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Students going abroad with Dr. Robert B. Bailey III in 1980 at an airport. UWRF photo.

Days Gone By: Dr. Bailey and the Quarter Abroad program

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Days Gone By: Dr. Bailey and the Quarter Abroad program
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

On Aug. 15, 1963, the River Falls Journal published an article, “River Falls State College Schedules Quarter Abroad.”

“Thirty-one students at Wisconsin State College at River Falls will start the next school year in Europe.


“They will be pioneers in a ‘Quarter Abroad’ program which may become a regular part of the River Falls curriculum.

“After registration at the college, the students will fly to New York and board the ship ‘Groote Beer’ on Sept. 13 to go to several countries to work on their research projects. They will meet again when they leave Europe Nov. 26 aboard the ‘S.S. New Amsterdam’ to return to the River Falls campus.

“Cost to the students will range from $750 to $1,000.

“The project began when half a dozen students talked with Dr. Robert B. Bailey III, associate professor of sociology, about the possibility to studying abroad. Dr. Bailey has had considerable experience in European study and in the summer of 1961 led a group of 10 students from various colleges to Germany. He has studied at universities in Holland, England, and Germany.

“He announced a meeting for anyone interested in studying abroad and was surprised when more than 40 students attended.

“Dr. Bailey, who will direct the program and accompany the group, said, ‘The program is organized in the belief that contact with another culture or society is an important part of a liberal education. This type of contact gives the student an opportunity to observe, analyze and participate in customs, behavior patterns and social institutions different from his own.

It gives him an opportunity to become aware of his own attitudes, beliefs and prejudices and aids him in understanding the effects of culture on behavior and personality.’”

So it was that Dr. Bailey, the first African American faculty member on the River Falls staff, along with much help in the early years from his secretary Donna Arne, introduced the program that is now called “Semester Abroad: Europe,” and will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Oct. 12, 2013.

He led groups of students almost every year until 1975. Since then faculty and academic staff serve as group leaders and program directors for the program.

More information on the Semester Abroad program can be found at

Editor's Note: If anyone can identify any of the students in these photos please email Pat Hunter at or call 715-425-1561.

Pat Hunter
(715) 425-1561