School of Global and International Studies excited about its first class of graduates

Ireland's president and IU alumnus Michael D. Higgins will speak at this year's commencement.

Ireland’s president and IU alumnus Michael D. Higgins will speak at this year’s commencement.

We knew that this spring’s commencement at Indiana University Bloomington already had an international flair with the participation of Ireland’s president, Michael D. Higgins, as one of the speakers.

Higgins, who received a Master of Arts degree in 1967, will address students at both undergraduate ceremonies Saturday and will receive an honorary doctorate.

The 8,241 new IU Bloomington graduates represent 89 of Indiana’s 92 counties. But they also will include students from 75 countries.

The Bloomington campus ranks fifth nationally in the number of students studying abroad. Many of them want to put their IU degrees to work at American organizations and firms with an increasing worldview.

But this year, a new group of students will join the thousands of newly minted IU graduates: the first class of degree recipients from the IU School of Global and International Studies.

For many years, IU has prepared thousands of people for global careers in public service, diplomacy, commerce, the arts and humanities. But this year, nearly 175 SGIS graduates will walk in the commencement procession at Assembly Hall with peers in the College of Arts and Sciences.

They will include about 120 who have earned the school’s first Bachelor of Arts degrees, including more than 25 who were double majors. Many others took advantage of certificate programs or loaded up on minors.

On Friday, about 45 Master of Arts recipients and seven doctorates from SGIS will participate in the graduate ceremony, where former U.S. Treasury Secretary and IU alumnus Paul O’Neill will speak.

The class includes the first graduates of the Swahili Language Flagship Program, following a capstone year studying in Zanzibar, Tanzania, the birthplace of Swahili language and culture. Some SGIS graduates will again go abroad, including as part of the Peace Corps.


Graduating students in IU’s Swahili Language Flagship Program recently returned from Tanzania.

“Taking part in the ceremony that celebrates the 2014 inaugural class of SGIS graduates is one of the proudest moments of my 18 years of service at Indiana University,” said Maria Bucur-Deckard, associate dean for international programs at the school and the John W. Hill Professor of European history. “It has been an exciting two years of growth, and I can’t wait to see what our alumni will achieve in the years to come.”

It only seems like yesterday, in August of 2012, when IU trustees approved the new school. A year ago, Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Dan Coats helped to helped to inaugurate SGIS.

This fall, ambassador Lee A. Feinstein — whose experience includes more than two decades serving in high-level positions in diplomacy and foreign affairs — as dean will begin to build on the foundation laid by these initial graduates.

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