New semester brings new home for Schweitzer

By on February 2, 2005

The new year brings in a new semester at Quinnipiac and a new home for the Albert Schweitzer Institute (ASI). Since October, the ASI has been in a new building on New Road that David Ives, the executive director of the ASI and an adjunct professor, hopes Quinnipiac will use as a tool to bring the campus community together. Ives hopes to have students come and see what kind of man Schweitzer was and hopes it can inspire them to help others.

Ives began his career in the Peace Corps. A turning point in his life was when a little girl died in his arms. “The girl died of bad water. No little girl should have to die,” Ives said.

David Ives also had the opportunity to go to Rome to the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. There, he got to discuss important global issues such as the Middle East with world leaders such as former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Lech Walesa, former president of Poland.

David Ives has an extensive past. He has his BA in social work and his Masters in student personnel and counseling. He was in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica where he met Oscar Arias, a 1987 Nobel Peace Prize winner. He is currently working with Arias on an arms-trade treaty to control the transfer of small arms.

Ives also admires Betty Williams, a Nobel Peace Prize co-winner in 1976, because of her passion for helping children. She also saw a young girl die in her arms and decided to dedicate her life to helping children.

The new building hosts a mini-museum on Schweitzer with many pictures of him, his wife and the many people he met throughout his career, including his friend Albert Einstein. Born in 1875, Albert Schweitzer was an accomplished writer, professor, pianist and organist. When Schweitzer turned 30 he saw a pamphlet describing the need of a French missionary society in Africa. He decided that he would spend the rest of his life helping people and entered medical school. He went to Africa in 1913 with his wife Helene and built hospitals in Africa. “He gave up everything to go to Africa. He became as famous as Bono is today,” Ives said. Schweitzer adopted the idea of “Reverence for Life,” which meant he valued all living creatures and the independence of life. He was an environmentalist. In 1952, Schweitzer was a Nobel Peace prize laureate for his lifelong humanitarian work. He died at the age of ninety in Africa.

The museum has a drawing of Schweitzer by Norman Rockwell, a cloth birthday card to his wife and the organ Schweitzer used to play while in Africa. The museum also has African masks, and the many magazine covers Schweitzer was on including Life, Paris Match and American Weekly. There is a patio outside of the building which Ives hopes can be used to stage plays and functions. Along with the hope of having a sculpture garden put in, there is also a conference room in which Ives hopes to have small concerts and theater productions for thirty to forty people. Ives said that President Lahey wants the ASI to be utilized to bring the campus community together for a good cause.

The ASI hosts spring break trips to Nicaragua and Barbados every year. There are about twenty-five students who travel to these countries to do good for those less fortunate. This coming spring break there are two projects for the trip to Nicaragua. Students are going to build a community garden next to the school. Nurses are going down to train the people so they might be able to care for themselves. Physical therapy students will be doing training and home visits in Barbados, while forensic nurses from the graduate school will be going to a shelter for battered women training others to be staff and security for the shelter.

Students have had nothing but positive things to say about their experience. “I don’t even know where to begin. Nicaragua was a living changing experience. You are in a different environment and you become so close to the other people that you’re with. We got to see a different culture and how they live. Now I question how I do things. It really affected me a lot,” Michelle Thrasher, junior media studies, said. “Nicaragua was absolutely amazing. It was nothing like I’ve ever seen before. We got to climb a volcano. It was sad, fun, and wonderful all at the same time,” Kristin Bettin, senior nursing major, said.

The Albert Schweitzer Institute hopes to have students come to the building and see what Schweitzer was all about. They hope to have guest lecturers come and talk to students. Betty Williams will be coming to Quinnipiac to speak on April 8.

For information on the ASI contact David Ives at


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