Donna Swaim Memorial Scholarship Endowed

December 9th, 2021

The legacy of Dr. Donna Swaim, a beloved humanities professor who taught at the university for 50 years, will continue with a study abroad scholarship bearing her name.


A crowdfunding effort this fall to raise money for The Donna Swaim International Award for Religious Studies, which began in 2014 to mark her retirement, reached its goal of creating an endowment, ensuring that her legacy of enriching students' lives will continue in perpetuity.


More than 100 donors, largely former students and friends, contributed $25,418 during the campaign. The scholarship will help students study the religions of the world in the contexts of their own cultures through study abroad opportunities, which was a passion for Swaim, who created some of the university’s first study abroad trips, starting in 1979, before there was even a formal structure to do so.


“We are extremely happy that through this endowment, Donna can continue to offer the gift of travel and connection to others for years to come,” said Swaim’s daughter Katy Brown, speaking on behalf of the family. “Our mother/wife loved learning. She loved human connections, sharing stories and ideas. Through travel, she was able to explore places, people and ideas that she had only read about. It enriched her life. She loved sharing that experience with students. It is an avenue for personal growth that is unparalleled. To experience cultures and religions around the world through study abroad will help to build community and understanding.”


In total, Swaim led students on 24 trips abroad, visiting a wide array of countries including England, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Spain, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Mali, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Romania, Moldova, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Iceland & the Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Nepal and Cambodia.


“We are honored to continue the legacy of Dr. Donna Swaim through providing scholarships in her name to future generations of students seeking to study abroad,” said Karen Seat, Head of the Department of Religious Studies and Classics. “Through the endowment, her story will continue to be told and her impact will continue to be felt by students, in perpetuity. We are committed to sharing her vision of expanding students’ horizons through meaningful engagement with cultures around the world.”