Campus forum stresses IU's plan for strategic international relationships

  • Nov. 12, 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

Every day was a packed with visits, meetings and events for members of recent Indiana University delegations to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and India.

But everything about the visits was strategic -- especially agreements formed with higher education institutions, said David Zaret, IU vice president for international affairs.

An IU delegation visited Turkey in September and then Saudi Arabia and India in October. Both delegations included Zaret and IU President Michael McRobbie as well as several others. Zaret said IU professors who are experts on those countries went on the trips to provide cultural knowledge.

In each place, the IU delegation met with alumni and officials, and in India, the IU gateway office was dedicated. But a large focus of the visits was to form or grow collaborative relationships with other universities in the three countries.

On Tuesday, Zaret spoke in an on-campus forum to share what was accomplished on the recent trips. He said Turkey, Saudi Arabia and India are on a list of IU’s 32 priority countries for institutional partnerships. IU is growing ties with “strategic partners that are peer intuitions,” he said.

“Our strategy is to concentrate and not disperse resources,” Zaret said.

He estimated that within a year, McRobbie will have visited all of the 32 countries on the list. Russia and Poland are next, Zaret said.

However, he said the priority list doesn’t stop professors from working with colleagues in any country they choose. Instead, those 32 countries are where IU wants to grow institutional relationships that have multiple levels instead of spreading out resources.

There are “more than a few opportunities for substantial research collaboration in these counties,” hesaid.

Turkey, Saudi Arabia and India are all in the top 10 countries of origin for IU international students and in turn, home to many IU alumni, Zaret said.

Plus, he said they are countries where IU already has strong academic ties. And more relationships will benefit IU students and faculty as well as their colleagues across the globe, he said.

“These collaborative agreements are of mutual benefit,” Zaret said. “We have a lot we can learn from these agreements as well.”