McRobbie wraps up first official visit to Vietnam by a standing Indiana University president
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HANOI, Vietnam, and BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Michael A. McRobbie has concluded the historic first official visit by a standing Indiana University president to Vietnam, wrapping up two days of meetings with educational and governmental officials and IU alumni.
On Tuesday, McRobbie met with leaders of Vietnam's National Assembly and of Vietnam National University-Hanoi -- one of the country's only two national universities and its oldest. Joining him were IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret and IU first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie.
On Wednesday, he continued discussions with Vietnamese government officials and met with the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, David Shear. The ambassador also held a reception for IU alumni, friends and senior Vietnamese officials in his residence.
"Indiana University has a long history of engagement in Southeast Asia, including in Vietnam, and we have been privileged to help prepare many of its next generation of leaders for future challenges," said McRobbie, one of few major U.S. university presidents to visit this country. "As these students return to Vietnam to work in a variety of positions and organizations, we are proud to claim them as alumni of Indiana University.
"Our meetings here in Hanoi have been mutually productive and also will prove beneficial to many of our students in Indiana, who appreciate the major role that Vietnam will play in the future."
Vietnam is one of the world’s most populous countries, with nearly 100 million people. It is also one of Asia’s fastest-growing and most dynamic economies, with an annual economic growth rate of about 6 percent annually. The country also boasts a long and storied history of higher education: Vietnam’s first national university, the Imperial Academy, was established in 1076 and remained open until 1779. It was housed in Hanoi’s Temple of Literature, which members of the IU delegation visited this week, one of several temples dedicated to Confucius and Vietnam’s oldest and foremost monument to education.
Among the primary purposes for McRobbie's visit to Vietnam were expanding upon a partnership, established in 2009, between Vietnam National University and IU, and highlighting how IU's top-ranked School of Public and Environmental Affairs can further contribute its internationally recognized expertise in public policy and financial management to helping Vietnam’s government better serve its citizenry.
Joined by David Reingold and Anh Tran from the SPEA in Bloomington, McRobbie met with Phùng Xuân Nhạ, VNU's president.
Reingold, executive associate dean of SPEA, has helped forge partnerships between IU and VNU, as well as with Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training. A native of Vietnam and a professor at SPEA, Tran founded the Vietnam Young Leader Awards, a prestigious scholarship program that brings outstanding government officials from Vietnam to the U.S. for master’s and Ph.D. degrees.
In addition to discussing further partnership efforts between SPEA and VNU, McRobbie explored new opportunities involving IU's School of Global and International Studies. IU is in the process of expanding its language and cultural courses about the nations of Southeast Asia and preparing to establish a new center for Southeast Asian studies. Vietnamese language, culture and history and other topics related to Vietnam will increasingly be part of SGIS' focus in the future.
On Tuesday afternoon, the IU delegation met with members of the Vietnamese parliament's Committee for Financial and Budgetary Affairs at the National Assembly, including its chairman, Phùng Quốc Hiển. They discussed IU's specialized teaching and consulting abilities in a number of legal and policy areas. McRobbie and Hiển agreed they could serve as the basis of strong collaborative activities between their respective institutions.
Members of the IU delegation also visited the National Academy of Public Administration, which provides undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate education in law, administration and government management for students and public servants in Vietnam. NAPA and SPEA signed an official partnership agreement in 2012. Since then, they have initiated several faculty and student exchanges and collaborated on research projects.
Wednesday, McRobbie met with Nguyen Xuan Vang, director general for Vietnam International Education Development in the Ministry of Education and Training, and with Ambassador Shear to discuss IU’s continued engagement in Vietnam through the Vietnam Young Leaders Awards and other initiatives that will contribute to the betterment of Vietnam's government and society, while furthering IU’s profile as a leading international university.
IU has more than 300 living alumni in Vietnam, and about 45 Vietnamese students were enrolled this past academic year. Many of them, including nearly all of the graduates of the Vietnam Young Leaders Awards, attended a reception Wednesday at the U.S. Embassy.
The study of Asia at IU spans more than 20 departments and professional schools on the Bloomington campus, including the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, which recently marked its 50th anniversary; and the Title VI-supported East Asian Studies Center. IU soon will announce details of a new Southeast Asia Studies Center.
In addition to visiting Vietnam, McRobbie and the rest of the IU delegation have traveled to Japan, Singapore and China and will visit with alumni in Hong Kong before returning to Indiana. Reports about the trip are available at a blog site, IU Goes to Asia, as well as new website, IU Worldwide, and through official IU social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.