Auburn Diplomatic Program provides international experience on campus

Published: March 04, 2015
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Auburn University is becoming one of Alabama's most popular destinations for visiting dignitaries from foreign governments through the university's Diplomatic Program. These international representatives provide students with global experience without studying abroad.

"International experiences are becoming a necessity for college graduates to succeed in an expanding global, cultural and economic environment that is already far beyond what previous generations encountered," said Jay Gogue, president of Auburn University.

Guests include consul generals, ambassadors, honorary consul generals, trade commissioners and executives from international firms. While on campus they give a lecture on international affairs and the culture of the country they represent.

"The dignitaries have heard of the university's reputation and always look forward to coming," said Anna Gramberg, Auburn University senior counsel to the president and coordinator of the Diplomatic Program. "Many dignitaries have visited Auburn more than once over the years."

Gogue created the program in 2009 and appointed Bob McGinnis, former vice president for development, to lead it. Gramberg took over the program in 2014 when McGinnis retired. Auburn has hosted diplomats from 15 countries this year, including Germany, Italy, Israel, Canada, Denmark, Ireland and Haiti.

Gramberg is coordinating the international efforts with the class, "Global Fluency and Awareness," which is open to students of all majors. Students attend the guest lectures and have the opportunity to speak individually with the dignitaries.

The Auburn University Diplomatic Program partners with other programs on campus, such as the Honors College, Auburn Abroad and the Graduate School. The program also gives faculty and staff the opportunity to collaborate with dignitaries on internship programs, study abroad opportunities and memorandums of understanding. local high school students are also attending the events.

Gramberg says the program works as a two-way outreach initiative, introducing students to new cultures and the expansion of Auburn's reputation.

"It exposes students to diverse cultures and provides them with knowledge of international business dealings," she said. "Dignitaries are able to further promote the university's reputation worldwide."

Auburn research is extended as well by connecting faculty with the dignitaries to discuss global research issues and areas in which their home country has a need. Many dignitaries express an interest in fisheries and agriculture.

Tours of Auburn's research facilities, as well as campus and the recreation center offer dignitaries a glimpse of Auburn.

"Diplomats leave with a good impression of Auburn's facilities, students and great leaders. In return, they spread the word about the university around the world," Gramberg said.

More information about the Auburn University Diplomatic Program is available by contacting Gramberg at gramban@auburn.edu.

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