The University Record, March 4, 2002

U-M ranks second in Peace Corps volunteer numbers

By Joel Seguine
News and Information Services

The U- M currently has 76 graduates serving as Peace Corps volunteers or trainees, ranking second in the nation, according to figures released today (Mar. 4) by Peace Corps headquarters. The University of Wisconsin-Madison tops the list with 96 volunteers and trainees.

U-M played an historic role in the inception of the Peace Corps. At 2 a.m. Oct. 14, 1960, then-Senator John F. Kennedy made an unprepared campaign speech to a group of U-M students on the steps of the Michigan Union. He asked if they would be willing to devote a few years of their life working in underdeveloped countries around the world to promote better understanding between the United States, developing nations and their peoples. Within weeks, 1,000 Michigan students had signed a petition calling for the establishment of the Peace Corps program. Less than one year later—on Mar. 1, 1961—the Peace Corps officially was launched.

According to Rudie Altamirano, director of the U-M International Center, which maintains a campus Peace Corps office, a total of nearly 1,900 former U-M students have served as Peace Corps volunteers among a total 165,000 who have served in 135 countries since the agency’s founding in 1961.

“There are several reasons for U-M’s leadership in this area besides capitalizing on the idea that the Peace Corps was born here,” Altamirano explains. “We hire former Peace Corps volunteers in our office, who have networks established with former Peace Corps volunteers. Our associate director Kay Clifford and administrative assistant Jill Scott were both in the Peace Corps. We integrate the idea of serving in all of our programs. And, of course, the 40th Peace Corps anniversary last year raised awareness.”

Enthusiasm for international service among U-M students carries over to the University’s leading community service programs, such as AmeriCorps, America Reads and Project SERVE, coordinated through the Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning. The University’s Peace Corps Office is located at 603 E. Madison St. in the International Center, between the Michigan Union and West Quad on Central Campus, as part of the Overseas Opportunities Office (Room 10). The office can be contacted at (734) 647-2182, by e-mail to Information also can be found online at

The Ginsberg Center is located at 1024 Hill Street. For information, call (734) 647-7402 or visit the center Web site at