McRobbie's Africa, Kenya trips send strong messages

  • Sept. 10, 2013

Indiana University President Michael McRobbie’s trip to Africa, especially to the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) program in Eldoret, Kenya, was an important venture and frankly overdue for an IU leader.

McRobbie became the first IU president to visit the program, a partnership between a group of academic health centers led by the IU School of Medicine and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kenya.

The program has made a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Africans who either have, or have been affected by, HIV/AIDS. The program also helps feed 31,000 HIV-affected people daily; provides school fees, nutrition and other assistance for more than 20,000 children left orphaned or vulnerable by HIV/AIDS; and has enrolled 10,000-plus patients in income security programs through initiatives in farming, micro-finance and small business.

It’s been nominated multiple times for the Nobel Peace Prize and if there’s any justice in the world, it will eventually win.

The visit to the program was just one part of McRobbie’s trip to Africa, the first for an IU president to that continent in 20 years. McRobbie’s effort fits well with his commitment to making international connections for IU. The stated reason for the trip was to further IU’s educational reach internationally; increase academic and research opportunities for the university’s students and faculty; and strengthen one of its most effective global partnerships.

Reason enough would have been the trip to AMPATH, though, a program that doesn’t just affect the lives of the people of Kenya, but also IU students year after year.

One of them, former H-T intern Jordan Dunmead, wrote in Monday’s H-T about her experience at AMPATH earlier this summer. A photo gallery, video and longer story appear on

Her coverage and the connections she made in Eldoret, Kenya, will no doubt form the most enduring lessons of her college career.

She is one of 100 IU students who study in Africa each year. More than 170 international students from sub-Saharan Africa study in Bloomington.

Overseas study gives students an opportunity to broaden their view of the globe and what it means to be a citizen of the world. This particular program offers students perhaps the most striking perspective possible about how much different lives can be beyond the Sample Gates, Kirkwood Avenue and Assembly Hall.

President McRobbie’s recognition of the work going on in Africa, and in Kenya in particular, sends a strong message about its importance to the university. It also highlights the importance of Indiana University in the world.