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Obama nominates alum as ambassador to Croatia

By Ashley Laughlin
On February 27, 2012

Miami University alum and ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten was nominated Feb. 10 by United States President Barack Obama to be the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Croatia.

Merten graduated from Miami in 1983 with a degree in diplomacy and foreign affairs. In 2010, Merten was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from Miami.

Miami political science professor Patrick Haney praised Merten for his work.

"It's great for him, to be sure, and reflects on the kind of foundation that he built as an undergraduate diplomacy and foreign affairs major at Miami," Haney said.

According to Haney, this major was constructed specifically with the Foreign Service Exam in mind. Required courses include political science, among other courses. The major is now called diplomacy and global politics.

Junior Emily Champion, a diplomacy and global politics major, reflected on Merten's nomination.

"Having an alum nominated for this position shows how well Miami's Diplomacy and Foreign Politics [major] prepares its students," Champion said. "If an alumnus has been nominated for such a prestigious position, he must have had a good foundation of knowledge to build on his career."

Haney said there is a lot of student interest in working in and around government, both in domestic and in foreign affairs. He noted a strong interest in the Peace Corps and in Congress.

"There is a healthy Miami alum crowd in D.C., to be sure," Haney said. "Programs like our political science, diplomacy and global politics and public administration majors all aim to develop a foundation of liberal education, with an emphasis on the study of politics, government, global affairs and public leadership. With the set of course requirements we try to develop at least awareness of different governmental, historical and cultural contexts and hopefully some expertise in them."

Champion thinks Merten's nomination will bring more attention to Miami and its diplomacy and global politics program.

This will hopefully benefit students when applying to graduate schools and as a noteworthy source when networking for future jobs, according to Champion.

Champion said that although the program is not well known on campus, she feels she is receiving, "a quality education that will help me in my career."

"The real praise, of course, goes to Ambassador Merten, and as a graduate of our department we are very proud of him and his accomplishments," Haney said.

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