Skip to Main Content
Global Connections

A study abroad champion gives back to Miami

Alumna Elizabeth 'Betsy' Salt (Western College Class of 1974) makes education abroad a reality for Miami students

Betsy Salt in Otterbein library
Betsy Salt in the Otterbein University library (photo credit: Department of Anthropology, Ohio State University)
Global Connections

A study abroad champion gives back to Miami

Betsy Salt in the Otterbein University library (photo credit: Department of Anthropology, Ohio State University)

There is no doubt that a liberal education can take you places. To date, Western College alumna Elizabeth "Betsy" Salt (Class of 1974) has visited 84 countries and all seven continents. Her next trip is a cruise on the National Geographic Endurance to Iceland and Greenland. But her thoughts are never far from Ohio.

Salt grew up in Bexley, Ohio, the daughter of high school sweethearts Alice and Charles Salt. Charles served in the Air Force during World War II and then studied at Denison University. Alice earned a degree from Oxford's historic Western College in 1947. They got married in 1948.

During Betsy's childhood, her mother was active in the Western College Alumnae Association (WCAA), which included regular visits to Oxford. While Alice attended WCAA meetings, the rest of the family explored the campus.

At the same time, Betsy's interests turned to exploring the world outside of Ohio. In high school, she studied abroad in England, and spent a few days in Brussels and Paris as well.

When it came time for college, Salt followed in her mother's footsteps. "I was in the last graduating class while Western was still an independent liberal arts college, and I will have my 50th reunion next summer," she said.

In 1972, Western implemented an interdisciplinary approach to education called "Freedom with Responsibility." This initiative meant that Salt was free to choose any courses she wanted to construct her liberal arts "major," so she chose a path that combined anthropology, sociology, botany, French literature and archaeology.

standing in the doorway at the Pacha Camac archaeological site in PeruAnd of course, that path included studying abroad. Salt joined a six-week South American travel seminar led by Philosophy professor Fred G. Sturm that took Western College students to Peru, Chile, Brazil, and Colombia. Because of Western's large international student population, Salt made friends with people from all over the world. She even had the opportunity to tour Japan with a Japanese classmate. They are still good friends today.

"Study abroad was the most broadening thing I did in college," Salt said. "You learn so much about other cultures and other people. You get to respect and appreciate them more."

After graduating from Western, she became a member of the WCAA and served two terms on its Board of Trustees. During the summer of 1974, the WCAA became an independent incorporated alumnae association partially supported by Miami University. Miami then housed its own Western College Program on the Western campus. The Western College Program was not officially affiliated with the WCAA, but rather was a part of Miami University.

Salt attended graduate school at the Ohio State University, earning a master's in anthropology. She then took a year off to travel in New Zealand and Australia before continuing at OSU for her PhD. She spent a year studying the Hopewell and Adena cultures in Ohio, but soon decided to change course.

"The job outlook for PhDs wasn't looking good, so I went to Indiana University and did a second master's in library science," she said.

Salt's first library job was a two-year temporary position at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. "It was broadening just to live in another part of the United States," she said. When the position ended, she moved back to Ohio to accept a position at Otterbein University in Westerville as a cataloguing/metadata librarian. She retired in 2014 after 31 years in that role.

Giving Back

The Salt family has always been interested in both travel and philanthropy. After Western merged with Miami, Salt's mother established the Alice Schacht Salt International Study Scholarship to cover costs associated with study abroad programs. Betsy's own enthusiasm for study abroad led her to sponsor multiple scholarships at the different Ohio universities that have been part of her life, including an anthropology scholarship at OSU for graduate level field work overseas, plus study abroad scholarships at Otterbein and Miami. "I'm happy to be in a position to support students who want to study abroad, because I had such a good experience," she said.

Recipients of these scholarships have told Salt that study abroad changed their lives, so she is determined to make sure everyone gets the opportunity. The endowed Elizabeth A. Salt Travel Scholarship for Miami students through the Columbus Foundation is based on financial need and GPA. Karla Guinigundo, director of global partnerships at Miami, works with the Columbus Foundation to award two scholarships each year.

As for that National Geographic cruise, Salt is looking forward to seeing Viking ruins and learning from naturalist experts who give lectures during the cruise. "Travel is my expensive hobby," she said. "None of my friends like the nature and culture-oriented trips that I like. I'll always be interested in travel, and I'm glad to share the experience with students."

For more information about study abroad scholarships at Miami, please contact Karla Guinigundo, Director, Global Partnerships.