Dear Friend of Indiana University:

As a public institution, IU is deeply committed to fulfilling its obligation to the people of Indiana to provide a first-rate education that is affordable, accessible, innovative and relevant; and serving as one of the most powerful forces for economic development in our state.

We are also determined to make the best possible case to the state's political leaders that the university is deserving of continued strong financial support that has enabled us to meet our fundamental missions of education and engagement in Indiana's future.

As many of you know, the so-called "long session" of the Indiana General Assembly is underway. During this time, our legislative body will determine state appropriations for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, including funding for IU and other public universities across Indiana.

IU has been preparing for the biennial budget process, which involves a multitude of talented and hardworking individuals from all across the university, for many months. IU submitted information to the state highlighting its performance on Indiana's key funding measures almost a year ago, and we delivered our initial request for capital projects funding late last summer. I have made multiple presentations myself before various committees of both houses of the Indiana General Assembly.

Indeed, this is a long, challenging and complex process, which is expected to continue through most of April. Fortunately, IU is represented at the Statehouse by an extremely talented state government relations team that works closely with Indiana's government leaders, many of whom know and appreciate the value the state's flagship university provides to Hoosiers from their own time at IU.

In recent years, the state has provided strong support for higher education. In the last budget session, the seven IU-administered campuses received combined increases in operating funds of more than 2.5 percent for this fiscal year and 2.8 percent for last fiscal year.

These increases reflected strong performance across all of our campuses to address the thoughtfully calibrated goals IU and the state's Commission for Higher Education share in meeting crucial higher education needs in Indiana. They also allowed IU to continue to deliver an affordable, world-class education that offers students the knowledge, skills, advice and training they need to thrive in today's ultra-competitive, 21st-century marketplace.

IU's state appropriations will be determined by our achievements on the performance metrics established by the state. Those metrics are designed to address the issue of degree attainment, the number of students graduating with high-impact degrees (such as those in STEM fields), student persistence (students returning to college after their first semester and first year), on-time degree completion and at-risk student completion (students in danger of academic failure).

Everyone associated with our university can be proud of the fact that on virtually all of these measures, IU has exhibited the strongest performance in the state.

We are producing more four-year and graduate degrees than any other institution in Indiana. With our strong enrollment numbers (IU began the current academic year with more than 114,000 students), we will continue to be—by far—the largest producer of Hoosier graduates annually in Indiana for the foreseeable future.

Under the state’s performance funding formula, when considering all four-year institutions, IU produced nearly 50 percent of the bachelor degrees under the degree production metric, almost 64 percent of the degrees under the at-risk student degree metric and nearly 80 percent of the bachelor degrees under the high-impact degree metric.

Still, we recognize that more work needs to be done. State leaders—from our new governor to the legislature to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education—have made it clear that we must all continue to work together toward ensuring an affordable and clear path to college completion; producing more Hoosier graduates; helping to build a workforce that meets Indiana's development economic needs; strengthening our state's culture of innovation and entrepreneurship; and encouraging lifelong learning.

Furthermore, while there is reason for cautious optimism in this legislative session, we still have a responsibility to prepare our budget for the next two years in a manner that assumes conservative funding growth—both in terms of state funding and from tuition.

In recent years, we have become more efficient in our operations, and that work is ongoing. At the same time, we intend to present a tuition recommendation to IU trustees this spring that recognizes the financial challenges facing many of our students and their families today.

Providing pathways to student success

We have taken a proactive and strategic approach to ensuring that our students graduate on time, with as little debt as possible.

In my last President’s Update, I shared the methods we have used to keep IU’s tuition levels at historically low levels—including freezing tuition for the last two years for students at IU Bloomington—while at the same time pioneering path-breaking student financial literacy programs that are now national models and have resulted in savings to students of nearly $100 million over the last four years. This recent article, which prominently features IU’s MoneySmarts program, ran in GoodCall, a popular online educational news site that helps students and their families make smart financial decisions for college and careers.

As encouraged by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, IU began implementing banded, or flat-rate, tuition in the fall at all of its campuses. All undergraduate students now pay one rate for basic tuition when taking 12 to 18 credit hours.

Banded tuition—which has been in effect on the IU Bloomington campus for more than two decades—makes the cost of attending IU more predictable and easier to understand, while helping students and their families plan better financially. It also gives students a clearer and quicker path to graduation. It allows them to take more credit hours each semester and not be charged an additional amount; explore an area of academic interest without having to worry about additional costs from enrolling in a course; and, ultimately, move into the job market sooner, possibly earning a year or two of additional income over the span of their careers.

Of course, we recognize that even the smartest planners and self-motivators frequently need support and guidance. That is why we have continued to strengthen our academic and career advising. Currently, all of our campuses now employ pervasive academic advising of students, supported by the IU Graduation Progress System, including degree mapping, early alerts, degree audits and analytics. All of this is helping to increase graduation rates and reduce the time to degree completion.

Building a better future

Another key to ensuring our students' success is placing them in the best possible environment in which to learn and grow.

In addition to the operating funding that will be determined by IU’s achievements on the performance metrics created by the state, IU has requested additional capital funding during this year's budget session, with the goal of improving the facilities and physical infrastructure we need to meet the evolving needs of our students.

Our capital priorities continue to be centered on major renovation of existing legacy buildings on all campuses. Through renovation, we are able to modernize existing buildings for today’s use, improve their energy efficiency and extend their useful lives for future generations of students and faculty, all at significantly less cost that constructing a new facility. We also intend to expand research and laboratory facilities as needed, as our world-class community of scholars continues to secure increased levels of research funding.

As always, IU’s top capital priority is Repair and Rehabilitation funds provided by the state’s excellent formula. To this end, we have requested $52.5 million for the next biennium for all of IU’s campuses.

At IU, we view Repair and Rehabilitation as a partnership between the state and the university, and together we are making great progress in reducing IU’s deferred maintenance—from approximately $1 billion in 2010 to less than $450 million in FY 2017.

Consistent with our long-term priorities, nearly all of our requests for capital funding involve revitalizing existing IU facilities. These projects include:

  • The continued renovation of large academic facilities in the historic heart of the IU Bloomington campus known as the Old Crescent. The third phase of this project, which was recommended by the Commission for Higher Education as IU's top priority, will focus on structural improvements and upgrades to classroom facilities in Ballantine Hall and the Geological Sciences Building.
  • Renovations to the Health Sciences Building on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus. One of the former Wishard Memorial Hospital facilities, the building will be used for the Fairbanks School of Public Health and the IU School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, putting them in close proximity to the renowned Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
  • A deferred maintenance request that would enable IU to finance critically needed major renovations to existing buildings on all of IU’s regional campuses.

Extraordinary support

Late last year, we were delighted to announce one of the largest gifts ever to the IU School of Medicine, which will enable IU researchers to engage the power of the immune system in the quest to cure cancer and other diseases.

This tremendous gift of $30 million from Indianapolis entrepreneur Donald E. Brown, M.D., the largest ever to the school from an alumnus, will help establish the Brown Center for Immunotherapy, which will work to discover new ways to deploy innovative, immune-based therapies to treat cancers and pioneer use of this powerful technology in other diseases. In doing so, it will also further Indiana's standing as a powerful engine for biomedical discovery and innovation.

In January, the IU Kelley School of Business received a $1.25 million gift from retired Kelley professor C. Randall "Randy" Powell, who led the school's career services office for more than three decades, helping tens of thousands of undergraduate and graduate students begin their professional careers.

The generous gift from Powell and his wife, Kathy, will support the new Conrad Prebys Career Services Center, which is funded in part by a $20 million gift that the late IU alumnus and South Bend, Ind., native Conrad Prebys gave to IU in 2015. The center, scheduled to be completed this fall, will ultimately meet important career development and job placement needs for an increasing number of Kelley students and other students at IU Bloomington. Each of these gifts counts toward For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign, which has set a goal of $2.5 billion to be raised by 2020 and involves a university match for gifts to establish new endowed professorial positions and undergraduate and graduate scholarships.

This level of extraordinary support speaks volumes about the value of higher education, the promise of future generations and the strength of IU, which, for nearly 200 years, has readily accepted new opportunities to serve the people of our state and the nation by responding to society’s changing needs.

Of course, none of the success we have achieved would be possible without the hard work and dedication of our talented faculty and staff, and the steadfast support of our alumni and friends around Indiana, the nation and the world.

Your continued support of IU and our mission, your desire to keep our university moving forward and your determination to build a better future for IU and Indiana are deeply appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

Michael A. McRobbie
President
Indiana University