IU President Michael McRobbie presented Secretary of State John Kerry with a key to the new Global and International Studies Building, home to the School of Global and International Studies, Thursday afternoon.
After speaking at the IU Auditorium, Kerry spoke to a far smaller crowd at the new GISB to celebrate the new building and school.
During a toast, Kerry said policymakers need to focus less on war and politics and more on philosophy and values, adding that he believes the SGIS will help policymakers do just that.
“Having a school in the heartland of America focused on global and international studies, in this caliber, is essential for our country,” he said.
Founding Dean of the School of Global and International Studies Lee Feinstein said in an email that Kerry’s visit is an acknowledgment of the University’s significant investment in global studies.
He added that it makes a lot of sense for Kerry to visit IU, a leader in the number of students who study abroad and the number of students who volunteer for the Peace Corps.
Feinstein said the Midwest and Indiana have produced some of the country’s leading foreign policy thinkers and do-ers, including former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and current advisor to John Kerry, Marie Harf.
“I hope that (Kerry’s) talk will be a motivator for the future potential scholars and Secretaries of State on campus,” he said in the email.
Richard Lugar and Lee Hamilton, both Kerry’s former congressional colleagues, toasted his services to both the school and his country.
Richard Lugar is a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, while Lee Hamilton is a former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Both are professors of practice at the SGIS.
While Lugar focused on the attention Kerry has brought to the SGIS, Hamilton focused on the ability Kerry has brought to his position.
“He deals with a world that is a tangled mess,” Hamilton said. “Crises cascade and converge upon us in nearly every part of the globe. Instability and threats to our security interests abound. The number of highly complex foreign policy challenges, which he set out for us so magnificently and elegantly just a few minutes ago, is simply staggering.”
In response to these challenges, Hamilton said Kerry brings formidable advocacy and negotiation skills.
“He understands that we live in a tough and violent world with people and groups who want to do us harm; that not every challenge can be solved, some must be managed; that the search for alternative views and better ideas must never stop,” he said.
In response to these challenges, Hamilton said Kerry also understands that policymakers must listen to the public’s views.
“The pubic today is wary of military intervention; reluctant to fully embrace a world leadership role, but not ready to abandon it; favors neither isolationism, nor policing the world,” he said. “Through it all, he continues to engage and try his level best to solve and manage America’s challenges.”
After the luncheon, Kerry met with ten students. Each student had the opportunity to ask one question, ranging in topics from intervention in Syria to support in Africa.
Chuck Carney, director of communication and marketing for the SGIS, said each student was nominated by various departments throughout the school. The school’s dean, executive associate dean and assistant dean then judged an essay from each nominee to narrow down the list.
Carney said the selection process was intended to cover a broad section of the school and recognize its outstanding students.