Forum discusses delegation trips abroad



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David Zaret, IU Vice President for International Affairs, speaks at a forum in the Presidents Hall on Tuesday about the IU presidental delegation's trips to Turkey and Saudia Arabia. Lionel Lim Buy Photos

IU has been working toward strengthening its relationships and programs abroad.

As part of this effort, presidential delegations have traveled to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and India this fall.

A forum at 4 p.m. Monday in President’s Hall in Franklin Hall discussed these trips and provided details about some of the relationships developed during the trips.

David Zaret, vice president for international affairs, directed the program.

“Partnerships with these institutions enhance the IU brand worldwide,” he said. “They enhance our ?reputation.”

Zaret spoke first about the delegation’s visit to Turkey, which was the first visit to the country since 1955, according to a University release.

While in Turkey, the delegation visited a number of universities and met with the elected president of Turkey and his two daughters.

Both of the president’s daughters attended IU, ?Zaret said.

Zaret said IU’s programs in Turkish language and culture, particularly the Turkish Flagship Program, are at the forefront of the field and that there have been both large numbers of IU students in Turkey and large numbers of Turkish students at IU for years.

“IU-Bloomington has been a welcoming place for decades for Turkish ?students,” he said.

While in Turkey, IU President Michael McRobbie also signed a government agreement that will provide funding for both Turkish students to come to IU and for IU students to study abroad ?in Turkey.

Zaret then discussed the trip to Saudi Arabia, in which IU formalized its relationship with King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

McRobbie also presented an IU alumnus, Sami Baroum, with the Thomas Hart Benton Medallion for his public service.

The trip to India was a short one, with the goal of attending the opening ceremony of IU’s new gateway center, the IU India Office.

Zaret was careful to point out that the gateway is not a satellite campus.

“They are multi-purpose multifunctional spaces,” he said.

He said there have been a number of talks and symposiums held at the gateway and that these talks cover a wide variety of topics, reflecting the breadth of faculty interests at IU.

Zaret said that while considering relations abroad IU tries to focus on developing close relationships with a small number of institutions rather than dispersing their resources to many institutions and thus fostering ? lower-quality relationships.

“We have 32 priority countries with whom we want to work more and more closely,” Zaret said.

Saudi Arabia, Turkey and India are three of these ?countries.

Trips such as these serve to do more than establish relationships and agreements, Zaret said.

“We also are looking for advice, suggestions, help with various IU initiatives, such as the establishment of IU gateways,” he said.

Zaret said the language barrier was not much of an issue on the trips, as English is widely spoken in all three countries.

He said the universities IU officials visit with are selected strategically and are primarily institutions that could be considered peer ?institutions.

He conceded that IU has relationships with institutions that could not be considered peer institutions, but these are also strategic.

“We give a lot of thought to the universities with which we visit,” he said.

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