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Betty M. Flinchum International Study Endowed Fund

The following biography was written at the time of this scholarship establishment; some information may not be up to date:

Dr. Betty M. Flinchum has had a distinguished career in education as a teacher, professor, director, and administrator in several universities in the United States and abroad. In preparation for academic work, she received a bachelor’s degree at Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (now UNCG) in 1957, a master’s of degree in education from University of North Carolina in 1962, and a PhD from Louisiana State University in 1972.

In the early part of her career, she taught in university positions related to the areas of movement education, motor development of young children, and teacher education. Following her master’s degree, she was selected by Woman’s College for an exchange position in England where she served as organizer of schools in Somerset County. In following years, she spent a sabbatical year and several summers in England researching movement education theory. During those early teaching years, her research in early childhood was widely published; her textbook was entitled “Motor Development in Early Childhood.” As her academic career progressed, she served in university administrative positions for the main part of her career and focused on international education and international development.

Flinchum began academic work as department chairperson and faculty at Newcomb College, Tulane University. After five years with AAHPERD/NEA in Washington, D.C., Flinchum served for 32 years as a professor of education and director of international programs at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville (UNF). She continues to serve UNF as an emerita professor and consultant for international initiatives. As a founding faculty member at UNF, she initiated and developed the university’s international programs, which included the establishment of study abroad programs; international student programs; and faculty linkages and exchanges with countries in Belize, Costa Rica, Czech and Slovak Republics, France, England, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, Guatemala, several countries in the Caribbean, and Central and South America. During her tenure as director, UNF’s international student body grew to include young scholars from more than 100 countries.

In the first 10 years of international program development, Dr. Flinchum wrote, developed, and administered more than one million dollars in local, state, and federal grants. Those grant monies funded all UNF’s international programs and helped to internationalize the curriculum of several colleges. She was successful in receiving federal grants from United States Information Agency (USIA), United States Department of Education (USDOE), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Higher Education Development (HED). The USIA grants resulted in UNF’s highly successful Belize Partnership; and the USAID and Florida/West Africa grants resulted in establishing the first community college center in Senegal, West Africa. At retirement in 2004, she started her own company called Cultural Connections, LLC. This company provides group and individual grant development seminars and custom designed international travel and cultural training services for individuals, companies, and universities.

Dr. Flinchum served on the Florida’s International Council that developed the 11 Florida Linkage Institutes: One of those institutes is the Florida/West Africa Linkage Institute (FLAWI), where UNF was the lead institution. She served as co-director of FLAWI on two occasions and as a board member and co-editor of the FLAWI Newsletter for more than a decade. During her tenure on the FLAWI Board of Directors, she wrote many successful grants that provided tuition funds for hundreds of students from West Africa to pursue studies in Florida universities and monies for faculty exchanges between FLAWI universities and West Africa. One such grant provided funds for a highly successful UNF conference on “Doing Business in West Africa,” which brought West African businessmen and women together with Florida businessmen and women. That initiative continues to be successful.

In addition to her academic duties, she also served as UNF’s protocol officer and as president of the Jacksonville Sister Cities Association that fostered linkages with cities in France, China, Russia, Korea, South Africa, and Argentina. In her role as educator and diplomatic leader, she became friends with many international personages, US and foreign Ambassadors, ministers, and members of Parliament. Many of these international leaders provided exchange opportunities for UNF faculty and eminent lecturers for UNF students such as Nobel Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. An ardent videographer, she produced a video for Belize schools of Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to Belize in 1994 which was cited by a letter from Her Majesty.

Currently, in the status of emerita professor, she continues to consult with the university in areas of international outreach. In 2006, she was in charge of the organization and administration of the Master of Education Program in Belize, Central America—an outgrowth of the US government-funded international program that she initiated for the university in 1984, following the establishment of Independence for that new nation. That program has produced more than 550 UNF graduates living and working in Belize for the betterment of that developing country.

In addition to development work in Belize, she has also served as consultant for UNF in exchanges with West Africa, France, Mexico, Costa Rica, Eastern Europe, England, and the Caribbean. One of her most notable contributions is the establishment of the Centre Universitaire de Bambey, the first community college-based institution in West Africa. This college was an outgrowth of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) grant projects and FLAWI relationships in Senegal, West Africa. In their 10th-year review of funded projects conducted in 2009, USAID and Higher Education for Development selected Flinchum’s Bambey project as their success story, one of only a few so honored.

Some of her most notable awards are the Lifetime Achievement Award in International Development given by agencies in Jacksonville for her significant work toward making Jacksonville an international city, the International Development Award from UNF for distinguished service to the University, and the Honorary Alumna Award for her “devotion to UNF students” and “initiating and developing” the university’s international program. On her retirement, she was elected as an emerita professor of education, an honor and high distinction for retired faculty at UNF. Most recently, in October 2013, she was honored as a Woman of Distinction by her alma mater, the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

In addition to her professional career, Flinchum has been involved in several philanthropic endeavors. During her tenure at UNF, she gave the initial monies to establish two scholarships at the University of North Florida: one for Belizeans who wish to study education at UNF (named for her friend Sir Colville Young, Governor-General of Belize) and the first College of Education and Human Services faculty scholarship for needy students (named for her friend Ellis White, the first dean of education at UNF and founding faculty). Her donations to the College of Education and Human Services established an office for international initiatives named for her leadership. In addition to those scholarships, she established the Betty M. Flinchum Endowment for International Travel at the University of North Carolina Greensboro which provides a scholarship to assist students who desire to study abroad.

Her most recent writing project was an authorized biography of a prominent Belizean colleague and friend, entitled, “A Cultural Legacy: Sir Colville Norbert Young, GCMG, MBE, and D.Phil. Governor-General of Belize.” It was published in 2008 by Print Belize, Ltd.

In her retirement, Dr. Flinchum volunteers as an international programing consultant for educational institutions in the United States and abroad and continues to provide custom-designed international tours for individual and group travel.

In addition to international administration, Dr. Finchum has continued to contribute to the university faculty by serving on committees as chair or member and as participant in Faculty Association Division and College Affairs.