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Last modified: Thursday, November 10, 2011

IU's O'Meara receives President's Medal for contributions to international engagement

Nov. 10, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie on Nov. 9 awarded the President's Medal for Excellence to Vice President Emeritus Patrick O'Meara, who, over the past two decades, guided the university's activities around the world and helped raise its international profile. The President's Medal is one of the highest honors an IU president can bestow.

O'Meara recently stepped down as vice president for international affairs and currently chairs the Center for International Education and Development Assistance, which he helped to establish at IU. He also serves as a special adviser to the president.

O'Meara Lecture

Indiana University Vice President Emeritus Patrick O'Meara, left, received the President's Medal for Excellence from IU President Michael A. McRobbie on Nov. 9.

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McRobbie presented O'Meara with the President's Medal during the inaugural Patrick O'Meara International Lecture at IU Bloomington. The lecture, established in recognition of O'Meara's contributions to international programs and studies at IU, was delivered by Timothy J. Roemer, former congressman, U.S. ambassador to India and 9/11 Commission member.

During his introductory remarks, McRobbie shared a story about leading a delegation to Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, in 2008. While there, McRobbie and his colleagues met with more than a dozen faculty members who had graduated from IU, including Yeon-Seob Ha, then serving as Yonsei's dean of international affairs.

"Dr. Ha greeted all of us warmly," McRobbie recalled, "but he reserved a special greeting for Vice President Patrick O'Meara, who had served as his dissertation adviser during Dr. Ha's time as a doctoral student at IU. This meeting reinforced to me the worldwide impact that Patrick O'Meara has had as an educator and an ambassador of higher education over the many decades that he has served the university."

O'Meara, who came to IU in the 1960s, earned his doctorate at IU and has been a political science professor as well as a dean and vice president. As IU's first vice president for international affairs, he led the creation in 2008 of the International Strategic Plan, which focuses on increasing IU's presence throughout the world, strengthening its strategic international partnerships, attracting new international students and ensuring that IU students are prepared for the global economy.

A renowned scholar of international development, comparative politics and African politics, in particular, and former director of the African Studies Program at IU Bloomington, O'Meara has published a number of books, including the classic textbook Africa, a standard text used by nearly 100 colleges and universities around the world.

O'Meara Lecture

From left: Patrick O'Meara, Michael McRobbie and Timothy Roemer

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O'Meara has received numerous international honors, including the Cross of St. George awarded in Spain; the Warsaw University Medal; the Amicus Poloniae from the Embassy of Poland; an honorary doctorate from National Institute of Development Administration in Thailand; and the Gold Cross of Merit of the Republic of Hungary.

In 2005, on behalf of IU, he received the Higher Education Prize from the Goldman Sachs Foundation for "superior achievement in engaging students in learning about other world regions, cultures and languages." IU has awarded him the Thomas Hart Benton Mural Medallion, the IU John Ryan Award and the IU Distinguished Service Award.

The President's Medal recognizes, among other criteria, distinction in public service, service to IU, and extraordinary merit and achievement in the arts, humanities, sciences, education and industry. The medal itself is a reproduction in silver of the symbolic jewel of office worn by Indiana University's president at ceremonial occasions.

For a list of past recipients of the President's Medal, go to Note: The list does not include emeriti faculty members John Preer and Ting-Kai Li, who received the president's medal in September.