BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Adam Sterling, U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, is visiting Indiana University to meet with administrators and faculty and to learn more about IU’s programs in eastern European language and area studies.
Sterling’s visit Tuesday is part of a broader trip to the Hoosier State organized by the Indiana National Guard and its State Partnership Program to further develop its relations with Slovakia.
He will meet with Lauren Robel, provost and executive vice president; Terrence Mason, IU School of Education dean; Patrick O’Meara, vice president emeritus of international affairs and special adviser to President Michael A. McRobbie; and Lee Feinstein, School of Global and International Studies dean and former U.S. ambassador to Poland.
Most of Sterling’s visit will consist of meetings with faculty and administrators in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures in the IU College of Arts and Sciences. He will also meet with IU students who are interested in Slovakia or a career in diplomacy.
“It is essential for both our students and our faculty to draw upon the experience and expertise of professionals like Ambassador Sterling who have used their training in languages and international affairs as an integral part of their careers,” said Russell Valentino, a professor in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures and associate dean for international affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“While IU has a long and distinguished history of training experts in the broad array of fields associated with central and eastern Europe, the truth is that we often don’t know exactly how our students will apply what they have learned, and the opportunities are frequently much more open-ended than we realize,” Valentino added. “In fact, they change all the time, which makes it all the more important that we cultivate close partnerships like those we’ll be discussing during the ambassador’s visit.”
IU offers the most foreign language courses of any college or university in the country.
The Indiana National Guard has partnered with Slovakia since 1993, shortly after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia. IU, which has assisted with language and area studies training over those years, signed a formal educational partnership agreement with the Indiana National Guard in 2009.
Kirk White, IU assistant vice president for strategic partnerships, a field artillery officer in the Indiana Army National Guard and deputy commander for the 81st Troop Command, said Sterling’s visit highlights IU’s role in helping the U.S. build enduring strategic relationships around the world.
“In addition to military-to-military collaboration, the National Guard Bureau established the State Partnership program to facilitate civil-to-civil exchanges with the hope that each state would link business, education and government organizations between the partner states and countries,” White said. “We are very pleased that Ambassador Sterling is visiting the campus to discuss opportunities with IU’s distinguished education, language and area studies programs and further exchanges with faculty and students.”
IU established its Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures 70 years ago. IU is the only university in Indiana to offer a doctoral degree, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees, in Slavic languages and literature.
The department has a full array of language, literature, culture and linguistics courses for students interested in the study of Russian, Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Czech, Polish, Romanian and Ukrainian. It is home to Slavica Publishers, the leading U.S. specialty scholarly press devoted to the field of Slavic languages and literatures and Slavic and eastern European studies in general.
In 1958, IU established the Russian and East European Institute, which is one of 16 U.S. Department of Education-funded Title VI National Resource/FLAS Centers for Russia and eastern Europe. Since 1950, IU Bloomington has offered intensive summer language training, including in Slavic languages.
Sterling is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. He served from 2013 to 2016 as deputy chief of mission and twice as chargé d’affaires in the Netherlands. He also served in the same capacities in Azerbaijan from 2010 to 2013. From 2006 to 2009, he was the director for central and eastern European affairs on the National Security Council staff at the White House.
His other Washington assignments were as special assistant to the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs (2005-06) and as a desk officer in the Office of Central Asian Affairs (1995-97). His overseas assignments have included tours as a political officer in the U.S. embassies in Israel (2001-05) and Kazakhstan (1998-2001). He also served in political, administrative and consular assignments at the U.S. embassies in Belgium (1993-95) and Peru (1991-93).
Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 1990, Sterling worked for the mayor of New York as a liaison to the United Nations and the New York-based foreign consular corps. He earned a Master of Public Policy degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree from Grinnell College in Iowa. He speaks French, Spanish, Russian, Azerbaijani and Dutch and is studying Slovak.