Interested in pursuing an American degree in France? Learn about options through IAU's degree-granting institution - The American College of the Mediterranean.

Bachelor's and Master's Programs

Alumni Newsletter - Spring 2020

Edition no. 24 
Spring 2020

Table of Contents

On-Campus at IAU Alumni Events Get Involved
Giving Back to IAU News from Our Alumni

Do you have any updates or information you would like to share in the next alumni newsletter? Contact or call 1.800.221.2051 to share your story. We'd love to hear from you! 

On-Campus at IAU

A Letter from IAU President, Dr. Carl Jubran, to IAU Faculty/Staff

Dear Colleagues, 

I wanted to write to all of you this evening and send you my most heartfelt wishes during this difficult time for our Institution and all across the world. We are experiencing an unprecedented and extraordinary set of circumstances that now challenge all of us in ways we didn’t think possible. 

I wanted to thank each and every one of you for all of your fine efforts in all that you have done and continue to do for our IAU and ACM students. Your strength and resolve has inspired a shared confidence in the students, their parents and our partner institutions. We will get through all of this together. 

Over the last sixty some years IAU has witnessed the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Student Riots of 1968, the Civil Rights Movement, Glasnost and Perestroika followed by the fall of the Soviet Union and consequently the Berlin Wall. It also witnessed the end of the Franco Regime in Spain and the restoration of the Bourbon Monarchy. We have survived the tragic events of September 11th and the many cowardly terrorist attacks that plagued the US and Europe over the years. There have been many riots, protests and organized civil disobedience throughout France and Spain and each one has provided our students with a window into a fascinating historical moment. We certainly cannot forget the wave of immigration coming from North Africa that continues to change the cultural, linguistic and religious landscape of Europe even today. COVID-19 will come and go and all of this will pass as well and join the list of the many adversities we have overcome. 

I also wanted you to know that I have shared the many protocols and reports written, distributed and posted by our leadership with our Board of Trustees. They could not be more pleased with how we are handling this difficult situation and they send their best to each and every one of you. 

Our Institution is strong and will sustain this hardship. I am meeting with members of the Finance Committee of the Board of Trustees soon in order to discuss our Contingency planning for the coming months. The US staff is also meeting this week to discuss strategies for summer and fall programming with some of the Deans. All of this to say that we are all working diligently to make sure we move forward with great intentionality to continue doing what we have done so well for so many years. The work we do is paramount to the future of our planet. We change the world one student at a time and make it a better place to live. Your work matters and I want you to know how much I appreciate all of you.  

I am proud to call you my colleagues and I will continue to work tirelessly each and every day to protect our institution from any and all hardships on the horizon. 

With much respect and admiration for the work you do, 
March 17, 2020

IAU's Response to COVID-19

IAU has continuously monitored the COVID-19 situation on its campuses in Aix-en-Provence and Barcelona. The health and safety of the IAU community remain our top priority amidst this unprecedented pandemic. With increased warnings, lockdowns, and travel advisories from U.S., French, and Spanish authorities, most of the Spring 2020 cohort of study abroad students has decided to return to their home country. A few IAU students, and most of our degree-seeking ACM students remain in Europe, currently under lockdown in Aix-en-Provence and Barcelona. Beginning March 30, IAU rolled out its new remote learning platform so that students, whether still in Europe or back in their home countries, may finish out the semester and earn the credits they had planned on.

Updates on the IAU's response to the COVID-19 pandemic may be found at and on IAU's Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages. 

In light of the recent events, IAU has begun a social media series called "The Quarantine Series," which will document photos and videos from students, staff, and faculty facing lockdown in Aix-en-Provence and Barcelona. Below is a sample from the series featuring photos from Art Professor and Coordinator of Student Life, Pauline Bétrancourt, of visitors to her balcony and a lovely view during a walk through Parc de la Torse in Aix. 

Photos by Pauline Bétrancourt

Contingency Plans for Summer and Fall Terms

IAU is heartbroken for our spring semester students who needed to leave their program prematurely due to the current COVID-19 crisis. We are pleased that everyone has transitioned safely to their respective homes and that, by all accounts, everyone is healthy. Our present focus is on the completion of the current semester through our remote learning platform and enabling the students to complete their coursework and receive the academic credits for which they signed up. In the spirit of supporting our spring semester students whose on-site programs were cut short, we will soon be announcing substantial tuition discounts for these students on future IAU programs.

Despite what appears to be a major challenge ahead for our nation and the world in containing the current COVID-19 pandemic, we are moving forward with contingency plans for the upcoming summer term and fall semester at our Aix-en-Provence, France and Barcelona, Spain locations. We realize many institutions have outright canceled summer program options for their students. And while we understand the need to make these decisions well in advance, our hope is that we may still be able to salvage a summer abroad opportunity for those students who seek one. That being said, we have moved both of our summer programs back by a month or more in the hopes that doing so will buy enough time to see border, shelter-in-place, travel, and on-the-ground restrictions lifted. At our Aix campus, the French Honors Program and the School of Art will still operate within the revised calendar. Updated calendars can be found at

IAU will continue monitoring the current COVID-19 situation and should restrictions be lifted will move forward with the normal academic calendar. However, if we feel that the already-challenging student visa process will be negatively affected by the current crisis, we may adjust the semester calendar to where the program is fewer than 90 days (with the possibility of some academic work prior to and after the on-the-ground programming), thereby mitigating any issues related to procuring a student visa. We will aim to make this decision no later than June 1st. 

As always, IAU welcomes and encourages alumni to return to IAU, either to enroll in programs that drew them to IAU in the first place or to experience IAU through one of the many new offerings. Alumni grants are offered (information here) to any alumni who return for another IAU program, and we would love to see you back in Europe this summer or sometime in the near future. 

Honoring the Memory of Allison Benson ('20)

IAU was struck by tragedy on February 7, 2020 when Allison Benson, a student from Kansas State University, died unexpectedly while studying in Aix-en-Provence, France.  Allison had been a member of the IAU community from a young age, as her aunt Kirsten Kircher was a student with IAU in the mid-1980’s.  Allison had long nourished the dream of studying with IAU, and had set a goal of becoming a French teacher.  Allison’s generosity of spirit, coupled with her delight in discovering France and its culture, won her many friends during her short time in Aix-en-Provence.  IAU extends its heartfelt condolences to the family of Allison Benson for their tragic loss. 

IAU is currently working with Kansas State University to develop a scholarship in Allison's name that will go toward deserving students who carry on the legacy of Allison's bright spirit and luminosity. If you would like to contribute to this scholarship, please visit and mark in the comments box that it is to go toward the Allison Benson Scholarship. We appreciate your generosity.

IAU Welcomes a New Member of the Family

During this difficult time, as we all struggle to find meaning and understanding in our ever-changing world, it is comforting to know that life continues and our IAU family is one more strong. Please join us in congratulating our very own Dr. Ignasi Perez (Site Director and Professor in Barcelona) and his wife Eleanor on their new baby girl, Carmela. Welcome to the world, Carmela (IAU Class of '40)!


Alumni Events

 Reception at the Résidence of the French Ambassador to the U.S.
Thursday, February 20, 2020
Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, February 20th, IAU alumni, board members, staff, university partners, and special guests gathered at the Residence of the French Ambassador to the United States for an evening dedicated to celebrating IAU and international education. Alumni spanning all of IAU's 63-year history were present and enjoyed lively conversations reminiscing about IAU and forging connections with fellow alumni from years past. It is always heartwarming to see the similarities that arise in the stories of our alumni from different years and decades when they talk about their life-changing experiences abroad. University partners and colleagues from every part of the country also joined the event and engaged in meaningful conversations surrounding topics of study abroad in today's political climate. We are grateful for all who attended this event. Our sincere thanks to Ambassador Philippe Étienne, Senior Counselor Benjamin Roehrig, the entire Embassy and Residence staff, the IAU Board of Trustees, and to all who were able to join us. An extra thanks to IAU and ACM board member, Ambassador Kurt Volker, for arranging the evening at the Ambassador’s residence and for his stimulating speech about the merits of studying abroad, especially in today’s world. Ambassador Volker’s speech--along with clips of those from Benjamin Roehrig, President Carl Jubran, and IAU Board Chair Marianne Keler--are available for viewing here. Photos from the event are available here.

Thanks to all who joined for this special evening!


Luncheon with for Alumni Celebrating 50+ Years Since Their Time at IAU

Prior to the event at the French Ambassador’s Residence, IAU alumna Leslie (McFarland) McNamara (’65-’66) and her husband Robert McNamara generously hosted a luncheon at the Army and Navy Club of Washington, D.C. for IAU alumni who were celebrating 50 or more years since their time at IAU in Aix-en-Provence.  It was a very special event and we were edified to hear the collective alumni stories, many showing their unique experiences in Aix but all underscoring the common thread of IAU and how their time abroad influenced the rest of their lives. Our deepest gratitude to Leslie and Robert McNamara for their generosity in hosting this lovely event – we are so appreciative!


Host an Event

IAU hosts alumni receptions each year in various cities around the U.S. These events rely on the generosity of our alumni and partners, and the city where these events are held usually depends on where we have someone willing to donate their time, energy, and space. 

Are you interested in hosting an IAU alumni reception in your city? Contact or call 1.800.221.2051 to discuss possibilities. 

Get Involved

ACM Degree Program Applications Open for the 2020-2021 Academic Year 

If you have been dreaming of returning to Aix, now is your chance!

If you are like many other IAU alumni looking for reasons to return to IAU and Aix-en-Provence, consider the Master’s degrees offered through IAU’s degree-granting entity, The American College of the Mediterranean (ACM). ACM offers a 2-year MFA degree in Painting and 1-year master's degrees in Art History, French Studies, International Relations, and Business Administration. ACM also offers a Bachelor's degree with over 15 majors and minors from which to choose. Please share this information with any high school, community college students, and soon-to-be or recent college graduates you know. Click below to learn more or begin an application.

Learn More

Giving Back to IAU

There are many ways to donate to IAU. Regardless of the amount or the form that a donation may take, IAU is deeply humbled by the action itself. Whether donors wish to honor or commemorate an individual, or contribute to buildings and classrooms through IAU's Naming and Legacy Opportunities, or help ensure the excellence of IAU programs for future generations of students, we invite potential donors to consider and select one or more of the donation opportunities listed below and on the IAU website. We sincerely thank you for your support.

Donate Now

Donate to Student Scholarships

During this unprecedented time of uncertainty in our world, IAU remains dedicated to providing students with top-notch international education opportunities and making them accessible to all students. In this light, IAU has decided to provide more scholarships than ever to students during the upcoming summer and fall 2020 terms. IAU receives much of its scholarship funding from donors, and we invite you all to make a donation to support a student in getting abroad during this tumultuous time in our history.

Donate Now

Support IAU on Amazon Smile
Consider supporting IAU on Amazon Smile. You shop how you normally would on, and a percentage of the proceeds goes directly to IAU. 

Support IAU on Amazon Smile

IAU Legacy Giving: The Mont Sainte-Victoire Society

IAU is extremely grateful to our alumni and other supporters who have remembered IAU in their estate planning. The Mont Saint-Victoire Legacy Society is an association for donors who have included IAU in their estate plans through a planned gift or other charitable donation.

If you have already included IAU in your estate plans, please let us know so we can honor and thank you and include you as a member of our Mont Sainte-Victoire Society.

For more information about remembering IAU in your estate plans, please contact 
Kurt Schick, Vice President of U.S. Operations.

News from Our Alumni

IAU Love Story: Chelsea Minella and Justin Hillman ('12)

IAU alumna Chelsea Minella ('12), recently shared the following story with IAU: 

"Fellow IAU student Justin Hillman and I recently got engaged this past October! We met the first week of classes during our Fall 2012 semester at IAU in Aix-en-Provence! If it weren’t for the IAU program we would have never crossed paths and fortuitously met! We can’t wait to visit Aix again during our honeymoon and relive the first few months of our relationship! This city has a very special place in both of our hearts. We hope all at IAU are staying safe and healthy during this time." 


Thank you for sharing your story, Chelsea and Justin! We wish you all the best in this new chapter!

"Then and Now"

Claudia McIntyre Bach ('63-'64)
Linda Wolf ('72-'73)

For our "Then and Now" features, we ask two open-ended questions of our alumni: 1. Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself; 2. How did your time abroad with IAU influence/inspire/change/or otherwise affect your life afterward? Here, Claudia McIntyre Bach and Linda Wolf tell us about how IAU influenced their lives after their time abroad.

 Claudia McIntyre Bach ('63-'64): "Then and Now"


Left: Claudia during her time at IAU; Right: Claudia with IAU President, Dr. Carl Jubran, in Aix-en-Provence in 2017 for the 60th Anniversary Celebration of IAU

Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?

I was a member of the IAU class of 1963-64 in Aix-en-Provence, the year President Kennedy was assassinated, an event mourned by the French as much as by Americans. I was a mid-western girl who applied to IAU from Ohio State because I so badly wanted to “see the world.” Yet, it really was crazy coming to IAU, where I knew no one and did not speak the language. But, amazingly, I came away speaking basic French, became familiar with several countries in Europe, and came to know many people from different experiences and backgrounds.  That year made me hungry for more such adventures and influenced me in ways I only came to understand later. 

How did your time abroad with IAU influence/inspire/change/or otherwise affect your life afterward? 

After college I met my future husband who has said many times that my year at IAU was the reason I married him after a very brief courtship, and then took off with him on his first post as a case officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  I am sure he is right.  Heading off to Latin America, where again I did not know the language (this time, Spanish), knew no one other than my husband, and surely had no idea what my life would be like as the wife of a spy, was not a frightening prospect. Truly, it was an exciting one, and as the years passed, it was often deeply rewarding.  While he was about his work, I taught in schools, first in Uruguay, then Bolivia, and finally in Mexico.  My two sons were born in Latin America, one in a Methodist missionary hospital. Life was not dull, and while sometimes dangerous, I believed I could deal with any challenge, big or small. (For example, in France I got used to a bath once a week, so doing the same in Bolivia was not surprising, though this time with two kids and a spouse in the tub too, was somewhat more difficult!) I do give IAU credit for providing me with the resilience and curiosity, not just to survive, but to embrace our life in these foreign lands.

When we moved back to the US, I continued to teach, and I thought I’d always be a teacher, but while getting my Masters at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, I was recruited into The Urban Superintendents Program. Once again, I am indebted to IAU (and my husband) for helping me believe I could take on and prevail over a demanding, exhausting doctoral program, and then head out to a totally new career, serving for the next 15 years as a superintendent of schools in districts in both Oregon and Massachusetts. The work was often not easy, and some decisions were heartbreaking, but overall it was a rich and rewarding career, and one I’d never dreamed possible before that IAU year.

Today, I spend most of my time coaching, mentoring and serving on boards of schools and organizations that have a clear commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. I know that my year at IAU prepared me for a life in which I have always been open to new ideas and experiences, and eager to support people from a myriad of backgrounds both in the US and from all over the world.  I am deeply grateful to IAU for putting me out on what I know now has been a marvelous path. 

Thank you for sharing your story, Claudia!

Linda Wolf ('72-'73): "Then and Now"


Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself? 

I’m 70 years old as of March 17th, and currently sheltering in place at home on Bainbridge Island with my husband, Eric, and my grown daughter Heather and her boyfriend, while her house is finishing being built. We live on a large piece of land in the forested part of the island, a quick walk to the beach – we are working on our veggie garden and playing music together, making meals, talking, reading, watching movies, taking care of the house and gardens, writing, doing our artwork, writing songs. We feel extremely fortunate but we worry about my 93-year-old mother, 10 minutes away in her own home who we can’t visit or help very much for fear of any possibility we could bring COVID-19 into her house, and we worry for my other daughter, who is a nurse in labor and delivery at a local hospital and who told us today that she has been exposed at work, is not sick or quarantined, but has been exposed and is watching herself for symptoms. My 3rd daughter has just taken over the Executive Directorship from me of the nonprofit I founded, Teen Talking Circles, and the daughter living with me now has become the program director. I started the organization 26 years ago for my 3 daughters to help them navigate the teen years – so now, we are running circles remotely for teens locked down throughout the US. Our circles give teens a safe place to tell the truth about their lives. If you are interested in our work, go to

I’m currently waiting for two pallets of my newest book to arrive. You can order the book on Amazon, as it is distributed by Simon & Schuster, which is a huge deal for me. This is my first coffee table photography book. It’s called Tribute: Cocker Power – about the music tour I was on when I was 20, the year I came to school at IAU. You can see this book at and my website is On it you will see the work I have done since I was 20, including many photos I took while I lived in Provence from 1970-1975. Some of the best work I ever did was while living in France.

So, this doesn’t tell you a lot about me, but it tells you a lot about what I’ve been up to. I was a photographer from the time I was about 17 professionally. And it has always been the way I’ve expressed myself best. Being a mother has been the greatest thing I’ve ever done or been. I was a hippie before I was an Earth Mother and I’m still both and of course, so much more. I’m a humanitarian, a feminist, an artist, a neighbor, a friend. The situation we’re all in now only proves what I have always felt – we are one world, one people, one planet and I wish our politicians would finally get it. We need not keep living lives of such imbalance. There are way too many hurting, lonely, hungry, living without homes to go to, sleeping on the streets in big cities and now people who have no idea if they will be able to make rent or mortgage or have enough to eat throughout the next months as this virus takes so many of the elders of our communities and makes so many sick. Never before have we been through something like this and so now it really calls upon us all to give whatever gifts we have to each other. On my island, people are sewing masks for our medical workers – we’re helping neighbors, bringing food to elders alone in their apartments or houses, making sure we check in on each other… and taking care of ourselves the best we can so that we can keep calm and bring peace or just hold someone while they cry or are afraid. So, of all I wanted to tell you about me, the most important is not my career or what I’ve accomplished but is how I can be for others in crisis. I can be kinder than I’ve ever been before and extend myself as a human being to human being (6 feet apart) and just let others know that I am with them.

How did your time abroad with IAU influence/inspire/change/or otherwise affect your life? 

My time abroad changed the course of my life. My memories of specific teachers and classes are strong, and of the students as well. I did feel a bit like a fish out of water. I’d just come off a national rock-and-roll tour for 2 months, which changed me radically, but from which I also was pretty unbalanced and unstable, which was why my parents wanted to get me out of LA fast. I remember listening to my friends on the radio in school one day and realizing how different my life course had gone. I should have been with them recording at Apple studios, photographing them on tour – but instead I was in school. We’d send postcards to each other. My memories of me were of going from pastry shop to pastry shop. I learned much from my teachers at IAU – It was a good education but what was happening around my education stands out more to me than the actual classes.

I had one of my first photo exhibitions while a student at the school. But the most important relationship I had from IAU was with Norma Benney, the registrar, who was a huge fan of my photography and invited me to spend a weekend at her country house in Goult. I took some of my most famous photos that have been purchased by museums over that weekend and until a few years ago, I would get long letters from Norma about how much she loved my artwork – it was something that also encouraged me as I put a lot of store in her opinion and in the knowledge she had of art. Through this relationship with Norma, and hanging out in Goult, I was introduced to the fille au pair for the antique dealer in Goult, who needed a new fille au pair at the end of my semester, so I applied for the job, which I got. I moved into her house at the end of summer, and ended up staying in the South of France for nearly 5 years – I met a boyfriend, another photographer, who introduced me to Jean Pierre and Claudine Sudre, who had a photographer “stage” in La Coste, which I talked my parents into paying for me to attend. I spent a year in La Coste in photo school, had another exhibit of my work. It happened that the director of photography at the Bibliotheque Nationale attended this exhibit and purchased photos from me for their permanent collection. So my career was founded out of this and the Musee Cantini which purchased its first photograph, one of mine from the exhibit. All these events came out of my attending IAU! And today I am still planning on doing some kind of project (a book, a video, a memoire) with the photos I made in the villages and in Aix, which are still my favorites of all the photography I have ever done. I will always cherish my semesters at IAU and my nearly 5 years in Provence – I loved them, they are some of the best years of my life.

Thank you for sharing your story, Linda!

Share Your Story!

Do you have any updates or information you would like to share in the next alumni newsletter? Contact or call 1.800.221.2051 to share your story. We'd love to hear from you!