Secretary of state delivers address noting SGIS, foreign policy priorities

A crowd of nearly 3,000 filled the IU Auditorium as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made a major foreign policy address in commemoration of the new Indiana University School of Global and International Studies (SGIS). Kerry delivered a wide-ranging speech, made brief remarks during a luncheon, and met with students at the Global and International Studies Building.

Kerry is the first sitting secretary of state to visit IU in 20 years. Warren Christopher delivered an address in March 1995.

The secretary’s address

Kerry congratulated the university for making such an investment in seeing the connection between understanding the world and U.S. success in it.

“It underscores why this conversation today is so important, because you can’t function in today’s world without understanding the connection,” Kerry said. “I have said many times, from the day I was nominated, that foreign policy is economic policy and economic policy is foreign policy.”

“The opening of this school is really in keeping with this university’s very proud tradition of helping to explain the world to America and America to the world,” Kerry added. “We do have to understand each other. And to do that, you have to listen—not just talk, and particularly not shout.”

Kerry also paid tribute to SGIS Distinguished Scholars and Professors of Practice Richard Lugar and Lee Hamilton, former colleagues of Kerry’s when he served in the U.S. Congress. Kerry commended IU for having them as a part of the school, thanking them for “their extraordinary example of a lifetime.” And he added that Founding Dean Lee Feinstein “is exactly the right person to blaze a path for an institution such as your new School for Global and International Studies.”

The secretary touched on U.S. interests and policies in numerous parts of the world. He commented first on developments of the day, condemning new violence in the Middle East and noting that morning’s announcement by President Obama that more than 5,500 American troops would remain in Afghanistan past next year. But he cautioned that dealing with the immediate problems are not enough to effectively conduct foreign policy.

“As we look ahead, we seek not simply to address the immediate crisis of the day,” Kerry said. “Our strategy is to lay the groundwork for solutions that will strengthen the community of nations for decades to come.”

To complete that strategy, the secretary implored his audience, particularly students in SGIS, to help in the cause.

“I invite you to come and join us,” Kerry said. “Join the State Department. Apply to the Foreign Service or the Civil Service. Contact the U.S. Agency for International Development. Enlist in the Peace Corps. Or participate in one of the many partnerships the State Department has forged with diaspora communities, faith-based groups, and students such as yourselves.”

“I ask you a simple question: Would you rather spend the next 40 years complaining about the world or would you like to try to improve it? Your country needs you.”

Comments from the SGIS dean and IU president

Feinstein began the event by noting how responsive the audience was to Kerry’s announced appearance; the tickets required for entry were nearly gone within minutes of their availability. He said that was a tribute to the fittingness of the featured speaker.

“Mr. Secretary, your dedication to public service is a model to the future secretaries of state in the auditorium this morning,” Feinstein said.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie outlined Kerry’s extensive public service in making his introduction, ranging from his war service to later protest of the Vietnam War, his long tenure in the Senate, and his travel of more than 900,000 miles as secretary of state.

“We are honored that you have chosen to speak here, especially given your commitment to international understanding and cooperation, and preserving the promise of democracy for the next generation and for the world, commitments that we wholeheartedly share,” McRobbie said.

Other activities

During the luncheon in the Global and International Studies Building atrium, Secretary Kerry, Senator Lugar, and Congressman Hamilton offered toasts. Afterward, Kerry took questions from a select group of SGIS students who met with him in a discussion on a broad range of topics.

Highlights of Kerry’s address

Watch Sec. Kerry’s full remarks.

Media coverage

State Department coverage

National and international coverage

Global and International Studies Building formally dedicated

President McRobbie presided over dedication ceremonies for the Global and International Studies Building, home to the new School of Global and International Studies, on Oct. 14, 2015. An overflow crowd attended the event in the building’s auditorium space.

Watch the building dedication »

McRobbie said the facility has already become an iconic building on the Bloomington campus, a place where students will “forge global solutions to some of the most pressing issues the world faces.”

“Global studies is in the DNA of Indiana University, dating back to 1836, when the first international faculty member, Richard Harding from Ireland, came to Bloomington,” Founding Dean Feinstein said. He also noted how the structure of the building itself—featuring the “Stones of the World” wall, containing stones from 10 countries—is itself a nod to IU’s international tradition.

“The wall of stones connects our state’s limestone tradition to the world,” he said. “It is a monument also to the Indiana way: the pragmatic heartland conviction that the United States is more secure and more prosperous, and the world is a better place, with American leadership and engagement.”

Along with the Indiana University Board of Trustees, among the dignitaries attending the ceremony were former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, both distinguished scholars and professors of practice at SGIS.

IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel reflected the idea that the new Global and International Studies Building’s location in the center of campus is significant to IU Bloomington’s mission. “Global awareness is an integral part of life on this campus,” she said.

Larry Singell, executive dean of the IU College of Arts and Sciences, said the mission is served by the practicality of the building. “It is a thoughtfully made space,” he said.

The 165,000-square-foot Global and International Studies Building provides instruction and collaboration space for more than 20 academic programs in eight departments. The building will foster greater interdisciplinary collaboration between academic units that previously were spread across the IU Bloomington campus.


Susan T. Rodriguez of Ennead Architects of New York designed the building, in association with Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf. Ennead (formerly Polshek Partnership) is the firm that designed the Newseum in Washington, D.C., and the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark. Rodriguez said the building was created to connect people to their place in the world and each other.

Building funding

The building was funded entirely through university sources, with half of the funding coming from IU’s Big Ten Network revenues, representing the largest-ever commitment from IU Athletics revenue to support the core academic mission of the university. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney and IU Athletics Director Fred Glass attended the ceremony.