History of IUHPFL

History of IUHPFL

The IU Honors Program in Foreign Language was founded in 1961 with IU's receipt of a $200,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. David Munford, a former employee of the Ford Foundation in their International Training and Research branch, worked with IU Spanish Professor Merle Simmons to set up the program for its first summer trips in 1962. Munford and Simmons wanted to improve foreign language education at the high school level in Indiana with the hope of creating a generation of more globally-minded students. Munford would go on to run the program from 1961 to 1964. 

In the first summer IUHPFL ran, ninety students were sent to three program sites: Oaxaca, Mexico; Trier, Germany; and Saint-Brieuc, France. Those first ninety students came from just twenty-six high schools around the state. The prices of the trips were $650 for Mexico and $950 for France and Germany. Since 1962, IUHPFL has been able to send students to eighteen sites in eight different countries. Today, the program has six active sites. 

The original structure of the program had many similarities to today's program: students had to be in their third year of study of the target language, they  committed to expectations similar to the current Honor Code, they could not speak English during the trip, and they stayed with host families while abroad. Additionally, each site had an Onsite Coordinator who managed the program from the site and instructors who travelled with the groups from Indiana.

Over the years, the program has added sites in various countries and changed how different aspects are run, but the core principals have remained. Every year, students from around Indiana get the opportunity to improve their language skills and learn about the world through an immersive experience abroad.

IUHPFL Through the Years

Krefeld, Germany, 1967
Saint-Brieuc, France, 1969
Saint-Brieuc, France, 1976
San Luis Potosí, Mexico, 1986
San Luis Potosí, Mexico, 1992
Valencia, Spain, 2002
Brest, France, 2005
León, Spain, 2006
Ciudad Real, Spain, 2010
Ciudad Real, Spain, 2011
Hangzhou, China, 2016
Osaka, Japan, 2017
Viña del Mar, Chile, 2018
Graz, Austria, 2023

IUHPFL Timeline

June 1961

The Carnegie Corporation of New York grants IU $200,000 for the purpose of establishing a language program for Indiana high school students.

1961 - 1964

David Munford, a former Ford Foundation employee, works with Professor Merle Simmons to start the program. Munford would act as the program's first director.

June 1962

The first ninety Indiana high school students participate in IUHFPL and travel to Saint-Brieuc, France; Trier, Germany; and Oaxaca, Mexico.

1964 - 1970

Phillip Leamon becomes Director and helps the program continue after the initial trial period of three years. 

1970 - 1977

Lois Meesen, the former Assistant Director of IUHPFL under Phillip Leamon, takes over as director. Meesen passed away in 2018. 

Spring 1977

When Lois Meesen leaves the program, IU administrators propose to discontinue IUHPFL. There is such an uproar from high school teachers, IU language faculty members, and those working with the program abroad, that IU reconsiders its original decision and decides to allow IUHPFL to run for at least two more years. 

1977 - 1994

Grafton Trout serves as the IUHPFL Director, helping to keep IU administrators from shutting down the program in 1977. Trout passed away in 2016, and his wife, Laura Trout, set up a generous scholarship for IUHPFL students in his name. 


IUHPFL is mentioned in Illinois Congressman Paul Simon's book The Tongue-Tied American: Confronting the Foreign Language Crisis. Simon uses the program as an example of Indiana's above-average leadership in foreign language training.


IUHPFL moves its office from Franklin Hall to the Leo R. Dowling International Center where it would remain until 2023. The program also becomes more closely associated with other international programming at IU. 

The Leo R. Dowling International Center where the IUHPFL offices were housed from 1989 until 2023

1994 - 2008

Jaqueline Danner serves as Director of IUHPFL. Sites are added in Spain under her leadership. 

2009 - 2014

Stephanie Goetz serves as Managing Director of IUHPFL. 


The first issue of the IUHPFL Newsletter, the Polyglot Press comes out. This newsletter continues to be issued by the IUHPFL office team once a year and includes updates from the director, site experiences from the previous summer, and student data.

IUHPFL alumni pose at the 50th anniversary celebration

May 2012

The program celebrates its 50th anniversary. A weekend celebration for alumni is held at the IUPUI Campus Center in Indianapolis.


2014 - 2023

Loni Dishong serves as Managing Director of the program. During Dishong's leadership, the program adds sites in China and Japan. The IUHPFL summer trips are cancelled for the first time in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

2023 - present

Megan Solon serves as the Director of IUHPFL.