As an academic he leans toward hands-on pursuits that have taken him far from his longtime base at Michigan State University, where he is professor emeritus of urban and regional planning. But at the moment, COVID-19 has forced Roger Hamlin ’67, who is on an extended Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship at a university in Romania, to work at home.
One of his Fulbright responsibilities is as associate dean at Babe-Bolyai University, where he has been honored for his work over the decades. “Basically, I'm working as an administrative capacity to try to internationalize the student body, which is a challenge this year, with coronavirus,” Hamlin says.
The university’s home in Cluj-Napoca, in the mountains of Transylvania, has a reputation for its high-tech approach to growth and development, and Hamlin has been an advisor to its mayor. “Mayor Emil Boc is invited all over Europe to speak about how to create smart cities and that kind of thing, so it's a fascinating place,” Hamlin says. Boc is a former prime minister of Romania, and Hamlin was a formal advisor to him during that period, too.
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Hamlin has worked extensively in Japan and Korea, but found his greatest satisfaction in Romania, starting in the mid 1990s, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union. He forged contacts and relationships among Romanian government leaders during a period when relatively few Westerners were working there. “I feel very good about, over a very long period of time, sticking with them and helping the whole country move toward a stable democracy and economic development,” he says.
His bucket-list project? “I’m doing it,” Hamlin says.