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Historic anniversaries, new global connections in Italy and Poland

Beginning May 25, an Indiana University delegation led by IU President Michael A. McRobbie will embark on a weeklong trip to Italy and Poland, where the university will celebrate prominent anniversaries with key institutional partners dating back as much as a half century while also pursuing new connections that will strengthen IU’s longstanding ties to Europe.

Members of an IU delegation to Italy and Poland will celebrate several key milestones, including the 50th anniversary of IU’s study abroad program at the University of Bologna in Italy.

Members of an IU delegation to Italy and Poland will celebrate several key milestones, including the 50th anniversary of IU’s study abroad program at the University of Bologna in Italy.

While in the two countries, McRobbie, Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret and other delegation members will celebrate two major milestones in the university’s storied history of international engagement: the 50th anniversary of IU’s popular study abroad program in Bologna, Italy, and the 40th anniversary of its successful partnership with the University of Warsaw in Poland.

During the week, McRobbie and Zaret will also meet in Florence with representatives of the Uffizi Gallery Museum, one of the world’s most renowned art museums, and visit Eli Lilly and Co.’s Italian headquarters. In Poland, they will renew IU’s agreement with the University of Warsaw and also reinforce IU’s relationship with Jagiellonian University, one of the country’s oldest and most influential institutions of higher education. The group will also tour the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews with an IU alumnus who directs its core exhibition, meet with top governmental and education leaders, and visit with engaged alumni.

For many decades now, Italy and Poland have been central to IU’s global mission. That mission, as outlined in the university’s Bicentennial Strategic Plan, calls for IU to cement its position as one of the world’s pre-eminent global universities by increasing study abroad opportunities for its students, recruiting talented foreign scholars to its campuses and strengthening its connections with the university’s many international alumni living and working around the world. These efforts are all part of IU’s ever-expanding Global Gateway Network, which now includes offices in Beijing, New Delhi and Berlin.

IU’s expansion of long-held partnerships in Italy and Poland reflects the university’s legacy of global engagement that is intended — in the words of the university’s legendary 11th president, Herman B Wells — to bring Indiana to the world and the world to Indiana.

IU was among the first U.S. universities to establish a study abroad program at the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the Western world, established in 1088. Mark Musa, a renowned Dante scholar and IU professor, established a bilateral exchange which has since been expanded to a consortium of 15 U.S. colleges and universities managed by IU’s Office of Overseas Study. Since the first group in 1965-66, more than 1,500 alumni have completed the immersive Italian program and over 300 University of Bologna students have studied in the U.S.

Likewise, at a time of dramatic political and social transformation, IU became actively involved with the study of Poland. In 1976, IU helped to establish the American Studies Center in Warsaw, the first such center in Eastern Europe, and the Polish Studies Center, housed at IU Bloomington. This led to IU developing academic programs with the University of Warsaw and Jagiellonian University during the Cold War, when such formal exchanges between the two countries was uncommon.

I’ll serve as your eyes and ears to IU’s time in Italy and Poland, delivering first-hand, real-time reports of many of the delegation’s daily activities, sharing information about our historic ties to Europe 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

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