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School of Global and International Studies develops Tobias Center from $5 million gift



The School of Global and International Studies has established a center that gathers experts and focuses on issues in international development.

Former IU Trustee Randall Tobias and his wife Deborah Tobias donated $5 million to establish the Tobias Center for Innovation in International Development. The Inaugural Tobias Center Conference on Nov. 10-11 in the GISB auditorium recognizes the beginning of this center.

“One of the goals of the Tobias Center is this question of how we measure developmental success,” said Stephen Macekura, assistant professor in the international studies department. 

The center does not have a physical space because the majority of the funding is going toward the research and conferences that gather everyone together once a year, Macekura said. He said the main purpose of the center will be to provide opportunities for researchers and policymakers to connect and look at issues in international development.

A conference will take place every year to gather researchers and officials together to discuss international issues. The conferences will be the main meetingplace of the center.

“It’s sort of a virtual space for bringing people together,” Macekura said.

Lee Feinstein, dean of the School of Global and International Studies, said the center is looking to address a broad spectrum of international issues including public health, education, economy growth and overall development.

“We have a number of really good scholars on the faculty who are engaged in different aspects of these issues,” Feinstein said.

The center will deepen faculty research and allow for real-world impact by connecting findings to government leaders and policymakers, Feinstein said.

“It’s one of the real strengths of the center,” Feinstein said.

Macekura said his research focuses on the different ways to define a developed and successful country, whether it be through the economy or social indicators.

Macekura will be speaking on a panel titled “Metrics for Development” at the conference where he will be talking more about his research in this area. 

Other conference topics include HIV/AIDS, the war in Afghanistan, and trade and investment.

Former Republican Sen. Richard Lugar will give the keynote address at the conference. Other guests include retired U.S. Army General David Rodriguez, who commanded in Afghanistan, as well as other leaders and scholars from around the world.

“It is going to be bringing in all sorts of voices,” Macekura said. 

Deborah Tobias spoke to President Michael McRobbie about wanting to do something for her husband’s 75th birthday that would reflect his interest in international development, according to the Oct. 31 press release. She donated $2.5 million to develop this center. Randall Tobias matched his wife’s donation, making the total $5 million. 

Throughout his lifetime, Randall Tobias has been active in international development and has been given the titles U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, U.S. Director of Foreign Assistance and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. 

Feinstein said Randall and Deborah Tobias have been strong supporters of IU and international issues. 

“This gift is a real vote of confidence in this program and the school,” Feinstein said.

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