Joe Welch joined Robert College in the fall of 1999 as a German teacher, after teaching for two years at Tarsus American College. Before coming to Turkey he was a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, teaching German as well as English as a second language. In 2005 Mr. Welch was appointed to the newly created position of Dean of Student Activities. As Dean of Student Activities, he 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.
Mr. Welch’s higher education background started at the University of Eau Claire with a BA in History and German, and graduating from the School of Education, he is certified to teach both subjects for grades 8-12. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies, Joe spent a year at a German “Gymnasium” in Flensburg, Germany in 1988-89 as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant and then began his graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He completed his master’s in German literature and linguistics in 1992, after spending one 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 undergraduate alma mater for four years.
Mr. Welch 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 he brought Destination Imagination (DI) to Turkey, which he started at Robert College with one team of seven students. DI is the world’s largest creativity problem solving organization, focusing on innovation, teamwork and leadership. Today DI boasts over 350 teams in over 50 schools across Turkey. In 2004 he 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 concerts, 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 Mr. Welch’s proudest accomplishments is expanding and enriching the Robert College Summer Program (RCSummer). As Director of RCSummer since 2003, he has increased 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 employs over 60 young adults from the US, UK and around the world to deliver a program that helps develop young people’s English, their character and care for the environment. Proceeds from the RCSummer and RCS Academy programs support the RC Scholarship Fund.
Mr. Welch’s pride and joy are his two sons, Ben and Henry, who were both raised in Istanbul and are currently studying in the US. But he does not quite have an empty nest, as his dog Dots helps keep him occupied via long walks on the RC campus.
Mr. Welch’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.
“I never imagined that I would still be at Robert College after 20 years, but I have, due to the students. They are a joy to teach and are always hungry and ready to learn. It truly is a teacher’s paradise.”