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McRobbie to visit Africa for 2 weeks


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By Kourtney Liepelt





President Michael McRobbie plans to visit South Africa, Ghana and Kenya for a trip lasting more than two weeks, beginning Aug. 25. On his agenda are expeditions to the Gordon Institute of Business Sciences in Johannesburg, several other institutions in South Africa and Ghana and the IU-led Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare program in Eldoret, Kenya, said Associate Vice President of IU Communications Mark Land.  

Alumni meet-and-greets will also take place along the way.

“A lot of this is more at the ground level,” Land said. “We’ve been to Africa before, but we’ve not done as much work in Africa as we have done elsewhere.”

The visit to AMPATH will be the centerpiece of the president’s trip, he said.

Led by the IU School of Medicine, AMPATH is a partnership between Moi University, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, and several U.S. universities. The IU School of Medicine initiated the program in 1989 and began a focus on reducing and preventing cases of HIV/AIDS as well as its transmission when AMPATH forged a partnership with USAID in 2001. The program has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on two occasions.    

McRobbie will be the first IU president to survey AMPATH firsthand.

“That program has been around for two decades, so I think we’re long overdue in having a president visit there,” said Shawn Reynolds, associate vice president for international partnerships.

Kelley School of Business Dean Idalene Kesner said she will be participating in the trip to sign an agreement with GIBS in South Africa. Though the details of this partnership have yet to be outlined, she said it can potentially include student exchanges and faculty research.

“Naturally, if we have programs or projects that Kelley students have to work on in South Africa in conjunction with students from GIBS or faculty from GIBS, then our students get the benefit of this broader, international experience,” Kesner said. “It’s a global perspective, having worked on research and projects in South Africa.”

Part of the purpose of the trip is to seek further research opportunities and increase international experiences for IU students, Reynolds said. Through this networking, McRobbie and other IU officials aim to diversify student recruitment, particularly at the graduate level. African students represented 1.1 percent of all international students on campus during the 2012-13 school year, according to the Office of International Services statistical reports.

“All the universities that we’re visiting are potentially and are currently sources of graduate student recruitment for us,” he said.  

McRobbie’s trip to Africa is simply one component to his strategic plan to increase IU’s international engagement. The plan identifies about 30 countries believed to be significant connections for the University.   

“I do think exposing our students to what’s happening in all regions of the world is important,” Kesner said. “It’s not simply about Africa.”

Most recently, McRobbie has made trips to East Asia in May and Latin America in November 2012.

At this point in time, Africa’s prominence to the University stems from its position in the world as a developing region.

“Africa is important because it is one of the last great regions of the world that has to develop pretty quickly,” Land said. “It’s really one of the last emerging regions of the world.”

Follow reporter Kourtney Liepelt on Twitter at @KourtneyLiepelt.

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