College Mourns Passing of Dr. Laurent Gousie ’60, Study Abroad Advocate
Dr. Laurent Gousie ’60, who as a professor at Providence College for nearly 50 years encouraged hundreds of students to study abroad, directed the College’s study abroad program in Fribourg, Switzerland, and coordinated its earliest study abroad office on campus, died Thursday, May 9, at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket, R.I. He was 79.
A resident of Bristol, he was the husband of the late Marie A. (Rauh) Gousie and the father of Michael B. Gousie ’85, a professor at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass.
Dr. Gousie, a professor of German and a special lecturer in French, was granted the title professor emeritus when he retired at the end of the 2008-2009 academic year. His teaching career began when he was hired to teach French in September 1960, months after his PC graduation.
During his decades with the College, Dr. Gousie worked with seven PC presidents. He was director of the Junior Year Abroad Program from 1963-1985; resident director and chairman of the “PC in Fribourg” program at the University of Fribourg from 1967-1970, and became assistant dean for academic scheduling and foreign study in 1971.
In 1974, he was named registrar of the College and in 1992 was appointed associate vice president for planning.
“Professor Gousie was perhaps the first true international educator at Providence College,” said Adrian G. Beaulieu, dean of the Center for International Studies. “Laurent was truly a global citizen. His contributions to the College were many. But he will likely be best remembered for helping so many PC students understand the value of studying abroad and how, in many instances, it completely changed their lives.”
Dr. Gousie’s commitment to international education continued in his retirement. In February, he attended a reception in Phillips Memorial Library marking the 50th anniversary of PC’s Study Abroad Program. Earlier in the day, he took part in an information session for parents, describing how fortunate students are today to have so many varied opportunities for international study, Beaulieu said.
“An act of kindness” launches study abroad
A longtime resident of Pawtucket, Dr. Gousie attended PC on the GI Bill. He credited PC with “giving me an opportunity way back … I was a Catholic youngster from a working family. (The College) was created to help students like me, and it did.”
He enlisted in the Army in 1953, during the Korean War, and after three years on active duty in Germany continued in the Army Reserves. He attained the rank of colonel in a military career that spanned 35 years. Upon retirement, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, the second-highest peacetime medal authorized by Congress.
Dr. Gousie earned a bachelor’s degree in German and French from PC, a master’s degree in Germanic languages and literature from Harvard University in 1965, and a Ph.D. in modern German literature, German philology, and French literature from the University of Fribourg in 1969.
Dr. Gousie’s involvement with international education began in 1962, when Raymond G. LePage ’64, a student in one of his German classes, asked Dr. Gousie for help in going overseas to study — a first for PC.
Dr. Gousie’s participation in arranging for LePage to attend the University of Louvain in Belgium for a year was an act of kindness, said Beaulieu, and led to Dr. Gousie’s appointment as the College’s first study abroad director and his involvement with the Fribourg program. Since then, an estimated 4,000 PC students have studied abroad in 30 countries.
“The successful international studies program at PC owes Dr. Gousie a great deal,” said LePage, a retired professor at George Mason University. “This was his academic ‘child’ which he fathered, nurtured, encouraged, and maintained over so many years. He was a true mentor to many of us. Without his unwavering support, it would have been difficult for me to make the decision to study abroad. He was the catalyst behind this pioneering venture.”
Academic scholar, devoted teacher
Among his academic accomplishments, Dr. Gousie was named an Outstanding Educator in America in 1974. In 1988, he was one of 25 scholars selected to participate in the Fulbright Summer Seminar in German Civilization, held in Bonn and Berlin.
At the time of his retirement, in an interview with the student newspaper, The Cowl, Dr. Gousie encouraged the study of foreign languages, which he said broadens horizons, making one “a citizen of the world instead of being a ‘land-locked American.’”
“My best memories are to be found in teaching and advising students and seeing them progress during their four years at PC and thereafter,” he said. “Nothing trumps my love of teaching and my association with students. It has been a great career and a wonderful relationship with Providence College.”
The funeral will be on Tuesday, May 14, at 9 a.m. from Smith Funeral & Memorial Services, 8 Schoolhouse Road, Warren, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Mary of the Bay Church, Main Street, Warren, at 10 a.m. Calling hours are Monday, May 13, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the funeral home. Interment will be in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, East Providence.
— Vicki-Ann Downing
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