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Last modified: Monday, April 29, 2013

Vice President Biden and Sen. Coats help inaugurate IU School of Global and International Studies

April 29, 2013

Editors: Video of today's ceremony is available at

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie presided over groundbreaking ceremonies today for the new home of the School of Global and International Studies, which was approved by the IU Board of Trustees in August 2012.

SGIS Rendering

A rendering of the new Global and International Studies Building

Print-Quality Photo

Construction of the $53 million Global and International Studies Building is expected to take two years. The four-story, 165,000-square-foot structure, near the Herman B Wells Library and the Arboretum, will be ready for the 2015-16 academic school year.

For the first time, IU's internationally focused research and teaching activities will be housed in a single building offering new possibilities for collaboration. Ten academic departments and nine of IU's 11 federally funded Title VI research centers crucial to the new school -- now in buildings spread across the campus -- will be housed there.

The ceremony also served to formally inaugurate the school. McRobbie said the new building will help IU further expand its highly regarded educational, scholarly and research activities in virtually every part of the world, and foster greater collaboration between the schools and programs. The groundbreaking ceremony took place at the IU Auditorium and included invited guests U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., who gave the keynote address; and Vice President Joe Biden, who offered remarks via video.

"This is a historic day for Indiana University and a historic day for the new School of Global and International Studies, which is built on the firm foundation of the university's broad strengths in global and international studies," McRobbie said. "The magnificent new building for which we break ground today will house most of our leading departments, programs and centers in international studies, and will feature major new classroom facilities specially designed to support education in these fields.

"In doing so, it will foster the collaborative, cross-disciplinary research necessary to fully address the difficult and complicated questions asked by those who investigate global forces and developments. In addition, cutting-edge technologies in the new building will also allow our students to collaborate with other scholars and business partners anywhere in the world. By bringing together into the new School of Global and International Studies the core of IU's extraordinary resources in global and international studies, the university stands poised to join the most outstanding programs in the world in these truly vital areas."

"With this new building, we are making a visible and enduring commitment to equipping our students with global competencies for the 21st century," said Lauren Robel, IU Bloomington provost and IU executive vice president. "We are dedicated to ensuring that all students have access to the incredible expertise this school offers, whether through classes, colloquia, research or overseas opportunities. Whether students seek degrees from this new school, or take advantage of its resources to enrich another course of study, inaugurating this building is a historic step in affirming that an education at Indiana University Bloomington is truly a global affair."

The building will provide facilities for 320 core faculty members and will feature technologically advanced learning and research environments that will enable faculty and students to work with partners around the world to understand today's and tomorrow's global issues. IU is looking for the school's first leader and is in the initial stages of a national search for a dean. A significant number of new faculty positions are expected to be added to the school in the coming years.

In his remarks at today's groundbreaking, Larry Singell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the School of Global and International Studies will be different in that it will feature a "novel combination of liberal arts depth and professional school expertise."

"More than 250 members of the College's full-time research faculty will be the creative force of this school. They possess a range of global and international expertise that is greater than at any other institution in the world," Singell said. "Partnering with nearly 100 faculty in IU's professional schools will make the school even stronger, its disciplinary range broader, the expertise that it will bring to world issues even more robust.

"We have ambitious plans for this new school," he added. "We intend for it to stand with the world's elite programs in global and international studies. And we intend for our students to graduate with the skills and knowledge they need to compete with the best of their peers."

Maria Bucur-Deckard, associate dean for international programs, the John W. Hill Chair in East European history in the College of Arts and Sciences and a faculty member for 17 years, said the school will offer a platform for developing new, creative and meaningful ways of defining questions, analyzing problems and producing more integrated solutions.

"We are living in exciting times as knowledge makers," she said. "What makes this school an important addition to higher education nationally is the insistence that, first, we ask big questions and think theoretically about globalization and the reshaping of international affairs; and second, we drill down to identify real-life solutions for the problems of the day in the places where they are manifested.

"One cannot thrive without the other; the foundations of a liberal arts education, as articulated in the College of Arts and Sciences, remain our anchor in pursuing specific research and teaching directions."

In his remarks, Biden agreed and said the new school will play an important role in shaping the future.

"It's an important mission that you are starting today, and it's important because international studies is becoming more and more consequential every single day," Biden said. "As you all know, right now we live in a fundamentally different world than we did even 20 years ago. Today there are stateless actors wielding incredible power, even with very few resources. Technology is transforming security and international relations. And new challenges emerge every single day, from the Middle East to Africa, from South America to Asia.

"Schools like the one you're inaugurating today are going to be needed in order for us to be able to keep up," Biden added.

In his keynote speech, Coats described the history of America's role in an increasingly complex world, quoting both Thomas Paine and Martin Luther King, and said the rest of the world sees democracy as the answer, "as we always have."

"The Indiana University I have known has always been active and interested in international affairs, foreign cultures and languages, and America's place in an increasingly interconnected world," Coats said.

"This remarkable initiative -- to establish the School of Global and International Studies -- has been an astounding achievement. To create an idea and a program, and then to navigate the maze of academic politics and bureaucracy in little more than a year, is a miracle of good planning and interpersonal skill," he added.

"And then President McRobbie took the most powerful step possible to crown this achievement: He secured the services of Dick Lugar and Lee Hamilton, our state's most distinguished practitioners of international politics and diplomacy. No other school of international studies in our nation has such a superb set of congressional titans as these two professors of practice. This is a great way to begin."

Other speakers included Alicia Nieves, a senior studying political science and in IU's Individualized Major Program. The program included music by the Middle Eastern musical ensemble Salaam and students in the Jacobs School of Music.

For decades, IU has taught more foreign languages than almost any other American institution of higher education. About 70 languages are taught at IU Bloomington regularly, which is home to federally funded Language Flagship programs in Chinese, Turkish and Swahili, and National Language Resource Centers in African and Central Asian languages.

The building project will not require state funding. About half of the funds -- $26.5 million -- will come from IU's share of revenue from the Big Ten Network. Remaining funds will come from a combination of indirect research cost recovery, proceeds from real estate sales and other university sources.

The building will feature two wings connected by a three-story glass atrium and designed to facilitate collaboration through several gathering places.

Like many other buildings on the IU Bloomington campus, the exterior of the Global and International Studies Building will feature southern Indiana limestone but also will be accented by stones from other parts of the world.

The building also will alleviate demand for classroom space. In addition to freeing up classroom spaces across the campus, the Global and International Studies Building will include at least a half dozen classrooms that can accommodate up to 60 people, as well as a larger, auditorium-style classroom and several meeting rooms.

It will likely be designated as a "silver" LEED-certified structure when the approval process is complete. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification program that uses nationally accepted benchmarks to assess the environmental friendliness of buildings and landscape projects.