The Indian Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Nirupama Rao, made her rounds to select colleges and universities as part of her inaugural trip to the U.S. since taking office as Ambassador in September 2011. On February 27, Ambassador Rao visited the College of Charleston where she met with P. George Benson, president of the College of Charleston, Alan T. Shao, dean of the School of Business, and other campus leaders.

Ambassador Rao’s visit to the College was hosted by the School of Business and the School of Languages, Cultures and World Affairs.  Her campus itinerary began with a private meeting with President Benson and Dean Shao to discuss specialized academic areas including hospitality and tourism management, international business and overseas partnerships.

With global awareness and learning as one of Dean Shao’s top priorities, the meeting with Ambassador Rao opened another possible door to international partnerships and collaborations with universities in India.

The Ambassador had requested an informal event with both faculty and students, allowing her to experience the day-to-day atmosphere of the College.

Following her meeting with President Benson and Dean Shao, Ambassador Rao sat down to lunch with David Cohen, Dean of the School of Languages, Cultures and World Affairs,  Rene Mueller, director of the undergraduate international business program and the Global Business Resource Center,  Steve Litvin and Brumby McLeod, professors of hospitality and tourism management, Leena Karambelkar, professor of Hindi in the School of Languages, Cultures and World Affairs,  Malte Pehl, assistant professor of international and intercultural studies, and Mary Beth Heston, director of the Asian Studies program.  In addition, six international business students were invited to the luncheon to share their experiences.

“We discussed the exchange of students and faculty and the possibility of developing joint programs,” says Mueller. “The Ambassador was particularly interested in international trade, port administration and hospitality and tourism.”

The ambassador also conversed with Litvin of the hospitality and tourism management department about India’s flourishing tourism industry, and expressed her desire for potential student exchanges and other hospitality-related collaborations between the School of Business’ reputable HTMT program and Indian universities.