Melrose Center for Global Civic Engagement Established

To uphold its commitment to global citizenship, Ursinus College has established the Melrose Center for Global Civic Engagement in honor of the late U.S. Ambassador Joseph H. Melrose Jr. ’66.

The Melrose Center seeks to develop future global leaders through unprecedented learning opportunities that will allow students to engage with global leaders to help enact social change.

Melrose embodied the ideal of global citizenship and, while at Ursinus, advocated for a liberal arts curriculum that cultivated sensitivity to cultural, demographic, economic and political differences. A former U.S. ambassador to Sierra Leone, he is best known for serving the country during its civil war and brokering a peace treaty to bring an end to hostilities.

He led multiple efforts to help U.S. embassies recover from hostile situations or terror attacks, and was instrumental in establishing the first certification process for diamonds, so that “blood diamonds” did not enter the retail stream. 

Melrose returned to his alma mater in 2002 to serve as professor of politics and international relations and the college’s ambassador-in-residence. 

“The Melrose Center for Global Civic Engagement will foster an ongoing service commitment that puts the ideals of global and civic service into practice,” Ursinus College President Brock Blomberg says. “Our students are focused on becoming leaders in an interconnected world and we’re excited to provide this opportunity to allow them to gain an understanding of different cultures, and to grow a network of students and alumni committed to addressing the issues global citizens face.”

Ursinus College’s third interdisciplinary center will support a cohort of Ursinus students who will be selected as global civic fellows and experience service-learning research in locations all over the world. The fellows will take courses emphasizing social and global issues; design and implement civic engagement projects to enhance community-based organizations; and travel abroad to engage in service learning initiatives.

“The center will enable my father’s work at Ursinus to continue,” says Joseph Melrose’s son, Andrew Melrose, president of Melrose Associates, LLC. “The achievements he was most proud of were not the awards or decorations he earned, or even the accomplishments of his students, but the human beings they became. This effort to bridge the academic and practical, as well as the local and international, tries to replicate the way he taught and strives to expose future students to a world that is both more complicated and simpler than we often realize.”

Additionally, Ursinus will launch a series of public forums and lectures led by nationally-recognized thought leaders of contemporary global issues; a Melrose Visiting Scholar Program to enhance the richness and diversity of teaching and scholarly activities at Ursinus; and endow scholarships enabling Melrose Fellows to gain international internship experience. The Melrose Center will expand opportunities for students involved in the Ursinus National Model United Nations, the Peace Corps Prep Program, and the Bonner Leader Program.

“The Melrose Center gives Ursinus the opportunity to carry on Ambassador Melrose’s legacy by providing students with real-world experiences and insights. It continues his commitment to both local and global engagement, giving students an opportunity to bridge classroom learning with hands-on commitment to community development, close to home and around the world,” says Rebecca Evans, an associate professor of politics at Ursinus and a founding faculty member for the Melrose Center.

While teaching at Ursinus, Melrose served as president of the board at the National Model United Nations and acting U.S. Representative for management and reform at the United States Mission to the United Nations. He gained the nickname “Mr. Fixit” from a news reporter after he coordinated the U.S. State Department’s Sept. 11 Task Force.

“It is extremely important for students to understand the global system in order to solve the complicated social, political, and economic problems of today,” says Gary McClellan ’66, a former senior intelligence officer for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency whose estate gift will endow the Melrose Center. “This is exactly the type of insight and opportunity they will receive through the center, and might not have anywhere else.” – By Ed Moorhouse