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Renewing historic ties, beginning new adventures in Berlin

Beginning Monday, Nov. 2, an Indiana University delegation, led by IU President Michael A. McRobbie, will embark on a week-long trip to Berlin, the capital of Germany, one of Europe’s most dynamic centers of economic, political and cultural activity, and a place where IU’s connections run especially deep.

Nearly 70 years ago, another IU president, Herman B Wells, left Bloomington for Berlin, to help the city rebuild a once-proud academic core greatly decimated by war. Wells’ efforts led to the creation in 1948 of the Freie Universität Berlin, or “Free University of Berlin,” today one of Germany’s and the world’s most preeminent universities. Wells work in Berlin also helped set the stage for IU’s remarkable growth in the decades that followed into one of our nation’s most internationally focused universities, engaged with all parts of the world through scholarship and research.

The IU Europe Gateway office will open in the heart of East Berlin in the Kreuzberg neighborhood, an international and cultural center.

The IU Europe Gateway office will open in the heart of East Berlin in the Kreuzberg neighborhood, an international and cultural center.

The IU delegation will use its time in Berlin next week to renew its half-century-old partnership with Free University and celebrate what is now the university’s longest-running graduate exchange program. It will also introduce and initiate an exciting new venture in Germany: the IU Europe Gateway office, IU’s third such facility for international faculty and student activities, following the launch of similar offices in New Delhi and Beijing.

Located within the new Council on International Educational Exchange Global Institute, in the Kreuzberg District of East Berlin, the new gateway office has been established through the work of IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret and his office, which has organized the IU trip to Berlin. The gateway will serve as a central hub for IU activities in Germany and across Europe, enabling the university to better connect with its students, alumni and institutional partners, while also increasing the visibility and impact of its academic and research programs across the continent.

Like the other IU Global Gateway offices, the new facility will support scholarly research and teaching, study abroad programs, distance learning initiatives and alumni events. It will also provide space for conferences and workshops, such as the office’s inaugural event on Monday afternoon, a discussion of transatlantic data privacy and security with some of the foremost experts in the field, including the commissioner of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the commissioner for data protection and freedom of information in Berlin, and IU Vice President for Research and Distinguished Professor Fred Cate.

Later that week, on Nov. 6, McRobbie will host a reception with IU alumni and friends to formally open the gateway office. In the spirit of Wells, the celebration will include a performance by two alumni of IU’s world-renowned Jacobs School of Music.

In the middle of those two major events will be meetings with leaders at other top Germany universities and top government officials, including U.S. Ambassador to Germany John Emerson. McRobbie will also speak during the opening session of the annual conference of the Council on International Educational Exchange, the leading U.S. non-governmental international education organization.

I’ll be chronicling IU’s time spent in Berlin, offering first-hand, real-time reports of many of the delegation’s daily activities, sharing information about our historic and growing ties to this important part of the world and offering insights into IU’s ongoing effort to strengthen its international engagement efforts.

I hope you will follow along and check in frequently as I share news, photos and updates, and please feel free to reach out to me directly with questions at

Auf wiedersehen, and more soon from Berlin!

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