To the HLS Community,
I write with deep thanks, warm memories, and great confidence in our school’s future as I conclude my time as dean of HLS.
When I arrived in July 2014, our school’s home was in the charmingly decrepit quarters of Memorial Hall. Our telephone rang in the campus Motor Pool, instead of our desks.
Our new school was undaunted.
Now, nearly eight years later, thanks to your dedication and talent, and the support of our university and state, you are setting the path for the future of global and international studies. Today, we offer instruction in 70 languages, from Arabic to Zulu. We host eleven Title VI area studies centers — most in the country and best in IU history. We have added 25 new tenure track faculty across the humanities and social sciences.
And, we have done so at a time when many universities and high schools have been moving in the opposite direction, shuttering language programs, and turning away from area studies. IU, instead, doubled down on global education with our new building; support for faculty hires; and a renewed commitment to further strengthen area studies, plus an emphasis on language study.
These elements are what have made our school distinctive: our deepened emphasis on the importance of the study of place to a genuine understanding of the world, alongside the study of global trends that cross borders.
This approach sets us apart. It equips our students with humility – a prerequisite to analytical thinking, not to mention a quality often missing from global policymaking. It is the “HLS way,” which has attracted many of the best students on this campus — or any campus — to study here, making HLS among the largest global and international studies schools in the country.
I have warm memories of the events and experiences you have brought to our school and university.
A special performance for HLS students by Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, the first event in our auditorium.
The outdoor screening of “Spirited Away” by the great director Hayao Miyazaki on the school’s front lawn.
The visit co-hosted by the Polish Studies Center, under the leadership of Joanna Nizynska with the support of Halina Goldberg, of the great twentieth century composer, Krzysztof Penderecki, presiding over the monumental St. Luke Passion to a packed house in the MAC.
The inspirational growth of our Language Workshop, despite lockdown, as a genuinely national program that leads the country in the study of Lesser Commonly Taught Languages, and the language and cultural expertise of our Title VI Centers that has aided the resettlement of Afghans seeking to make a home in the United States.
Our dedicated, innovative, and world-renowned language faculty are the beating heart of HLS.
Jessy O’Reilly and Huss Banai brought our students to Glasgow as formal observers to the COP talks last fall, making sure to get a selfie for their students with Presidential Special Envoy for Climate Change, John Kerry. Secretary Kerry, of course, inaugurated our new building in 2015, in his final year as Secretary of State, an event memorialized on a plaque in our atrium.
Others drawing crowds include Mayor Pete, who made his campaign foreign policy address at the school; a special student lunch with Samantha Power on the margins of our annual conference on America’s Role in the World; and Masha Yovanovitch, the brave former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine (and an alumna of our Language Workshop), who delivered remarks at a lecture which corresponded with the meeting of the Taras Shevchenko Ukrainian Studies Conference on campus. Governor Holcomb’s first address at IU was at HLS, and Senator Young delivered the inaugural Richard G. Lugar Lecture.
Not a week passes without a major cultural event or lecture at HLS. Step into our elevator, and you will be reminded of Manling Luo’s conference on Chinese literature. The Annual Danner Lecture sponsored by MELC. Seung-kyung Kim’s annual Institute for Korean Studies conference, and the building excitement about Korea Remixed, which began this spring semester.
Peg Sutton has brought together students from across campus under the auspices of the Southeast Asian Studies Program to discuss the plight of the Rohingya among many other programs. David Bosco hosted a conference on governance of the seas at the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea in Hamburg. Steve Vinson’s conference on digitization and Egyptology was a much-anticipated event. The workshops of the Tobias Center for Innovation in International Development continue to attract top scholars in the field. Distinguished Professor Christopher Beckwith of CEUS has delivered well-attended lectures on thinking like a Scythian.
Supporting all our activities is our outstanding staff. There is no group more professional, more talented, and more dedicated on this campus. Every day in this position, I have been grateful for their confidence and support.
As I conclude my time as dean, I do so with confidence about our future. Our department chairs and center directors have generously put their research on hold to advance the mission of our school. It can be a tall order. As a growing school, there is much to do. I am gratified that Nick Cullather will assume the role of interim dean. Nick was associate and then executive associate dean, who served five years in those roles, from the very beginning of this enterprise. He will be outstanding in the role, and is the kind of person who makes those around him feel better about themselves, and the work they do. I was fortunate to have him by my side, and now, we are all fortunate to have him lead.
I am told that once a Hoosier, always a Hoosier, and it seems to be so. Although I am concluding my time as dean, I will continue to be involved and to support the school; Elaine will remain on the faculty at The Media School. I look forward to watching the school continue to grow in scope and intellectual prowess.
I could not be more confident in the future of our school, or more grateful for the opportunity to serve as its founding dean.
With admiration and appreciation,