David Zaret: Celebrating 41 Years of Outstanding Service to Indiana University

Bryan House

Monday, June 11, 2018

IU President Michael A. McRobbie speaks at the retirement celebration for David Zaret, IU vice president of international affairs. Photo by Chaz Mottinger, IU Communications

Good afternoon and welcome.

Thank you for joining us today as we gather to celebrate the long career and outstanding service of David Zaret as he retires as IU’s vice president for international affairs, and to wish him the best in the next chapter of his life.

We are joined today by a number of senior leaders of the university, including many current and former vice presidents.

I do want to recognize David’s predecessor, Vice President Emeritus for International Affairs Patrick O'Meara, who is with us this afternoon—as well as his successor, Hannah Buxbaum, who will become vice president for international affairs on July 1. Would you join me in welcoming them?

I also want to welcome David’s wife, Julie Knost, who is the director of IU’s Office of Affirmative Action. Julie is also retiring on June 30th, the same date as David. Also with us today is David’s son, Max, who graduated from IU in May with a bachelor’s degree in Biology—fittingly, at the last Commencement ceremony where David was on the platform. Max will go on to graduate studies in Biology this fall at the University of Minnesota. David’s daughter, Anna, could not join us today due to her work as a clerk for a federal judge in San Francisco. She will be pursuing a doctoral degree in a special program at the UC-Berkeley School of Law this fall. Would you join me in welcoming Julie and Max?

Honoring David Zaret

Those in the room today understand better than most that internationalization has been one of the most powerful and pervasive forces at work within higher education, certainly for the last two decades, and even earlier. Almost without exception, no corner of the globe, no type of institution, and no academic discipline has been immune to the forces of globalization. This is particularly true in higher education, where the international relationships, partnerships, and programs of universities—especially major public research universities like Indiana University—have become even more central to the missions of universities.

Indiana University has been fortunate to have, for the last seven years, an exceptional leader to help navigate the complex and shifting landscape of international higher education in David Zaret. He, in turn, followed another exceptional leader, Patrick O'Meara.

Thanks in large part to their efforts and those of their outstanding staff, IU continues to enjoy a well-earned reputation as one of the nation's most internationally engaged universities.

David has served Indiana University for more than 40 years. He was a "natural" for the position of vice president for international affairs. He lived and studied abroad as both a student and as a member of the IU faculty. He received his doctoral degree from the University of Oxford and held visiting appointments at Oxford and Heidelberg University in Germany.

He joined the IU faculty in 1977 in the Department of Sociology, where he served in numerous positions and as director of undergraduate and graduate studies. He also has an adjunct appointment in the Department of History.

As a scholar, David’s field of research has focused on major global themes. His interests are in historical sociology, comparative history, and social theory—and he has published extensively on these topics.

He has also given extensive service to the College of Arts and Sciences. David served as executive associate dean of the College from 1999 to 2005, and as interim dean of the College in 2006 and again in 2010-11. He went on to serve for a number of years as senior advisor to the Provost.

And, of course, for the last seven years, David has served as IU’s vice president for international affairs, where he oversees IU’s Office of Overseas Study, the Office of International Services, IU’s Global Gateway Network, the Office of International Partnerships, the Office of International Development, the IUPUI Office of International Affairs, and the Honors Program in Foreign Languages.

David has energetically and ably continued the implementation of IU’s International Strategic Plan, which focuses IU’s international engagement efforts on a number of countries that are the main study abroad destinations for IU students, countries from which international students at IU come, countries that are home to large and growing numbers of international alumni, and countries that are home to leading higher education institutions.

During his time as vice president, David has joined me and other IU senior leaders on about 20 international trips with visits to approximately 30 countries, aimed at strengthening IU's connections with leading universities, meeting with diplomats and government leaders, and renewing ties with IU alumni—and he has visited numerous other countries on his own or with other colleagues as well.  Many of these trips were the first visits ever to these countries by IU senior leaders, or they were the first visits in several decades.

During David's time as vice president for international affairs, IU has established many new partnerships with leading international universities and institutions around the world, and has strengthened its existing international partnerships. And, almost as important, he shut down many dormant or unproductive partnerships.

During his period in office, we have also celebrated major milestones, including the 50th anniversary of the National Institute for Development Administration, which IU helped to establish in Thailand; the 50th anniversary of IU’s study abroad partnerships in Madrid, Spain and Bologna, Italy—two of the oldest ongoing formal study abroad partnerships in the country; and the 40th anniversary of IU’s partnership with the University of Warsaw, which was established at a time when formal exchanges between the two countries were rare due to the Cold War.

David also masterfully oversaw the launch of successful IU Global Gateway Offices in Europe, India, China, and most recently, in Mexico. And he has substantially advanced plans for a number of other offices over the next few years. These offices are IU’s front door in these parts of the world. They support research and teaching, conferences and workshops, study abroad opportunities, and engagement with alumni, businesses, and nongovernmental organizations.

During David's time as vice president, IU has also opened new international chapters of the IU Alumni Association to serve the university's extensive global network of alumni. We now have over 50 international chapters, including in all our priority countries. I have had the pleasure of inaugurating a number of these chapters.

And, of course, at IU, we believe that it is essential that as many of our students as possible study overseas, since there is no better way for them to learn about other countries and cultures. During David’s time as vice president, IU has sent record numbers of IU students overseas for study abroad. Over the last 10 years, we have nearly doubled the number of our students who study abroad. And IU Bloomington currently ranks seventh in the nation (out of about 1,200 universities) in terms of the number of students studying abroad.

We have also warmly welcomed record numbers of international students, who bring diversity in thought and culture to our campuses, and who provide a window into their own countries and cultures. IU Bloomington currently ranks 19th in the nation (again out of about 1,200 universities,) in terms of the number of international students enrolled.

David has also hosted many visiting scholars and dignitaries from around the world here on the Bloomington campus.

And following a number of international trips by IU senior leaders, David has hosted and led receptions and forums here on the Bloomington campus, to discuss the trips and IU’s engagement in a particular part of the world with those who have an interest in that part of the world and its culture.

David's honors and awards, and there are many that I could mention, do not begin to capture the extensive contributions he has made to Indiana University and to international higher education.

All of us owe him a debt of gratitude for his dedicated and committed leadership, the effects of which will be felt for many years to come. On behalf of the entire university, I extend my congratulations to David and offer Laurie’s and my best wishes to him and to Julie for the next chapter of their lives.

Bestowing the President's Medal

David, would you please join me at the podium?

In recognition of all that you have done for Indiana University during a distinguished career spanning more than 40 years, it is my great pleasure to present you with the highest honor an Indiana University president can bestow: the President’s Medal for Excellence.

The medal is a reproduction in fine silver of the symbolic jewel of office worn by Indiana University’s president at ceremonial occasions. It is given to recognize exceptional distinction in public service, service to Indiana University, achievement in a profession, or extraordinary merit and achievement in the arts, humanities, sciences, education, and industry.

David, you have exceeded these criteria during the course of your distinguished career at Indiana University, and for that let me extend our deepest and most grateful thanks.

So, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the trustees of Indiana University, in gratitude for your extraordinary service, dedication, and leadership over many years, I am privileged and honored to present to you the President’s Medal for Excellence.