CCIS History

In 2013, the Community Committee for International Students (CCIS) celebrated its 60th anniversary. Since its foundation in the 1950s, innovative and enthusiastic women and men shaped CCIS and enriched relations between Stanford internationals and the community to great mutual benefit.

Saskia Jogler conducted research for this project, investigating documents, oral interviews and photographs and composed the timeline stories). ;xNLx;Silvia M. Koch produced the implementation and graphical visualization of the timeline (

The foundation of CCIS

The early evolution of the Community Committee for International Students at Stanford University (CCIS) epitomizes a turning point in the importance of international communication and exchange in the United States.

Werner Warmbrunn

Werner Warmbrunn was always concerned and interested in students coming to the United States from abroad. During his tenure as Foreign Student Advisor at Stanford, he brought together local citizens with international students.

A Night in India

A Night in India was one of the first CCIS events dedicated to a foreign country, and the first CCIS fundraising event.

Emergency Loan Fund

One of the first actions of CCIS was to create an Emergency Loan Fund for international students.

CCIS becomes an official organization

One year after its inception, CCIS as a formal organization became a reality.

The first International Center on Lasuen Street

Soon after the inception of CCIS, it became evident a place for the newly established international activities was needed.


Henrietta Kershaw edited the first Communiqué newsletter, sent to all members at 4¢ each, the 1959 first class US postage rate. The early Communiqué was often a single-page black and white photocopy and was later available as an online version in 2003.

Friday Morning Coffee

What began as a monthly tea in the 1960s is now one of the best attended activities at the Bechtel Center.

Joan Lane

Joan Lane knew the local community residents very well. Thus, in the early period of CCIS, Werner Warmbrunn asked Joan to help make connections between community members and international students at Stanford.

Henrietta Kershaw

Henrietta Collbran Kershaw, a close friend of Virginia Page, joined CCIS in the organization´s first days.


Hospitality was a part of CCIS from its very beginning. However, in the early years Hospitality mainly meant that volunteers hosted international students for Christmas or Thanksgiving dinners. Over time, the program added other activities that continue through the academic year -- like nature outings or welcome lunches.

Wives´ Groups

CCIS arranged a variety of activities for the international spouses of Stanford student. Many of these spouses felt isolated while their husbands were studying.

Virginia Page

Virginia Page initiated discussions with the Stanford Foreign Student Advisor, Werner Warmbrunn, and discovered her common interests in international students with Joan Lane -- to initiate an organization for international students at Stanford.

Lorraine Barry

In 1953, Lorraine Barry was asked by her church to learn more about a new organization being formed by the Stanford Mothers’ Club, AAUW, and others who were offering temporary housing and acclimation to incoming international students.

Gertrude Williams

Gertrude Williams was CCIS Secretary, wrote several years for the Communiqué, and was involved in outreach and publicity for local newspapers. In addition, she was a founding member of the CCIS Associates in honor of past Board service.

Sheila Spaeth

Sheila Spaeth became a founding member of CCIS. She convinced people in the community to house students, organized fundraising events.

Patricia Chadwick

Patricia Chadwick was very sympathetic to dealing with international students in Stanford. She took on the third presidency of CCIS from 1956 to 1958.

Carolyn Baer

Carolyn Baer matched internationals and people of the community as part of the Homestay program and tried to mediate permanent housing.

Virginia Spears-Berger

The long-time support for CCIS provided by Virginia (Ginny) Spears is perhaps best told by her son, Bob Spears, who is a second-generation CCIS board member and chairman of the Loan Closet.


When CCIS began, there were pressing problems to solve. Just before the organization began, Stanford enrolled 166 foreign students who needed overnight "homes" before the opening of the fall University term.

Academic Luncheon

One of the highlights of fall orientation week was the Academic Luncheon.

Christmas Party/ Holiday Open House

For Christian Americans, Christmas is an especially important time to be with friends and family. Religious and cultural customs and traditions make holiday celebrations unique in each country. Thus, American Christmas celebrations are an opportunity to get to know a part of American culture.

Speakers Bureau

International speakers can play an important role for American adults and schoolchildren to learn about the way of life in other countries.

Guy Post

Guy Post was a Stanford graduate and a pioneer of the first fundraising effort to convert his former Zeta Psi fraternity residence for use as the new International Center.

Pat Keyes

Pat Keyes succeeded Ruth Norman as president of CCIS from 1962 to 1963.

Kenneth Cooper

When Werner Warmbrunn left Stanford University in 1964 to plan academic programs at Pitzer College at Claremont, Kenneth Cooper became the new Director of the I-Center.

Bernice Silber

Bernice Silber had a lifelong interest in international relations and social justice. She was also a longtime volunteer for CCIS and maintained warm friendships over the years with visiting scholars and international students.

Cooking Classes

In 1961, CCIS started a new program “Foreign Customs and Cookery.” Foreign spouses cooked a "typical meal" of their country and talked about everyday life in their homeland. Cooking classes remain very popular and are managed by Bechtel with international spouses and CCIS volunteers as instructors.

International Festival

It all began in 1954 with a small evening event dedicated to India to raise money for emergency loans, small scholarships, trip subsidies and other expenses of CCIS. With passing time, the small Night in India grew and became International Carnival, International Food Fair, Talent Show and finally the International Festival. International students participated. There were performances of dance and music -- and food from different countries. The last International Festival sponsored by CCIS was on May 15, 1964.

Play Groups

Children's Play Groups began as the idea of Karen Sortino and Betty Britton. Small groups of pre-school children provided an opportunity for foreign and local mothers to meet once or several times a week.


“English-In-Action” is a program of informal conversational talks between foreign students and local volunteers on a person-to-person basis.

20th Anniversary Fete

Champagne and dinner awaited CCIS members at the 20th Anniversary Fete at the I-Center.

Additions to the I-Center

A proposal was send out for a rear expansion to the I-Center to include an audience room for 132 persons, 2 classrooms and extra offices.

Silver Jubilee!

The 25th Anniversary of CCIS and the dedication of the new building addition to the I-Center were two very good reasons to celebrate.

Lee Zeigler

The door to Lee Zeigler´s office was always open during his sixteen years as Director of the Bechtel International Center. His special sensitivity to all cultures, and being able to see other points of view, made him truly predestined for this important leadership role at Stanford.

English Classes

After rather humble beginnings the 1970s, English Classes grew in popularity. By 1971, there were seven English Classes.

Bechtel´s and CCIS´s 50/60 Celebration

CCIS, its programs and its volunteers, are now looking back on 60 years of service, and there are no traces of being old-fashioned or out of date.

John Pearson receives Cuthbertson Award

Members of the Stanford faculty established an award in honor of an early architect of Stanford’s long-term financial planning and fundraising programs -- the Kenneth M. Cuthbertson Award for Exceptional Contributions to Stanford University in 1981.

A new look for the Bechtel I-Center

After nearly fifty years of service, the building housing the International Center was in need of a bit of freshening up.

Loan Closet

The Loan Closet is a program that lends items to over a hundred graduate students, scholars and spouses each year.

Spouse Education Fund

The Spouse Education Fund (SEF) began at the suggestion of Gwyn Dukes through her awareness that some international spouses put their homeland careers on hold, while his or her spouse attends Stanford.

Potluck Music Nights

At CCIS Potluck Music Nights you meet people from all over the world. It has been initiated by Dee Gustavson in 1998, who recalls that she got the idea from attending a NAFSA Conference, an International meeting of Foreign Student Advisors and Community Volunteers.

Arts Tea

The first International Arts Tea, held at the Bowman Alumni House, presented Spanish Flamenco dance, a Nigerian drum demonstration, an Indian guitar performance and a Japanese tea ceremony.


In 1954, the new CCIS Transportation Committee coordinated volunteer drivers who provided new arriving internationals with transportation to and from the airport and sight seeing excursions.

Orientation Barbeque

A way to get together and learn about American traditions in a social setting - - is a barbeque!

CCIS´s new home: The Bechtel International Center

A nighttime fire in November 1961 destroyed the I-Center building on Lasuen Street. As a result, for the next two years, CCIS had to move its office to the basement of the Stanford Women’s Clubhouse and many international activities and programs were on hold.

10th Anniversary celebrations

CCIS had many reasons to celebrate in 1963, after one decade of volunteer work at the University.

Art Exhibitions

Kay Millar began monthly Art Exhibits at the I-Center with help of Priscilla Hexter.

Sunday Night Suppers

When Sunday Night Suppers began in 1962, they were held in private homes and each Board member was asked to sign up for one evening. In 1964, a supper party for the winter quarter new students was on January 17 at Ginny Spear´s home. These events facilitated connections between the local community and internationals.


Starting in 1963, CCIS helped staff the first floor reception desk of the I-Center so that when you enter the lobby of the I-Center, you would find a welcoming CCIS volunteer receptionist there.

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