IU joins U.S. delegation traveling to Cuba to promote understanding, explore potential partnerships

  • Oct. 21, 2015


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Gerardo Gonzalez, dean emeritus of the Indiana University School of Education, will join an Institute of International Education delegation of U.S. higher education leaders traveling to Cuba Oct. 24 to 31.

The purpose of the trip will be to learn more about the current state of higher education in the country and explore potential partnership opportunities. The visit is part of the Institute of International Education’s broader initiative to reinvigorate higher education engagement between the United States and Cuba, in light of the opening of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

In recent months, as the two countries have worked toward normalizing relations, Gonzalez frequently has appeared in national and international news outlets to discuss his perspective on the changing policy. Joining him from IU on the trip will be Shawn Conner, associate director of international partnerships in the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs.

The delegation’s itinerary includes visits with officials at a half dozen universities, meetings with governmental officials and events at ambassador residences for the United States and the European Union.

Participating universities will look to build connections to advance academic exchange and joint research focused on advancing understanding of one another’s culture and addressing issues of mutual interest.  

"The thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations provides an unprecedented opportunity to promote understanding and collaboration between academic institutions in both countries," Gonzalez said. "IU has a long history of partnering with universities throughout the world to expand educational and research opportunities. 

"We are fortunate to have been selected as one of 12 universities nationwide to participate in the IIE Cuban Initiative," Gonzalez added. "I am looking forward to the visit."

Gonzalez is a special advisor to IU’s university-wide Cuba initiative, which is being led by the Office of Vice President for International Affairs and the IU Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

His family immigrated to the United States from Cuba when he was 11 years old. He has spoken frequently to national and international groups and written on the Cuban-American experience and Hispanic education concerns. In 2012, Hispanic Business named him one of the 50 most influential Hispanics in the United States.

IU does have a history of activities in Cuba. The university has maintained a partnership with the University Central Marta Abreu of Las Villas (in Bloomington’s sister city of Santa Clara, Cuba) since 2004. Gonzalez and Conner expect to meet with its administrators.

In recent years, more than 1,500 American students have studied in Cuba despite travel restrictions that have been in place. Among them have been students from IU Bloomington and its School of Public and Environmental Affairs; the departments of geography at IU Bloomington and IUPUI; and IU Southeast. There also have been several IU Alumni Association trips, including one this spring.

Allan E. Goodman, president and CEO of the Institute of International Education, will lead the delegation, which will include members of the International Academic Partnership Program Advisory Board and 30 representatives from the participating universities. Other universities taking part include Rutgers University, the University of Arizona, State University of New York-New Paltz and Oberlin College.

Few students from Cuba have been able to come to the United States, but among them is Anabel Gutierrez Orraca, one of 16 students working under the instruction of Susann McDonald, distinguished professor of music in the harp department at the IU Jacobs School of Music.

The trip follows several Institute of International Education Cuban higher education initiative activities, such as a series of binational conference calls and briefing papers, that seek to increase U.S.-Cuba academic engagement

Since the inception of the International Academic Partnership Program in 2009, the Institute of International Education’s Center for International Partnerships has worked with over 100 U.S. colleges and universities to foster sustainable linkages with Brazil, China, India and Myanmar. As a result of the program, previous participating institutions have developed partnerships with counterparts in their particular focus country, engaging in collaborative activities such as faculty exchange, student exchange, study abroad programs, joint research and joint conferences.

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Gerardo Gonzalez

Gerardo Gonzalez

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These IU Southeast students traveled to Cuba as part of an immersive summer learning experience in 2012.

These IU Southeast students traveled to Cuba as part of an immersive summer learning experience in 2012.

Print-Quality Photo

Media Contacts

George Vlahakis

Lynn Schoch

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