Kelley School faculty donate books to update library at Myanmar’s top business school

Yangon University of Economics

Yangon University of Economics

Earlier this fall, Hodge Hall, the hub for undergraduate activities at the Kelley School of Business, was dedicated. But work continues on some interior spaces, including the familiar seven-story tower where faculty offices have been located.

While much has been said about the importance of the Hodge Hall project on Kelley students and the Bloomington campus, one aspect of the effort soon will have an important impact half way around the world.

When Kelley professors were cleaning out their offices in late April and early May, in advance of the renovation, they were asked to not throw out any books that might still be useful, particularly to their peers and students in Myanmar.

“Kelley’s response was enormous and heartening,” recalled Jonathan Crum, a program manager at the Institute for International Business. “Over the next two months, we collected bins of books amounting to nearly 4,000 volumes or roughly four metric tons of books.”

In February, it was announced that the Kelley School was awarded $1 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development for a project supporting Myanmar’s economic transition. This Global Development Alliance project already is extending the teaching and outreach capabilities of the Yangon University of Economics, under a memorandum of understanding with IU. It also is helping micro- to medium-sized business enterprises be more successful.

The program resulted from the first bilateral agreement between the United States and Myanmar (also known as Burma) since 1957.

Today and back in Bloomington, nestled among workstations in a first-floor classroom at the Institute for International Business are more than six dozen boxes containing books donated by Kelley faculty for the Yangon University of Economics.

Kelley School faculty donated nearly 4,000 books to the project.

Kelley School faculty donated nearly 4,000 books to the project.

The Kelley School is waiting for import documents from Myanmar and for a corporate partner to contribute the roughly $5,000 shipping cost for sending the 79 boxes and two tons of books across to the Southeast Asian country.

Kelley faculty members were most generous in responding to the call for books. Only recent textbooks will be sent to the Yangon University of Economics, consisting of hand-selected, best-in-class titles for business and economics used in Kelley’s top-ranked classes.

Most books not selected for shipment were given to the Monroe County chapter of the American Red Cross for its annual book sale. Four boxes of law books were given to Martin University in Indianapolis.

These 1,912 books going to Yangon, have an estimated value of more than $204,000, but more important is their higher, intangible value to the faculty and students studying Western-style business practices. The education institutions of Myanmar were once the light of Southeast Asia, but fell gravely behind during the more than 50 years of restricted outside access.

“I find it to be a great example of recycling versus filling the landfill,” said LaVonn Schlegel, managing director of the Institute for International Business. “The education system in Myanmar is working hard to update itself.  When the country closed its borders in 1957 its higher education system closed to innovation and advancement as well. These books will go a long way in helping their faculty and students update their knowledge of the research, theory and understanding that has occurred in the ensuing decades.”

The Kelley School book donation isn’t the first time something like this has happened at IU. Back in 2011, IU donated a 12,000-volume political science library to India’s O.P. Jindal Global University.

Idalene Kesner, dean of the IU Kelley School of Business, traveled to Myanmar to teach in the program.

Idalene Kesner, dean of the IU Kelley School of Business, traveled to Myanmar to teach in the program.

The USAID project in Myanmar just completed its first year. With support from Hewlett-Packard, Kelley is establishing a dozen HP Learning Initiative For Entrepreneurs centers throughout Burma.

These centers will be equipped with the latest HP technology and classroom solutions providing information technology and business skills training, using the HP LIFE e-Learning program. The free, interactive e-learning solution helps students, entrepreneurs and small business owners use technology effectively to start or grow their businesses in their own time and at their own pace or as part of a classroom setting.

During the partnership, Kelley will assist HP to translate content into Burmese and develop new content modules and materials to support small- to medium-sized enterprises in Myanmar.

Two of these HP LIFE centers are up and running. Another seven will be operating soon and the project is working hard to identify the last three locations. The school hopes to announce a new partner and funding soon.

Kelley will host the school rector and the chair of the MBA program at Yangon University of Economics at IU Bloomington in mid-January.



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