Skip to main content

IU president to lead delegation to Spain, France

Will help celebrate 50th anniversary of successful Madrid study abroad program

For Immediate Release May 12, 2017

MADRID and PARIS – Indiana University is celebrating the golden anniversary of one of its most successful overseas study programs and globally focused collaborations. This program has made an important contribution to IU’s effort to increase the number of its students studying abroad and heighten its overall international engagement.

On Wednesday, May 17, in Madrid, IU President Michael A. McRobbie and other members of a university delegation will help mark 50 years of the Madrid Program and recognize the consortium of U.S. universities, known as the Universidades Reunidas, that has enabled thousands of students to study abroad in Spain’s capital and largest city.

Plaza Mayor in Madrid
The Plaza Mayor, a central plaza in Madrid.

A partnership initiated between IU and Purdue University in 1965-66 for advanced students of Spanish and joined by the University of Wisconsin in 1970, the Madrid Program, also known as the WIP (Wisconsin-Indiana-Purdue) Program, has proven to be an enduring effort for a half-century. Nearly 3,000 students have participated in the program during its 50-year history.

For the last two decades, IU has managed the wider university consortium that enlists students in the program, which is based at the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain’s most prestigious academic institution and one of the oldest universities in the world, dating back to the late 13th century.

The anniversary celebration is the centerpiece of a 10-day trip to Spain and France that will begin on Monday, May 15. McRobbie’s visits to the two countries will be his first official visit to each since becoming IU’s president in 2007.

As with past official IU international trips, the delegation will look to strengthen the university’s connections with partner universities, government, business and cultural leaders, and alumni. It will also aim to enhance IU’s engagement in Europe and strengthen connections to the region, many of which are advanced through IU’s Global Gateway Network, including the IU Europe Gateway office in Berlin.

The trip is being organized by the IU Office of the Vice President for International Affairs.

“The remarkably successful and enduring Madrid study abroad program reflects the best of Indiana University’s longstanding tradition of international engagement and continuing key institutional emphasis on developing the global literacy of our students,” McRobbie said. “For a half-century now, this program has been a hallmark of our efforts to provide IU students with meaningful and immersive international experiences that can be life-changing and that, increasingly, our state’s employers are seeking as they recruit new talent.”

Spain and France remain two of the most popular study abroad destinations for college and university students across the United States. Around 370 IU students study abroad in the two countries each year.

While in Madrid, McRobbie and fellow delegation members will meet with senior administrators and faculty of Complutense University, as well as with current students, alumni, staff and former resident directors of the Madrid Program. During the 50th-anniversary ceremony, McRobbie will present the Thomas Hart Benton Mural Medallion, awarded for meritorious international service to IU or exceptional achievements worldwide, to Complutense University President Carlos Andradas Heranz.

On May 17, an evening celebration of the Universidades Reunidas at the Complutense University of Madrid, featuring members of the IU delegation, program alumni, consortium partners and current students, will be livestreamed at

While in France, McRobbie will meet with IU students studying abroad as part of the Aix-en-Provence Program, which IU shares with the University of Wisconsin. As part of the program, established in 1962 and joined by IU in 1997, students have the opportunity to deeply immerse themselves in, among other subjects, French language, civilization, culture, history and social science.

McRobbie will also meet with senior administrators and faculty of Aix-Marseille Université, France’s largest university with around 70,000 students. While at AMU, which was founded in the early 15th century as the University of Provence, IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret will renew an agreement between AMU and the School of Engineering and Technology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis that has facilitated student exchanges between the two schools since 2002.

The trip will conclude in Paris, where McRobbie will meet with senior leaders of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie and Université Paris-Sorbonne, two of France’s most prestigious universities, which will merge in early 2018 to establish a new, comprehensive global university in the heart of Paris – Sorbonne Universités – that is expected to rival some of the best in the world.

The top-ranked university in France, UPMC is the country’s largest and most prestigious scientific and medical education center, with more than 3,750 researchers and professor-researchers in 100 laboratories and an additional 2,800 researchers working as partners from four major French national research organizations. Université Paris-Sorbonne is the largest institution in France dedicated to the study of literature, languages, civilizations, arts and humanities, and the social sciences.

Also in Paris, McRobbie will meet and discuss potential collaborative activities with top administrators at Université Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas, France’s first and most prestigious law school, which has a longstanding relationship with the IU Maurer School of Law, and the IESEG School of Management, one of France’s elite business schools and a member of the Université Catholique de Lille, the largest private university in France.

On May 21 in Paris, McRobbie will attend an event with IU alumni living in France and elsewhere in Western Europe, during which he will provide an update on IU activities in the U.S. and worldwide.

Reports as the trip progresses will be available at a blog site, IU Goes to Spain and France 2017, and through official IU social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.

More stories