Joe Welch joined Robert College in the fall of 1999 as a German teacher, after teaching for 2 years at Tarsus American College. Before coming to Turkey he was a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, teaching German and English as a Second Language. In 2005 the position of Dean of Student Activities was created and Joe was fortunate enough to land the position. As Dean of Student Activities Joe and his team are in charge of an array of areas, including all co-curricular activities, on-campus events, local, national and international trips and the Residential Life Activities Program.
Joe’s higher education background started at the University of Eau Claire w/ a BA in History, German and graduating from the School of Education, certified to teach both subjects from grade 8-12. Upon completion of his undergrad studies, Joe spent a year at a German “Gymnasium” in Flensburg, (West) Germany in 1988-89 as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant and then began his graduate studies at the University of Illinois @Urbana-Champaign. He completed his Masters in German Literature and Linguistics in 1992, after spending 1 year studying at the University of Regensburg on a DAAD scholarship. He then spent a brief time living and working in Germany and Italy, before returning to his undergrad alma mater for 4 years.
Joe just completed his 20th year at RC and during that time he has had the opportunity to initiate and re-energize certain aspects of Robert College and education in Turkey. In 1999 Joe brought Destination Imagination (DI) to Turkey, which he started at Robert College w/ 1 team of 7 students. Today DI boasts over 350 teams in over 50 schools across Turkey. DI is the world’s largest creativity problem solving organization, focusing on creativity, teamwork and Creative Problem Solving. In 2004 Joe created the Residential Life Activities Program (RLA) at Robert College, which was born out the idea to offer residential students at RC a chance to discovery the city of Istanbul via trips to concert, theater performances, sporting events, museums and more. The RLA Program is a vital part of pastoral care of the residential students at RC. One of Joe’s proudest accomplishments is bringing the Robert College Summer Program (RCSummer) back from the brink of collapse in 2003. As Director of the RCSummer, he has increased the enrollment from just over 150 participants to close to 600 per summer and established a program that focuses on exposing participants to as much English as possible through fun and exciting activities. RCSummer employees over 60 young adults from the US, UK and around the world to deliver a program that help develops young people’s English, their character and caring for the environment. Also the financial bottom line has offered much needed income for the RC student scholarship program.
Joe’s pride and joy is his 2 sons, Ben and Henry, who were both raised in Istanbul and are currently studying in the US. But Joe does not quite have an empty nest, as his dog Dots helps keep him occupied via long walks on the RC campus.
Joe’s passion is still in the classroom. He has continued teaching during his tenure as an administrator at RC and cannot imagine not being in the classroom. As he puts it, “I never imagined that I would still be in Robert College after 20 years, but I have, due to the students at Robert College. They are a joy to teach and are always hungry and ready to learn. It truly is a teacher’s paradise.”