The University Record, March 29, 1999

U hosts first Diplomat in Residence

By Rebecca A. Doyle

Dan Turnquist recently spoke to students in 'Labor Markets and Public Policy around the World.' Photo by Bob Kalmbach
Talking with students about "anything with an international focus" is what Dan Turnquist says is one of the two reasons he is here at the U-M on a two-year program from the U.S. Department of State, the first Diplomat in Residence at the University.

He is one of nine individuals currently assigned to U.S. universities, with counterparts at the University of California, Los Angeles; City University of New York; University of Colorado, Boulder; University of Arizona; Northwestern University; Howard University; and Spelman College.

The other reason for being here is to interest students in foreign service careers and to let everyone in the University community know about the opportunities in that area.

Turnquist, who speaks five languages, has been a guest lecturer in several classes fall and winter term, on such topics as international labor standards, industrial relations, trade unions as a political force and narcotics in other countries.

"This is a wonderful change from what I was doing," he says. Turnquist had some misgivings about moving to Ann Arbor from the varied sites he has been, but was pleasantly surprised by the cultural atmosphere and the academic environment. "I love Ann Arbor," he says.

The Ann Arbor environment is a far cry from some of the assignments he has had over the past 30 years. He has spent time in Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Sweden, France, Germany, England and Belgium. Much of his time was spent on labor and trade issues in those countries, but he also was in Nicaragua during the earthquake, and in Brussels at the end of the Cold War.

One of the most satisfying assignments he has had, he says, was during the re-unification in Germany.

"We were looking at the whole process," he says. "Without the free market, there is no pricing mechanism, and it is impossible to make a rational decision on values." Because the cost of goods had been controlled for so long, Turnquist notes, when the free market concept was put into practice, prices of consumables changed drastically. "That is one reason why East Germany was so much worse than anyone had imagined."

Turnquist is assigned to his U-M post until the summer of 2000, and would be happy to talk to individuals or classes about his experiences and knowledge. Office space has been provided by the School of Public Policy, and he can be reached by e-mail at danturn@umich.edu.