2016 Diversity Reception at the 8th Annual IUPUI Regatta

Canal 337
337 W. 11th Street
Indianapolis, Indiana
September 24, 2016

Introduction

Thank you very much Vice President Wimbush.

I am very pleased to be here today with this wonderfully enthusiastic group of students, alumni, faculty, staff, and loyal friends and supporters of IU to celebrate Indiana University’s constantly growing diversity—and to be part of the eighth annual IUPUI Regatta—an event that has very quickly become one of Indiana University’s great traditions.

I am very pleased that we are also joined this afternoon by a member of the Indiana University Board of Trustees. MaryEllen Bishop, vice chair of the trustees, is with us. Would you join me in welcoming Trustee Bishop?

We are also joined today by a number of senior leaders of Indiana University, including vice presidents, chancellors, and diversity officers from a number of IU’s campuses around the state. Please join me in welcoming them.

I also want to welcome Lacy Johnson, an alumnus of IU’s McKinney School of Law, who serves on the IU Foundation Board of Directors. Would you join me in welcoming him?

I am also delighted that a number of elected officials are with us today.

Senator Greg Taylor, an alumnus of IU’s Maurer School of Law, who represents Indiana Senate District 33 in the General Assembly is with us today. Would you join me in welcoming Senator Taylor?

State Representative Cherrish Pryor, who represents District 94 in the Indiana House of Representatives, is also with us today. Representative Pryor is an alumna of the IUPUI campus.

And Representative Robin Shackelford, who represents District 98 in the Indiana House of Representatives is also here. Representative Shackleford is an alumna of IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs on both the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses—and she is here this afternoon with Senior Legislative Assistant Ashley Gurvitz, who is also an IUPUI alumna. Would you join me in welcoming them?

Commitment to Diversity is Fundamental to University’s Success

The enduring success of a great university, especially a great public institution like Indiana University, depends, to a very important degree, on its commitment to embracing diversity in the broadest sense. Tolerance, tolerant diversity, and the free expression of ideas are among Indiana University’s core virtues.

As part of that commitment at Indiana University, we actively recruit students and faculty from diverse cultural backgrounds. We strive to ensure that cultural diversity is well represented in the curriculum. And we seek to continually foster interactional diversity—ensuring that members of our community who come from diverse backgrounds interact with one another in educationally purposeful ways.

We learn from those whose experiences, beliefs, and perspectives are different from our own, and these lessons can be taught best in a richly diverse intellectual and social environment.

Our goal at Indiana University is to foster a climate that does not merely tolerate differences but treasures them; and that we provide rich opportunities for learning from those differences.

Building Diversity at Indiana University

Increasing minority enrollment at IU has been one of our highest priorities, so I was very pleased to report in my 10th annual State of the University Address—which I delivered on the Indianapolis campus last week—that IU's fall enrollment includes a record number of minority students. Nearly 20,000 minority students are enrolled at IU this fall, more than at any other time in the university's history. You heard from Chancellor Paydar a moment ago about the record minority enrollment on the Indianapolis campus. Four other campuses—IU Bloomington, IU East, IU Kokomo, and IU South Bend—also set new records for minority enrollment this fall.

Vice President Wimbush and his staff, and the staff in various campus enrollment and diversity offices, deserve great credit for this most welcome achievement.

Still, the university must continue to do more to attract talented minority students to our campuses. It is imperative that we identify and address the obstacles that stand between many minority students and a college education. This is a complex challenge that can only be met if parents, communities, secondary educators, and institutions such as IU work together.

Some of you may know that Indiana University will celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2020. You may also know that our trustees have approved a very ambitious Bicentennial Strategic Plan, which will guide our efforts in the years leading up to the Bicentennial.

The plan reflects our commitment to build upon our efforts to ensure that an Indiana University education is accessible and affordable for qualified students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, including first-generation college students, veterans, and students from under-represented minorities.

We have taken a number of steps in recent years to help the university achieve these goals.

We have provided record amounts of financial aid to support the recruitment and retention of students from historically under-represented racial and ethnic groups.

We formed a new Indiana University Advisory Council for Diversity, which assists the IU Foundation in raising funds to help attract and retain high performing students representing diverse and underserved populations.

We are also engaged at IU in ongoing efforts—and my wife, Laurie, is heavily involved in these efforts—to increase the number of women and minorities who pursue education in the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These fields are increasingly important to our national security, health, and competitiveness. Programs like the HBCU STEM Initiative, a research partnership between IU and multiple Historically Black Colleges and Universities are helping to rectify the lack of diversity in these fields.

These efforts to foster diversity at Indiana—and many other efforts—are detailed in the annual diversity report of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs—and I commend that excellent report to you.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the initiatives in which we are currently engaged that will ensure that Indiana University is more diverse and inclusive as we enter the university’s third century of service.

We must continue to make every effort to develop Indiana University as a diverse community that will serve as a model for higher education, the state of Indiana, and society at large.

It is an enormous challenge.

But on IU’s campuses—and in the communities in which the campuses are located— there are many people, and many of them are here today, who accept this challenge and who dedicate themselves with passion to making it a reality.

Thank you very much for your commitment to this most important work and for all that you do for Indiana University.