JYM Alumni News 2020: Special Edition for Dr. Mark Ferguson

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SPECIAL EDITION! JYM wishes Mark Ferguson a Happy Retirement!

A Wild


Windy Road: 25 Years


JYM Program Director

-By Dr. Mark Ferguson, JYM Program Director, 1995-2020


t was summer 1995 when Louise Speed picked me up from the airport and asked me what I thought about the idea of being the Program Director of the Junior Year in Germany programs in Munich and Freiburg. I was just returning from Germany where I had been doing research on early cinema in the industrial Ruhrgebiet. Four years earlier I had arrived at Wayne State University. Before that I had a one-year sabbatical replacement position at Bates College in Maine, and before that I spent two years teaching at the Universität Essen in the Ruhrgebiet. Even though I started at Wayne State in fall of 1991 with a one-year lectureship (possibly renewable from one year to the next, but with no guarantee), I naively thought that if I just remained calm and patient, a tenure-track job might open up in Detroit. Life was good, teaching was fun and the biggest stress I had was whether to wait until 11pm or midnight before walking over a few blocks to the Music Menu Cafe in Detroit’s Greektown to wind down after a “stressful” day of preparing the next day’s classes. Little did I know how my life would change when I accepted the appointment as Program Director! The idea of becoming the Program Director of the Munich and Freiburg programs sounded like a lot of fun. For one, I figured I knew all about study abroad, after all I had been an AFS student to Thailand in high school and a Junior Year in Freiburg student while an undergraduate at UW-Madison. Plus I had studied and/or worked in Mainz, Bonn, Berlin, Paris and Essen. What else was there to know? Boy, was I in for a lesson!


At first I needed to learn the basics, namely that the JY Freiburg and JY Munich were two separate programs with very different administrative structures (Munich was a stand-alone program launched in 1953; Freiburg was started in 1960 when there wasn’t enough room in Munich to accommodate student interest and then grew into a consortium of three other universities 1964-68). What I didn’t know, however, was that both programs were in trouble. The Freiburg consortium had become an unhappy marriage with irreconcilable differences and it soon would be up to me to shepherd the dissolution of that program. And the Munich program had barely survived a “perfect storm” of lower than anticipated enrollments coupled with a bad exchange rate and unsustainable fee structure resulting in a $90K deficit that Wayne State University covered on the condition that I would be the one to fix it or lose it. What was it like to be JYM Program Director all these years? Well, one thing I found out quickly was that JYM Mark Ferguson at Wayne State University, 1991 had to be run like a business. JYM was (and still is) entirely self-financing, it gets no funds from Wayne State University to operate and pay the bills. And we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars on an annual basis (expenses for a normal JYM year today run about $800,000 or more). That is guaranteed to keep you awake at night! The only money available to run all aspects of the program comes solely from student fees paid to JYM. My new job was to make sure that JYM could cover student and office rents; health insurance; university fees; office utilities, maintenance and insurance; all instruction; all salaries & benefits in both Munich and Detroit, etc. Gone were the days where all I had to do was teach and stay up late at night pondering pre-Freudian theories of narcissism in relation to narrative strategies in Rainer Maria Rilke’s prose! I now had a different kind of a job with different kinds of worries that got me up at 4 am every day for the next 25 years. My day began by checking the USD-EUR exchange rate, diving into stock market futures and foreign exchange forecasts, reading about political or legislative developments in the US and in Germany that might impact study abroad in general and JYM in particular, and monitoring a wide range of trends in study abroad in Germany all that before I would turn to addressing things in Munich I needed to get to before their day was over (because of the time difference). The hardest part of my job was figuring out how to have two full-time jobs, because for 25 years I was both a lecturer in the German department as well as JYM Program Director. I finally understood what real stress was all about. Not only because I had to come up with hundreds of thousands of dollars to run JYM, but even more importantly because people’s lives and livelihoods depended on me getting it right. I remember thinking when I first started that just maybe that course I took in Freiburg when I was a JY student where we read Marx’s Kapital (in the original, of course) would finally be useful. And actually, it was — but not as I imagined it as an idealistic undergraduate at the time. I was now on the “other side” and needed to learn all about business, something that my graduate training in 18th century aesthetics and early 20th century modernism didn’t really cover. Pretty quick I had to learn all about German and EU labor law. I had to learn about the ways that global politics, the price of oil, the stock market and US Federal Reserve interest rates all impact foreign currency exchange rates because 80% of JYM expenses are linked to exchange rates and any bottoming out directly impacted JYM’s finances. I had to learn about the study abroad market for a program like JYM, who are our friends, who are our competitors, and who are the faculty members, study abroad advisors and upper level administrators across the entire US I needed to meet. In addition I had to learn about marketing and advertising, program development, alumni relations and of course fundraising. And then too I needed to learn how university bureaucracy operated in ways I never encountered or knew about before as a lecturer. I must admit, I never knew beforehand how much I would eventually end up really enjoying the competitive side of promoting JYM. I am so incredibly proud of the JYM program and its remarkable history as the first junior year abroad program in post-war Germany and as the longest, continuously running study abroad program in Germany. 67 years and counting!! But JYM’s longevity was not guaranteed. Study abroad was changing dramatically and at light-speed when I came on board. Whereas for most of JYM’s history there were few competitors (JYM, after all, re-booted study abroad in post-war Germany), and those programs that did exist were modeled after JYM, the “business” of study abroad was changing. Study abroad was becoming professionalized in unprecedented ways.


By the time I came on board, the goal of universities and colleges was not to send students to study at


foreign universities (which was the mission of the junior year abroad movement that began in the 1920s), but rather to get as many students as possible to have some kind of international experience. The old-fashioned and traditional notion of study abroad, which required a year-long commitment on the part of students who had prepared themselves linguistically in a second language, was looked upon as elitist and exclusionary. In order to make study abroad more diverse, study abroad became education abroad. Any type of organized educational experience abroad for which students were granted credit was considered education abroad. At education abroad conferences I even heard junior year abroad programs such as JYM referred to as dinosaurs, slowly waddling off into extinction, I suppose. As the number of education abroad programs hit the roof in the 1990s, a veritable education abroad industry emerged. And as the industry grew, education abroad became more and more professionalized. Standards of best practices were developed and expanded and developed and expanded again and again, often drawing upon a new field of scientific research that expressed the value of education abroad in mathematical formulas designed to quantify not only a student’s experience abroad, but also to legitimize and validate the profession of education abroad as a scientific discipline itself. (Wow - that was a mouthful, but true! Someday I may have to write more about that.) Yes indeed, study abroad as JYMers knew it decades ago had changed. But all of us at JYM met the challenges of a new era of study abroad head-on, while still remaining true to the spirit and mission of the program as it was first conceived. As with any organization, everyone at JYM has their role to play. And I feel so immensely fortunate to have worked with such a special team of special people over the course of 25 years. Dr. Hans-Peter Söder came on board as Resident Director in 1994 and I joined the JYM team in 1995. Following in the footsteps of the legendary Dr. Marianne Riegler (aka FDR), the task was formidable and not easy for Hans-Peter (aka HP). In Munich we benefited from the dedicated assistance of Helen Call, Phoedra Wickstrom and Lena Bittl in the front office during the early years, until we finally arrived at a stable team of Academic Coordinators with Sommer Forschner and Patricia Thill for the past 15 years. But the lifeline between the FDR era and Ferguson/Söder era was Louise Speed in Detroit, who stepped in to help administer both the Munich and Freiburg programs when Eleanor Tudor retired after her husband’s tragic death. Hans-Peter and I may have had a bunch of ideas about how to bring JYM into the 21st century, but Louise was always the ultimate go-to oracle we needed to consult before we acted on anything. It did not go unnoticed to either of us that she a had a sign on her door which said: “Möchten Sie den Chef sprechen, oder jemanden, der sich auskennt?”! I think we accomplished a heck of a lot during the past 25 years, especially given the challenges of 1994/95 when we started out with zero money in reserve and had to struggle tooth and nail for every student and for every step forward. In response to a changing study abroad student body as more and more students joined JYM from the social sciences and business, we introduced a number of new Program Features in Munich which have become stable components of JYM today, such as a one-semester study abroad option, internship opportunities, and independent research projects. On the Munich side of JYM we updated JYM courses (which in the past had been designed to fulfill broad general education courses), so that they took much more advantage of the unique cultural, historical and social assets that Munich has to offer.

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Whenever possible we wanted to include experiential components to JYM courses because this type of learning opportunity was not found in LMU courses. We also added new JYM Topics courses that responded to student interests in politics and public policy, ecology, sustainable energy, nature and the environment. We made independent study and internships credit-bearing course work options with Undergraduate Research Project and Overseas Internship. And we responded to student extracurricular interests (that would vary from year to year) by arranging activities and excursions such as the European Cities Seminars, Italienische Reise, JYM Scholars program, Munich Summer Fellows program, JYM Summit Club and JYM Croquet Club and more. And we accomplished all this by still remaining true to JYM’s primary mission, namely to provide the support needed for students to take courses at LMU Munich. The proof is in the pudding, as Brecht said. On average JYM students would take well over 100 LMU courses annually. Not bad in an era when nearly all study abroad programs in Germany today are but a few weeks long and conducted in English! On the Detroit side of JYM, I worked with Dr. Dallas Kenny to create German Bridge – die neue Brücke (19982003), a public and private sector partnership that connected German and German-American business interests with higher education in metro Detroit. This resulted in many guest speaker events video-conferenced between Detroit and Munich with members of the German government and representatives of German business. JYM even caught the attention of the State of Michigan which was interested in expanding its economic footprint globally, which resulted in two Michigan governors and a number of business leaders visiting JYM in Munich to talk about global workforce development. This was the time when I became very much involved with the German-American community in Michigan, where – because of the fact that there were 350 German companies at the time – I was able to help many JYM alumni find internships or jobs where they could use their German language and intercultural skills. The Detroit side of JYM was also where we began efforts to re-connect to JYM alumni. When I came on board in 1995, we had just a handful of names and addresses of JYM alumni (on a reel-to-reel tape kept in a building for Parking!). Louise Speed and I spent many hours, weeks and months slowly hunting down alumni so we could invite them to JYM’s 50th anniversary celebration in Munich in 2003. Today I am super pleased that the efforts started way back then have really flourished to the extent that we now maintain a connection to 83% of JYM’s 4300 alumni. I have always been so proud of JYM alumni who really prove to be a loyal group of program supports by giving year after year to our JYM scholarship funds. The ability of JYM to offer program scholarships at the level we do today makes JYM the envy of all other comparable study abroad programs in Germany. But I think it’s worth noting that this did not come about all by itself as if by magic. It took a lot of hard work connecting to alumni, building up relationships within and beyond the JYM community, countless hours of correspondence and meetings and get-togethers and attending events to promote the idea that giving to JYM is a worthwhile investment. It was difficult to get any kind of fundraising off the ground when I first started given everything else that needed to be done (not to mention moving JYM to a new location in Maxvorstadt), and for the first 15 years I did all the fundraising entirely on my own. From 1995-2002 we had a total of only $19,290 in gifts to JYM’s General Scholarship Fund, which was our only alumni scholarship fund at the time. This amounted to a minuscule $2,755 in alumni giving annually. But ever since the 50th anniversary in 2003, alumni and friends of JYM have come forward not only to replenish our regular scholarship fund every year, but also to help establish new scholarship funds to assist students in financial need. Thanks to the addition of 4 named endowed scholarships and 3 named annual memorial scholarships, in 2018-19 we awarded a total of $68,000 in JYM scholarships! I always felt that one of the unique features of JYM was its afford-ability. Being based at a public university, I felt JYM had an obligation to keep the program fee as low as possible while at the same time high enough to

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cover our expenses. Compared to other junior year abroad programs in Germany with fees ranging from $35,000 to $74,000 per year, JYM has always been at the bottom of the list in terms of its fees. Even at $28,000 per year for tuition, housing and insurance, JYM is $16,000 less than the only other junior year abroad program in Munich (if you deduct $4000 from JYM’s program fee, which is the average full-year scholarship amount, JYM is $20,000 less than that other program in Munich!). I must admit that I really did enjoy the challenge of competing with big-name schools, wealthy schools and huge non-school study abroad providers and feel pretty good that JYM has always been able to offer more for less, and still make the numbers work. Since 1995 I raised more than $3.2 million for the JYM program, and nearly all of it for scholarships. Having significant scholarship funds available for students in need of assistance allowed us to keep the program fee in check, and it was really quite fun to distribute awards to deserving students. There was even one 8-year stretch when we did not increase the JYM program fee at all! And I am so thrilled that JYM finally has a program endowment with the JYM Next Generation Fund to help cover essential operating expenses, which in turn should also allow JYM to keep the program fee affordable moving forward once its grows to a substantial level. But of course, as much as it makes me feel good to list my fundraising successes, none of it would have been possible had it not been for the enthusiasm, engagement and incredible generosity of our alumni and friends of JYM. To all the former JYMers who give back (or pay forward, however you wish to call it) year after year by donating to our scholarships funds, and to all those special people who have gone above and beyond by establishing endowed and annual scholarship funds (you know who you are!), I thank you most profoundly and hope that others will be inspired by your generosity, whether towards JYM or towards some other cause they are passionate about. I have always said that nobody really knows what we do behind the scenes at JYM (and I’m sure that everyone on the JYM team in Detroit in Munich will agree with that!). From the students’ perspective, they arrive in Munich where everything has been set up for them in advance, and then they just take off on their JYM journey. And that’s the way it should be. But it is nice to be appreciated, because working invisibly behind the scenes at JYM can be a thankless job. What ultimately motivated me day after day was to hear from so many alumni over the course of the past 25 years about how JYM impacted their lives. For me, I’ve learned that the lasting impact of the JYM experience outlives any individual moment. It’s one thing for a recent returnee to come back and say how great it was to have done such and such while on JYM, but it’s quite an entirely different thing when former JYMers take the time to send a post card, a letter or an email many, many years later – after all the dust of time has settled – to say that they recently were thinking about their JYM experience and just wanted to let us know how deeply meaningful it was for them. That’s the moment where all our work behind the scenes is validated, and that’s the moment we secretly do the happy dance! I never got that tenure-track job I dreamed about in graduate school, and once I became JYM Program Director, I gave up looking for it. In retrospect I consider myself to have been all the luckier for it, and incredibly fortunate instead to have been involved in a cause greater than myself over the course of my career, greater than any one college or university, greater than any one course I designed and taught (of which there were many!). I must admit, I won’t miss the stress of the job (I’ve passed that on to my friend and competent colleague Prof. Lisa Hock!), but I will miss going through the old files from back then and rescuing more bits of JYM history I’m sure still deserve to be discovered. As we all are well aware, JYM is confronted with unprecedented challenges because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But I am confident that JYM will successfully navigate the unknown and creatively respond to the new circumstances of study abroad in Germany moving forward. After all, JYM has always been “ein Experiment” that has adapted to circumstances year after year for 67 years. As long as there are students willing to embrace the challenges of long-term study abroad in a language not their own, and as long as we continue to support them, JYM will flourish. And if my health holds out, I look forward to celebrating 75 years of JYM in 2028! Until then, I thank you all for enriching my life.

Mark Ferguson with Matthias Winter, a good friend from Mark’s Freiburg years, who helped launch JYM’s internship program



Castor & Pollux: About that Constellation in JYM’s Night Sky By Hans-Peter Söder, Resident Director Wem der große Wurf gelungen, eines Freundes Freund zu sein. . . - Schiller, An die Freude


ark Ferguson and I are joined at the hip. Nowadays, not everyone knows the myth of Castor and Pollux. Known as the Dioscuri, they were the most famous twins in antiquity. They were half-brothers. Their mother was Leda, Queen of Sparta. Castor’s father was the hero Tyndareus (King of Sparta) and Pollux’s father was Zeus himself (who had seduced Leda in the guise of a swan). Hence Castor was mortal, and Pollux immortal. Zeus turned them into a constellation (Gemini), so that they would never be separated. Mark and I also have a mother in common. We both were nourished on bosom of the Liberal Arts. (Evidently, the artist has mislabeled the twins. Mark would be drinking the ale, I the champagne.)

A central component of a liberal arts education is trust. Trust (traust from Old Norse) refers to a number of virtues: veracity, integrity, confidence, solidity, steadfastness, reliance, faith, and fidelity. What characterized our decades of working together was this kind of mutual trust. I knew that he would do the right thing for the program in the U.S., and he knew that I would do the same in Germany. For nearly twenty five years Mark chaperoned JYM through a rapidly changing academic environment. Business German, English-language offerings, island programs; there were many academic cliffs, but Mark managed to hold a steady course while staving off the wolves of the study abroad industry. “Steering through cliffs” and “fending off wolves” are mixed metaphors of course, but I like the picture of this motley pack of wolves, their long tongues hanging out, rowing furiously, and trying to catch up with the sleek, solitary schooner JYM. Trust was the secret to our success. This trust made it possible that there was minimal red tape and maximum creativity. Mark would say, “I don’t know how all of this fits in over there, but if you think students will go for it, go

On a night train back to Munich, Mark Ferguson and HansPeter Söder with Dr. Dallas Kenny (front), WSU, returning from a business trip to Bonn, 1999.

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ahead.” We were experimenting with undergraduate research before the word became a buzzword in the U.S. (thereby making JYM a standard of quality at the Fulbright Foundation). When I thought that we should try to challenge our students by confronting them with one of Europe’s greatest writers, Mark replied, “Gosh, no one does Goethe over here anymore, but if you think it will fly, go ahead.” The rest is history. Goethe’s Italian Journey became one of our most popular courses. I could go on and on like this, but let me say a little about this photograph. It will answer your question of which one of us is Pollux and which one Castor. The German Secretary of State, Otto Schily, was visiting Wayne State University. The enterprising founder of Wayne’s Foreign Language Technology Center (known as The Global Bridge) Dallas Kenny (see photo previous page) talked Mark into approaching him to see if he would support JYM. Minister Schily gave out his card, and said that we should contact him via the undersecretary in charge. Off we went on the Rheingold Express to Bonn. In the undersecretary’s spacious office, it soon became apparent that we were in the midst of party politics. We were asked to work something out so that we could closely cooperate with the Universität Kassel (500 km from Munich), the home district of the undersecretary. Mark declined the offer: “We are in Munich and we can’t spread ourselves too thin. Kassel is not feasible.” That was the end of that. In the photo you see us on the way back from Bonn. Elated for not having sold out JYM and its long history for a few bucks, we felt like young gods. What I continue to admire about Mark is his scrupulous honesty and integrity. In order to advance his career, he could have gone after every new trend in study abroad; he could have grown here, expanded there, trying every new flavor of the month in education. But he saw his task in keeping JYM’s mission alive (educating the few Americans seriously interested in German). This was not a glamorous choice. One does not get credit for living within one’s means. Other study abroad programs in Germany have gone the new-flavor-of-the-month route and have since folded or sold out. For those interested in serious academic study in Germany, there are now very few options left. They are getting fewer every year. Thanks to Mark Ferguson, JYM remains one of the serious and solid options. This is an accomplishment. And for this reason, he is Pollux and I am Castor. Hats off to you, Mark! It is an honor and a privilege to be your friend.

WSU President Roy Wilson‘s site visit to the Junior Year Program in July 2017. At the Rational Theater - back ltr, Hans-Peter Söder, Ahmad Ezzeddine (WSU OIP), middle ltr: Pres. Wilson, Mark Ferguson and WSU‘s Provost Whitfield, front ltr: JYM alum, Josh Bauer with Lena Bittl, former JYM academic coordinator (1998-2004)

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Farewell Tributes to Mark from Colleagues Past and Present! -By Dr. Lisa Hock, Interim Director of Junior Year in Munich, Associate Professor of German at WSU


fter 29 years at Wayne State University and 25 years as the Program Director of the Junior Year in Munich Program, Dr. Mark Ferguson is retiring. His congeniality, his sense of humor, and his non-stop hard work will be sorely missed by his colleagues in the WSU German area, the Department of Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, at the University, and at the Junior Year in Munich campus. He departs with many accomplishments, perhaps the greatest of which is a quarter century of students from Wayne State and around the country who had the opportunity to spend a semester or year as part of the oldest U.S. study abroad program in Germany. Himself an alum of a WSU study abroad program (he participated in the WSU Junior Year in Freiburg Program in 1976-77), Mark arrived at Wayne State in 1991 with a Ph.D. from the University Wisconsin-Madison and teaching experience at the University of Wisconsin, the Gesamthochschule of the University of Essen, and Bates College. He quickly proved himself to be a multi-faceted, flexible, and well-liked teacher, earning a College of Liberal Arts Teaching Award five years after his arrival. In more recent years, he has willingly and enthusiastically taught German classes at the intermediate and advanced levels as well as graduate seminars on Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture, Modernism, and Weimar Film. One thing his colleagues have appreciated about Mark has been his willingness to try new ideas. After teaching his popular German culture class in face-to-face format for many years, he worked with the German area to design a new online culture class and generously contributed materials for it. As a final project in this year’s film course, he had his graduate students work together to design a syllabus for an undergraduate course on German film. Mark has also directed several MA Essays, and one of his students, Dr. Julie Koehler, is now a member of CMLLC. Mark has generously participated in service activities in the German area, CMLLC, and at the College and University levels. He served from 2005-2015 on the CLAS Faculty Council and was Council Secretary for five of those years. From 2005-2018, he organized and hosted the spring meeting of the Michigan branch of the American Association of Teachers of German. He has also headed the Concordia and Faulhaber Committees, which distribute scholarship funds to WSU students of German, many of whom use the support to study abroad.

While he has contributed greatly to WSU, Mark’s crowning achievement during his time at Wayne State has been his directorship of the JYM program, a role that has engaged his many talents as administrator, fundraiser, pedagogue, and scholar, and that has involved outreach to over 35 other Colleges and Universities whose students participate in this program alongside WSU students. As administrator, Mark expanded the Junior Year program to offer both one- and two-semester options. He oversaw the move of the JYM Institute in Munich to a beautiful, spacious location near many of Munich’s well-known museums. He engaged in active outreach, using alumni newsletters and social media to connect to nearly 5000 alumni of the Junior Year program. Mark has also been an energetic and highly effective fundraiser, working to raise $3.2 million in donations, including 8 different JYM scholarship funds that allow the program to award $60,000 in annual scholarship assistance. On top of the sweatequity he has invested into the program, Mark teamed up with the Munich Program Director, Dr. Hans-Peter Söder, to establish the very first JYM program endowment, the Dr. Hans-Peter Söder and Dr. Mark Ferguson Next Generation JYM Endowed fund.

Lisa Hock (back left) with Mark Ferguson and M.A. Students celebrating graduation

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While administrative and fundraising work keeps the lights on and the wheels turning, the goal of JYM is to provide our students with an international educational experience that cannot be replicated here in the U.S., and Mark has worked to continually improve both the language instruction and the content of JYM offerings. Keeping abreast with trends in second-language pedagogy, he worked with the Munich campus to expand German

language instruction and proficiency assessments. He has updated course offerings to meet the needs of 21st-century students, so that there are now offerings on Green Germany and an internship program with an innovative portfolio requirement. He has created both a website with activities to prepare students for their year abroad and a JYM Job Board to help alumni find post- graduation jobs that allow them to use their linguistic and intercultural skills. Mark also conducted, presented, and published research in the area of best practices of study abroad, and he has promoted research through study abroad. He worked to expand undergraduate research opportunities. Several Honors students have conducted research for and / or completed their Honors Essays while abroad. The JYM campus has initiated and hosted numerous transatlantic conferences, talks, and events, including visits by two Michigan Governors and by the current WSU President and Provost. Mark’s last challenge as JYM director was the big one that all of us are facing right now: Covid-19. For the first time in 67 years, the 2019-20 JYM program had to be suspended due to the pandemic. Together with the Munich director, he worked non-stop to get the students back to the U.S. quickly and safely, and then he supported work to get online courses up and running so that those students would not fall behind in their plans of work. Most importantly, he has left JYM in such very good financial and academic shape that it can weather the current storm and move optimistically into the future. He will be greatly missed, yet he will remain present in all that he has accomplished.

-By Jackie Smith, Program Coordinator at Junior Year in Munich


joined the JYM team in January 2018 and worked alongside Dr. Mark Ferguson until his retirement in May 2020. It was a privilege to work with Mark at the end of his tenure as Director of JYM. I was able to see the significant impact that he made to JYM, and on countless lives. I appreciate all of the work he put in to leading such a special program for 25 years. During over two years of working with Mark, I learned invaluable lessons from him. Mark taught me that the work we do at the JYM has a long-lasting impact. He knew the importance of study abroad, the unique way German culture and studies impacts a person in so many areas of their life, for their entire lifetime. I mean that quite literally, as Mark got to know alumni from the program dating back to the 1950s. He would often regale me with stories of what alumni shared with him about their time at JYM, how they took inspiration from that year and wove it into the rest of their lives. It may sound simple to say that alumni tell us that JYM was the best year of their life. However, when you continually hear stories about this being the case, you learn to understand how important our program is. Mark never forgot this, and he did not take the task of leading such a program lightly. He never stopped working and was committed to his role. It seems impossible to measure the impact that Mark made as Director of the Junior Year in Munich program because he did it all; program development, supervising the staff, creating the budget, financial management, marketing and promotion, recruitment, designing the website, archiving the historical significance of America’s oldest study abroad program with Germany, and successful fundraising. All these duties were in addition to his role as a WSU German faculty member! He led the program for 25 years, making decisions that ensured the program’s survival in an international education landscape where long term, language immersive programs are declining. In his final months of leading JYM, he dealt with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and the evacuation of our students from Munich. Each time there was a crisis he remained calm, deliberate, and decisive. Mark is humble, but I believe that his leadership is why our program still exists today. He built a legacy that will not be forgotten. Beyond all of his outstanding professional leadership, Mark is also truly a good person. He is kind, generous, and loves animals. He deeply cares about people, and I saw how he continually provided students the opportunity to grow and succeed. I feel grateful that Mark hired me, that I got to work alongside him for such an extraordinary program as JYM. Most importantly, I am honored to know Mark, and to call him a mentor and a friend. Congratulations on your well-deserved retirement Mark! Cheers to you!

Photo right, f.l.t.r. Jackie Smith, Louise Speed, Cathy Ebelke and Mark Ferguson at the Junior Year in Munich office in Manoogian Hall at Wayne State University in October 2019

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Farewell Tributes to Mark from Colleagues Past and Present! - By Louise Speed, Retired JYM Assistant to Director


magine Mark’s surprise when he returned from a trip to Germany in the summer of 1995 to have me casually mention on the way back from the airport that the JYF/JYM Directorship had been more or less thrust upon him. Both the Freiburg and Munich programs were in crisis with the JYF consortium having recently imploded and the JYM running a $95,000 budget deficit. Others at WSU had thrown up their hands and headed for the hills, and the financial crisis had caught the ire of Wayne State’s president who was not in the least amused. I had already been working with the programs for many years at that time, so of course it’s true to say that I taught Mark everything he knows. At that time, he was just fresh off the dissertation boat, still waxing eloquent about the dialectic of desire and the phantasy of memory in Rilke’s Malte Laurids Brigge. He had little to no administrative experience at all and was facing a long list of complex dire straits. And, I mean, what can you even do with a PhD in German literature? Munich budget deficit. Check! Freiburg program closing. Check! Lawsuits pending in Germany. Check! Unsustainable Program fee structure. Check! Fundraising nonexistent. Check! No alumni database or alumni relations. Check! No German-American community outreach. Check! Lack of coherent advertising and recruitment strategies. Check! Dangerously dwindling enrollments. Check! That was the first couple of years. Over the next two decades, Mark and Hans-Peter worked seamlessly together to become a powerhouse of leadership in Detroit and Munich. An improved and innovative JYM emerged while still remaining true to its original mission and conception. A very popular second semester option was initiated, internships and independent studies became commonplace, the curriculum was updated (several times) to reflect current student needs, multiple scholarship opportunities were created and, not least, a positive fund balance was maintained Louise Speed showing off the JYM poster used from that very first year on. Under Mark’s leadership, the JYM again at study abroad fairs. Louise was at WSU from caught the attention of the new WSU President, but this time with all 1980-2018 smiles! (We are forever grateful to President Irvin Reid for his stellar support of JYM.) Few people know that Mark taught himself how to create and maintain a website for the JYM which he has completely overhauled using new web design software at least three times.

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Well, ok, so maybe there’s a couple of things you can do with a Ph.D. in German, but I still maintain that without me he wouldn’t have figured out that one crucial Excel formula for the budget. That, and the outstanding team in Munich, Sommer Forschner, Patrizia Thill, and formerly Lena Bittl, made it a breeze for Mark and Hans-Peter to succeed. A dream team indeed! Wayne State and JYM were extremely fortunate to have Mark at the helm for so many years, and it was my privilege to have had the pleasure of working alongside him. Alles Gute, Mark, und Vielen Dank für Alles!

- By Sommer Forschner, JYM Academic Coordinator in Munich


efore, I knew Mark Ferguson as my boss at the Junior Year in Munich, he was my German professor at Wayne State University. As a graduate student in German studies, Mark inspired my passion for the Weimar era and German film, and soon became my Master’s Essay advisor on those topics. Besides valuable class time, I’ll always treasure the good ole days in Midtown Detroit where he arranged for the Stammtisch at the memorable Cass Café of the Cass Corridor. There we regularly met with our professors, German exchange students and our classmates to speak German in a relaxed atmosphere and have lots of stimulating conversation over dinner and drink. Mark was very engaging and personable in both his teaching style and advising. He was always networking his students and various members of the German-American community in the Detroit metropolitan area. Everyone appreciated his quick wit, his relaxed sense of humor, and wonderful ability to meet students at eye level. As a professor this made him very accessible to us. I also had the good fortune of spending a year as a GTA at Wayne, and with Mark’s support was then awarded of the DAAD Munich Graduate Exchange Fellowship the following year. Once my coursework at the LMU was finished, I began working in Munich full-time at an intellectual property firm while finishing my MA Essay, he reliably advised me via email. Once completed, Mark then made it possible for me to take my MA exam from abroad! I sat in a classroom at JYM in Munich and my German professors sat in the language lab of Manoogian Hall at WSU in Detroit and we were connected by the then state-of- the-art German Bridge video conferencing system - made possible by generous donations from corporate and private sponsors (drummed up by Mark). This long-distance exam may seem banal by today’s standards, in an age when video conferencing is possible on even the smallest of hand held devices, but back in the early 2000s, it was a relatively novel set up! This was how I was able to take and pass my exam, defend my MA Essay and wow all my friends and family, not only because I had finally finished my degree, but because I had taken my exam in Detroit with setting foot on an airplane or taking time off my new job in Munich to fly home - highly innovative in those pre-Skype, pre Zoom days! Indeed, no matter what Mark does, he has always remained abreast of new technologies. Whether it‘s building websites from scratch, connecting JYM through social media channels, navigating the ins-and-outs of Photoshop for promo material, or designing/holding online courses, he is as technically astute as they come. As a student and friend of JYM, I was of course aware Mark wore another hat as director of the Junior Year in Munich program. It wasn’t until I started working at the Junior Program though – Mark hired me 15 years ago now in 2005 – that I fully realized just how much went on behind the scenes. Anybody else would have been spreading themselves too thin having two such major roles to fill – how did he do it? Mark definitely had a supportive team, but even so he inspired the same kind of awe one experiences watching a one-man band seamlessly playing all the instruments at the same time: The language teaching, academic lectures, the business of study abroad, promoting, networking, fundraising, engaging the alumni and partner universities, managing finances, crunching numbers, html, tracking statistics across excel files and charts, and archiving all of it for the future, etc... Indeed he made so many great contributions and boasted loads of business savvy. The sum of everything is cause for wonder. Most importantly perhaps, is the fact that Mark never lost sight of the individual student, always treating each as valuable. Whether dealing with students during their undergraduate years slogging it out in beginning German, opening doors for graduate students like myself, managing JYMers from WSU or other universities or helping returning alumni launch their careers, even long after graduation, he was forever creating opportunites for students and alumni. Mark can be proud of the legacy he leaves behind and can now look forward to new adventures. Though he will be missed, I have a sneaking suspicion he won’t be far removed from the JYM world. I am glad for this! We will hopefully continue to have Patricia and Sommer at JYM‘s 60th his valuable input even as he moves on to “greener” pastures. All the best to you, Mark, for a colorful and fulfilling retirement! Vielen Dank, Prost und bis bald!

Anniversary Celebration in 2013

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Farewell Tributes to Mark from Colleagues Past and Present! - Dr. Alfred Cobbs, Professor Emeritus of German, WSU


hen Dr. Mark Ferguson was appointed program director for the JYM Program in 1995, Wayne State also had a Junior Year in Freiburg program, a consortium with the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Michigan State University, which was in the process of dissolution. Mark was called upon to negotiate for the interest of Wayne State, which he handled deftly and to the satisfaction of the institution. After that he was able to devote his energies full time to the Junior Year in Munich program. In the 25 years Mark served at program director for the JYM program he promoted it as the oldest and best known study abroad program in Germany and threw himself wholehearted in the recruitment of students, increasing the program’s endowment for scholarships, and making the program more flexible in responding to the needs of the student participants. To that end, he and Professor Soeder set up a number of student internships. And in response to economic downturns and currency fluctuations that can have a negative impact on the cash flow of international programs, he and Dr. Soeder worked with a willing donor to endow an income producing fund for such a purpose. In his 25 years of service at program director of the Junior Year in Munich program, Dr. Ferguson has made a lasting impact on the program. He will surely be missed, but we wish him well on his well-deserved retirement!

- By Patricia Thill, JYM Academic Coordinator in Munich Dear Mark, It was great to get to know you during one of your visits to Munich at a time when I just started to teach young Americans (2008 something?). For me it was a new experience and very exciting. It was even much more exciting to get to know the “Big Boss” from Detroit. You were so relaxed and friendly and not bossy at all. What a relief! As I started to work continually in the JYM-Team in 2010 most of our relationship was via email. Nevertheless you were present to JYM any time. Your inputs, changes to policy, quick reaction to incidents always gave me inputs and were sources for consideration. The (email) contact was much closer to Louise, since we had to exchange regularly based on everyday work. I love Louise´s sharp thinking, finding quick solutions Patricia in Detroit during visit to WSU in February 2019 and fine sense of humor. So I guessed, there could be some points, were you are similar (“Great minds think alike”). I didn´t know your private side, until I had the pleasure to be your and Louise´s guest in 2019. You were such a thoughtful host. You gave me a warm welcome to your home, you drove me around, you introduced me to important persons and places at the WSU and you even knew about my interest in culture and gave me best advices. So I had a great impact after a short time stay of three days. I also could learn about your and Louise´s social commitments, which are great! You take care for lost cats and dogs in your neighborhood and put lots of energy, creativity and heart in saving them. Mark always gives this special attentiveness to students, who are socially disadvantaged and always found solutions to help them, to go abroad. This impresses me a lot. It is not the first duty of a program director, but it is a noble one! 12 Thank you! I will miss you at JYM! But hope to see you soon in Munich!


Retirement Messages to Mark from JYM Alumni and Friends of JYM - By Steven Stambaugh (JYM 1971-72)


met Mark Ferguson and Hans-Peter Söder on July 1, 2017. We lunched in the Spaten Restaurant am Max-Joseph-Platz, where I had last dined with FDR in December 2006. We talked at length about the JYM‘s past, present and future, and I was pleased to see they had a consuming passion for the value of the year abroad experience in general and the Junior Year in particular. Having had the good fortune not only to be a JYMer in 1971-72, but also to serve as Frau Doktor Riegler‘s Verwaltungsassistent in 1974-75, I had seen first-hand FDR‘s devotion to the Junior Year; it was quite simply her entire life. And her passion and dedication had made the JYM the premier year abroad program in Germany for American college students. Mark and Hans embodied the same excitement and commitment. Mark shared with me how many things had changed in the +40 years since my time in Munich. Education in general had changed for American students. The value of spending a year living and studying abroad - widely recognized and encouraged in prior years - had sadly diminished in the States. The advent of global technology and social networking had made it more difficult for JYMer‘s to “separate“ from English and American culture and to immerse themselves in the German language and culture. Despite these and others changes and challenges, Mark was firmly convinced the JYM offers its 21st century participants the same transformative language, educational, and cultural experiences that remain deeply valuable to many of us.

Steve during his JYM in 1971-72

Mark, you richly deserve a fun, relaxing, and even adventurous retirement. Your many contributions to the Junior Year in Munich will endure for many more generations of JYMers. Take care, my very dear friend!

Steve during his time as JYM Assistant to Frau Dr. Riegler (1975, Englischer Garten)

Steve Stambaugh is enjoying the show at the Rational Theater in Munich during WSU President Wilson‘s site visit in 2017. Steve is the major donor to the Mark Ferguson & Hans-Peter Söder JYM Next Generation Endowed Fund that was created because of his generosity! Steve is a regular visitor to Munich and highly active within the JYM alumni community - JYM is very grateful to have Steve‘s undying support!

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Retirement Messages to Mark from JYM Alumni and Friends of JYM Maria Rousseva (JYM 2000-01) Some people come into our lives and have a profound impact on our futures. Mark has been one of those people for me. Academically and professionally, he has been instrumental in helping me achieve major milestones and has guided me to and through so many opportunities for growth. I first met Mark when I took my very first German class at Wayne State as a sophomore. It was Business German and there I first learned of JYM. Study abroad hadn’t been on my radar, but before I knew it, I was sitting on a plane to Munich, double-majored in German and began my “love affair” with Germany, its people and culture that has lasted throughout my life. It was Mark who helped me get involved as a volunteer at the GermanAmerican Chamber of Commerce in Michigan, recommended that I apply for the Munich Graduate Exchange Fellowship which took me back to Munich as a graduate student, and forwarded me a job posting that led to a career with Deloitte and an assignment to Germany with Daimler where I ultimately met my husband. Furthermore, I can‘t fail to mention Mark’s support with finding internships during and after college, writing me letters of recommendation, helping me apply for scholarships and serving as my master‘s thesis advisor. He has helped me in so many ways that I think I wouldn’t be where I am today had I not met him. Through his dedication to JYM and its students, he has touched and surely changed so many people’s lives. And I will forever be grateful to him for his belief in me, his encouragement and support, and the opportunities he helped me turn into successes. I’ve continued my international adventures that started with JYM with my husband now having lived in Australia and currently in South Africa. Who knows where life will take us next...Germany, the US or yet another continent. But I know that my passion and appreciation for different cultures, languages and travel started with JYM and I owe that amazing experience to Mark. Thank you, Mark for making a difference in my life. I wish you all the best in retirement! Liebe Grüße!

Halyna (Mishchanyn) Feng (JYM 2007-08) Dear Mark, When I heard about your retirement plans, I remember what I thought: professors like you can never really retire. Even if you are not in your office at WSU, you will continue to do amazing things that inspire people, teach them, support them and show them the way forward. I am blessed to have had you as my professor (who has a great sense of humor), my JYM director (who was always keeping his fingers crossed for me) and a person who connected me with the Mercedes-Benz/ Daimler world where I successfully started my career and met wonderful people. You are one of those people who connects the dots, people and networks faster than one can imagine. Thank you for everything you did for me! Thank you for your endless support, motivation, guidance and for being an amazing person who I always hope to keep in touch with! Happy retirement and ganz liebe Grüße aus Stuttgart!

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Daniel Dierolf (JYM 2011-12) The news of Professor Ferguson’s retirement came to me as quite a surprise. The world is changing at an ever-faster pace and time flashes by. It has already been nearly a decade since I had the privilege of studying abroad through JYM and the connection to JYM did not stop there. Over the years as an alumnus, I have had the pleasure of attending various events with Professor Ferguson to support the JYM program and to thank those who make it possible. From Wayne State to Detroit Diesel to the Carpathia club to an occasional Bierchen at Ye Olde Tap Room, the help and guidance from Mark have proven to be invaluable in my career. Currently, I am living in German again as a Daimler employee. This time not in Munich, but in Stuttgart. Much of my success I owe to Mark. He inspired me with Daimler career perspective events on Wayne State’s campus on a few occasions, which ultimately led to my full-time employment at Daimler, who has been my employer for over 5 years. During this time, Mark asked me to lead a workshop at Detroit Diesel to illustrate to prospective WSU candidates what sort of great opportunities are available to German studies students at Daimler. This was a great opportunity as we were able to provide some insight as well as a plant tour to around a dozen participants. Mark did not inspire just at formally organized events, but also in side-bar dialogues. He and I have had many conversations and one early on in my career comes to mind now. Mark expressed to me that I was a good communicator and could “interact with anyone.” As a self-professed introvert, this piece of feedback came to me as a great confidence boost and occasionally to this day I still remember it and take it to heart. I know that Mark will continue to inspire after going into retirement. My sincerest gratitude to Mark for his help and guidance over the years and I wish him a great and fulfilling retirement. Bleib gesund und genieße den Ruhestand! Mit besten Grüßen!

Jim Stokes/Fred Hoffmann (Michigan German Honorary Consul and Friend of JYM) Jim writes: sad but happy for you Mark. Fred and I had many years of making memories with you and JYM. I look forward to making many more with you and Louise. Christina Griesser (President, German-American Professional Womens’ Association, Michigan) Mark, We will so miss you. You are a cornerstone of the German community. All the best for the future! Donald Haase (Associate Dean, Former Chair, German/Slavic) Well done, Mark! You‘ve had a huge impact in your three decades at Wayne. Hard for me to imagine you‘ve taught your last class and are retiring. Gina Grabke Funari (JYF alumna, former student) Hard to believe I was in Mark‘s first class! I think there were 6-7 of us! And you made a huge impact! Congrats Mark! Claudio Verani (Associate Dean, CLAS, took Mark’s film course last semester) It was a great class indeed, with toast and applause. It’s a bit hard to think that you won’t be teaching next semester. Cheers to new projects, as soon as we can leave home... Roslyn Schindler (Wife of former JYM/JYF Director, Marvin Schindler, former colleague in German, JYM benefactor/ friend) I am thinking of Marvin right now--and always--and that he would also wish you all the very best. He would also thank you for being such an amazing Director for all these years. And I thank you also. Petra Visscher (Former study abroad official at several universities, former member of JYM Executive Committee) Smart move, Fergie!

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vom JYM zum

DETROIT OFFICE Junior Year in Munich Wayne State University 906 W. Warren Ave. 401 Manoogian Hall Detroit MI 48202 Tel. (313) 577-4605 JYM@wayne.edu MUNICH OFFICE Junior Year in Munich an der Universität München Richard-Wagner-Str. 27 80333 Munich, Germany Tel. 011-49-89 / 52 30 26 36 junioryear@lrz.uni-muenchen.de INTERIM PROGRAM DIRECTOR Lisabeth Hock, Ph.D. PROGRAM COORDINATOR Jackie Smith, M.A. RESIDENT DIRECTOR Hans-Peter Söder, Ph.D. ACADEMIC COORDINATORS Patricia Thill, M.A. Sommer Forschner, M.A.







Unfortunately, this year‘s Oktoberfest was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as was Mark Ferguson‘s retirement party planned for last summer in Munich. Instead, at an online Zoom retirement party in May 2020 with just the staff, we toasted to Mark and gave him this rain-check invitation! We hope to host Mark Ferguson and Louise Speed for the next Oktoberfest 2021 and have a proper celebration! *This is a copy of one of the 68 winning contenders for the O‘Fest 2020 Poster, repurposed here :-)