Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies has received a gift from Shaun and Jill Byrnes to name the Russian and East European Institute in honor of Robert F. Byrnes. The gift also establishes a distinguished scholar within the school.
The institute is the oldest and largest area studies center at Indiana University. IU says Byrnes came to the university in 1956 as a Russian specialist and founded the institute now bearing his name in 1958.
“Robert Byrnes was one of our country’s most accomplished and influential scholars of Russia, Eastern Europe and Russian-American relations,” stated IU President Michael McRobbie. “At the height of the Cold War, he played a central role in the opening of academic exchanges with the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. He also worked with leaders at Indiana University to develop one of the world’s most renowned centers on Russian and East European area studies.
The institute has held a designation as a U.S. Department of Education-funded Title VI National Resource Centers since its founding and is one of 11 such centers at the Hamilton Lugar School.
“This generous gift will ensure the institute that now bears his name will continue onward and upward, preparing future leaders in business, education and public service to carry on his legacy and confront the critical issues facing this dynamic and strategically important region of the world,” added McRobbie.
Byrnes also founded and led the Inter-University Committee on Travel Grants, which fostered an exchange of students and scholars between the United States and the Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria.
IU says the gift counts toward the $3 billion campaign, For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign.