Most people associate the state of Indiana with breaded tenderloins, hospitality, and basketball. But, if you ask Dr. Violeta Vidacek-Hains, the state and Terre Haute remind her of her native Croatia.
“It feels like home. It’s a small, friendly environment,” she said.
Vidacek-Hains is a professor at the University of Zagreb (UNIZG) in Croatia in the Faculty of Organization and Informatics within the city of Varazdin. Her background is in Psychology, Human Resource Management, and Cross-Cultural Communication. Through a bilateral agreement with the University of Zagreband Indiana State University, she has served as a visiting scholar this summer within the Scott College of Business (SCOB) teaching an undergraduate-level course on business report writing.
“It’s a new experience. Students here at ISU are very nice and supportive. This collaboration is on our University’s priority list,” Vidacek-Hains stated.
The partnership between ISU and UNIZG started in 2013. Still, it took off last year after Provost of Academic Affairs, Dr. Christopher Olsen and Dr. Chris McGrew, the Director for the Center of Global Engagement, visited Croatia in October. Vidacek-Hains then met with Dr. Aruna Chandrasekaran, professor and Chair of management, the following summer to solidify a clearer vision for both colleges.
“Thank you to Provost Olsen, Dr. McGrew, Dr. Chandrasekaran, Dr. Terry Daugherty (Dean of the Scott College of Business), Full Prof. Nina Begičević Ređep (University of Zagreb), and Associate Dean Dr. Igor Balaban (Zagreb).”
The University’s agreement has two focus points. One is a faculty exchange, where professors from each university visit and collaborate involving their teaching and research. Part two is a student exchange.
In 2024, both universities are working on study-abroad opportunities. Indiana State University business students will travel to UNIZG in May to learn about entrepreneurship within Croatia. Vidacek-Hains said students will begin online by working with her Croatian students before going abroad. Once there, the students will spend most of their time outside the classroom engaging with companies and experiencing the culture.
“We want to see the student’s reflections and emotions about the intercultural relationship. For many, this may be their first time on a plane, their first time across the ocean, etc. We want to make them feel at home,” she explained.
Additionally, students from UNIZG will also be able to study at Indiana State with the first group set to visit the SCOB next summer.
“This is incredibly important for students and faculty. For me, teaching and conducting research at my home university is wonderful, but being able to go to another university because of this partnership is remarkable. It’s life-changing. We want students to have the same experience,” said Vidacek-Hains.
When not in the classroom, the Croatian professor has been enjoying all that Terre Haute has to offer. She’s walked the nature parks, participated in community events, and eaten at many local restaurants.