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From crossroads to crossroads

Beginning Sunday, an Indiana University delegation, led by IU President Michael A. McRobbie, will leave Indiana for a week-long trip to Turkey, one of the largest and most prominent nations in the Middle East and a country commonly referred to as the “crossroads” between Europe and Asia.

Turkey is also a country in which IU’s connections run deep. For more than 70 years, IU has played a major role in the teaching and researching of Turkish and Turkic languages and culture, and students and scholars have come to IU from Turkey for decades to pursue educational opportunities and work with IU faculty, many of whom are now part of IU’s newly launched School of Global and International Studies. Indeed, Turkey consistently ranks among the top 10 nations of origin among IU’s international students.

IU students at a welcoming meeting hosted by the university's Turkish Flagship Center, the only federally funded program in this area.

IU students at a welcoming meeting hosted by the university’s Turkish Flagship Center, the only federally funded program in this area.

IU also boasts the prestigious Turkish Flagship Program, the only federally funded program in this area, which provides intensive instruction in Turkish and English to students studying in degree programs across the university and planning to pursue careers working in Turkey and the Middle East.

These and other programs are vital to IU’s overall international engagement efforts, which are designed to spark increased study abroad opportunities for IU students, generate new research collaborations for faculty and enhance IU’s presence in the most economically and culturally dynamic parts of the world.

Among the many highlights of the trip will be meetings in Istanbul and the capital of Turkey, Ankara, with prominent government officials, the heads of several of Turkey’s top universities and local leaders in education, philanthropy and business.

Additionally, the trip will provide McRobbie and members of the delegation the opportunity to reconnect with IU’s numerous Turkish alumni, many of whom have gone on to impressive careers in the public and private sectors of the principal diplomatic, economic and security power in the region. They include Erdal Yildirim, general manager of the Vehbi Koc Foundation, one of the country’s largest, non-governmental charitable organizations, who will receive IU’s Thomas Hart Benton Medallion in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments in nonprofit management and philanthropy.

McRobbie will be the first sitting IU present to visit Turkey since Herman B Wells traveled there in 1955. Joining him on the trip will be IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret and IU first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie.

And I’ll be there, too, delivering first-hand, real-time reports about our daily activities, sharing information about our strong and continually growing connections to this important part of the world and offering insights into the university’s efforts to further strengthen IU’s position as one of the nation’s most internationally focused universities.

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

See you soon from Istanbul!

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