I-House was originally conceived by Harry Edmonds, an official with the YMCA, who in 1909 had a chance encounter with a lonely graduate student from China. This encounter inspired Edmonds to create a place for international students to feel at home and create camaraderie with others. Edmonds’ dream was brought to life by the philanthropy of John D. Rockefeller Jr. and the Cleveland H. Dodge family who funded the construction of the International House.
International House was the first of its kind and for over 90 years has transformed the lives of more than 65,000 alumni, including not only Nobel Prize winners, heads of state, award-winning authors, singers, actors, and CEOs, but teachers, doctors, small business owners, community leaders and volunteers throughout the world. We achieve our mission of building respect, empathy, and moral courage through chance encounters and our one-of-a-kind programs and partnerships, all in our landmark Morningside Heights facilities, which are designed to encourage diversity of thought and experience.
An independent non-profit organization, International House has enjoyed distinguished leadership since its inception. Past Chairs of the Board have included two former U.S. Presidents (Eisenhower and Ford), three former Secretaries of State (Stimson, Marshall, and Kissinger), and a former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve (Volcker).
Watch this 1949 promotional film about International House. Narrated by actor Roscoe Lee Browne ’49, the film also features Burl Ives ’39, former Trustee Dr. Ralph Bunche, active supporter Eleanor Roosevelt, and former I-House Chairman George Marshall.