant U.S. attorney, Eastern District of New York, from 1961 to 1964. He co-founded Lowey Dannenberg Cohen & Hart, P.C., a highly regarded law firm representing institutional and individual investors and consumers.
Steinberg said Lowey has been "a change-maker for the better part of seven decades," who has helped to reaffirm SIT's commitment to experiential graduate education and "set a path for an even stronger, more impactful future."
Lowey held a trusteeship with World Learning from 1986 to 2000 and was board chairman from 1997 to the end of his term. In 2000, he was named chair emeritus and received The Experiment Citation Award. He oversaw creation of the first scholarships for the Experiment, which today provides more financial aid than any other high school exchange program. In 1995, he and his wife, Nita Lowey, a member of Congress from New York, endowed a scholarship fund to enable high school students from their Westchester County community to have the same kind of life-changing experience he had.
This year's student commencement speaker was Christina Foster of Albuquerque, N.M., who received her Master of Arts in intercultural service, leadership, and management. Foster helped to start an on-campus organization, the Racial Justice Alliance, and organized a demonstration to commemorate the many black lives lost in the United States to police violence. She recently completed her internship with HABESHA, Inc. in Atlanta, where she helped to establish the Kweku Andoh Sustainability Institute in Ghana. Foster plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Africana studies.