IU leaders' Asian itinerary includes China, Vietnam

  • May 19, 2014

Editor's note: This story from The Bloomington Herald-Times is being published here as a courtesy for readers of IU in the News.

By MJ Slaby

Top leaders from Indiana University will tour Asia for about two weeks to strengthen the university’s ties in the region.

Highlights of the trip, which starts today, include opening a gateway office in Beijing and a visit to Vietnam, making Michael McRobbie the first sitting IU president to visit that country.

A high-level trip such as this one happens about once or twice a year and has a strategic approach, said Mark Land, IU spokesman. 

Instead of the president traveling for a specific event, McRobbie is looking for ways to grow and continue partnerships for research and study as well as visit alumni and leaders, Land said. He said similar previous trips have been to India, South America and Africa.

Along with McRobbie, Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret, IU first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie and IU Foundation President and CEO Dan Smith will make the trip to China, including Hong Kong, along with Japan, Singapore and Vietnam.  

“These countries are home to some of our strongest institutional partnerships or have the greatest potential for new partnerships,” McRobbie said in a news release. 

The IU gateway office in Beijing will be IU’s second overseas office, following one in India, Land said. This home base office gives potential students a place to learn about IU and is a place for seminars and events, he added. Plus, it is a resource for IU students traveling to Beijing.

“It’s our front door to these places and gives us a presence,” Land said, noting the university has plans for similar offices in other cities around the world.

Although the trip will be the fifth time McRobbie has been to China since becoming IU president in 2007, it will be the first time an IU president has been to Vietnam. Yet the decision to go somewhere new isn’t a surprising decision for McRobbie, Land said. He said McRobbie was also the first IU president to visit Ghana.

Going to a new country is a way to learn from its leaders and build ties, Land said.

“It sends a strong message we are committed to being international, and we are committed to expanding IU’s reach,” he said.

IU is already connected to Vietnam: the School of Public and Environmental Affairs has a partnership with Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training as well as the Vietnam National University.

Throughout the various stops on the trip, the delegation will meet with alumni organizations, government officials and business leaders. They will also go to various universities to establish overall relationships and partnerships between specific schools, where they will be joined by IU deans and leaders, Land said.

“Previous trips like this have led to our forging new alliances, and we are confident that our efforts to build bridges with leading institutions in Japan and Vietnam will prove successful,” McRobbie said in the release. “I am excited about the prospects for the continued strengthening of our ties in this region.”