For the first time in nearly 60 years, a sitting Indiana University president will visit Turkey. Michael McRobbie is leaving this weekend on a trip that will include alumni evens and meetings with government and university leaders.

September 18, 2014

News Release

Bloomington, Ind. — IU President Michael A. McRobbie will leave Sunday for a weeklong visit to Turkey — one of the most prominent and largest nations in the Middle East and a country at the crossroads between Europe and Asia.

During this visit, McRobbie will be working to build on IU's long-standing relationships in Turkey and meeting with government officials, the heads of several of the nation's top universities and leaders in philanthropy and business. He will also address IU alumni at events in Ankara and Istanbul.

This will be the first visit to Turkey by a sitting IU president since Herman B Wells in 1955. McRobbie will be joined on the trip by IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret and IU first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie.

“For more than 70 years, Indiana University has been a leading center in the United States for teaching and research in the areas of Turkish and Turkic languages and culture,” McRobbie said. “We are very enthusiastic about expanding upon our long history of engagement in this important part of the world, meeting with our many successful Turkish alumni and exploring new partnerships, programs and initiatives that will enable more faculty and student exchanges and research collaborations and greater engagement with a nation seeking to fully realize its educational and research potential.”

For decades, students and scholars have come to IU from Turkey to pursue educational opportunities and collaborate with IU faculty. Turkey consistently ranks among the top 10 nations of origin among IU's international students.

On Sept. 23, McRobbie will sign a Mevlana agreement with Bo?azi?i University, one of Turkey's top universities. This agreement is part of a Turkish governmental program to provide funding for student and faculty exchanges between Turkey's higher education institutions and their counterparts around world.

In recent years, IU and Bo?azi?i University have developed a number of relationships between faculty and research programs in a variety of areas, including anthropology, Turkish studies and philanthropic studies.

On Sept. 25, McRobbie and members of the IU delegation will travel to the capital of Turkey, Ankara, to visit the Middle East Technical University, another of Turkey’s top universities, to discuss faculty exchanges in the field of education. He also will meet with leaders at Ankara University, which has a close connection to IU's Turkish Flagship Program and hosts IU students in intensive language programs.

While in Ankara, he will meet with members of Turkey’s national higher education board and top governmental officials. He will meet in Istanbul with senior administrators at the Vehbi Ko? Foundation, one of the country’s largest non-governmental charitable organizations, which aims to support Turkey’s development through grants to support programs in education, health care and culture.

At an alumni reception and dinner Sept. 27, McRobbie will present the Thomas Hart Benton Medallion to IU alumnus Erdal Yildirim, the general manager of the Vehbi Ko? Foundation, in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments in nonprofit management and philanthropy over his career in Turkey and around the globe.

The Benton Medallion is given to individuals who have achieved a level of distinction in public office or service and have exemplified the values of IU.

Turkish language instruction at IU dates back to the early 1940s, when the American Council of Learned Societies coordinated university efforts to train students in foreign languages that were not commonly taught. The Turkish instruction program was so successful that it led to the development of other language programs at IU, including Russian.

Today, IU is home to the prestigious Turkish Flagship Program in the United States, the only federally funded program in this area. The undergraduate program at IU is designed for students who wish to achieve advanced professional proficiency in Turkish while pursuing a degree in their chosen field.

The program is led by Kemal Silay, director of the Turkish Studies Program and the permanent holder of the Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Endowed Chair.

The Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies Chair and the Turkish Studies program are part of the Department of Central Eurasian Studies at IU Bloomington, which celebrated its 70th anniversary last year. The department has long been the world’s leading center of expertise on Central Eurasia, a region of the globe that includes Turkey.

The department is housed within IU's new School of Global and International Studies. The school's founding dean is Ambassador Lee Feinstein, a former senior official in the Obama and Clinton administrations who served with distinction as the U.S. ambassador to Poland.

Turkish is also one of the languages taught as part of IU's Summer Language Workshop, which has offered intensive language instruction since 1950 to graduate and undergraduate students and professionals.

IU Bloomington also is home to the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center, a federally funded Title VI institution that works to increase understanding of the region, including the Turkic peoples. The campus is also home to the Center for Turkic and Iranian Lexicography and Dialectology.

Additionally, IU has vast archival collections in the Lilly Library and the IU Art Museum that support academic research and increased public awareness of Turkey’s cultural heritage.

Reports as the trip progresses will be available at a blog site, IU Goes to Turkey, and through official IU social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: Indiana University

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