Another highlight of the year was the incoming freshman class, which was among the most academically accomplished in the university’s history. A number of our campuses recorded large gains in average SAT scores for the incoming class as well as sharp increases in the number of Indiana 21st Century scholars. At IU Bloomington, which enrolled its largest freshman class ever, more than one-third of our new students finished in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class.
Once on campus, our students continue to excel in the classroom, as well. A full list of honors received by IU students in the past year would fill multiple computer screens, but our students were, once again, among recipients of some of the most prestigious undergraduate and graduate scholarships and fellowships.
Among the extremely competitive awards given to IU students were four Goldwater scholarships for undergraduate study, a Truman scholarship for undergraduate and graduate school work, and a Mitchell scholarship, which funds two years of graduate study in Ireland. In addition, several IU students received awards from the National Science Foundation to attend graduate school.
The affordability of an IU education remains an essential priority of the university. But despite a large increase in institutional aid over the past several years, which has kept average net cost of attendance at all IU campuses competitive—indeed, IU Bloomington has the lowest average net cost of attendance in the Big Ten—we understand that for many students, taking on debt is the only feasible way to earn a college degree.
With that in mind, the university has launched a series of initiatives, such as the MoneySmarts program, over the past two years designed to help students better understand their finances and the implications of taking on student debt. These efforts have paid immediate dividends in the form of sharply lower rates of borrowing. In fact, both the number of students borrowing and the total amount borrowed fell by 11 percent in the most recent academic year—far greater than the national average.
The innovative and effective nature of these initiatives has received considerable national attention, and we have been informed that IU is to receive a major award from the prestigious American College Personnel Association for MoneySmarts. Many of these initiatives were developed by the office of IU Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer MaryFrances McCourt, who just a few weeks ago was named 2014 CFO of the Year among nonprofit organizations by the Indianapolis Business Journal, reflecting again the emphasis that IU puts on administrative excellence.
Award-winning scholars and researchers
A university is only as strong as the faculty members who educate students and perform valuable research, and our IU faculty had an outstanding year by almost any measure. IU faculty members accounted for $535 million in research expenditures in the most recent fiscal year, playing a critical role in sustaining IU’s position as an engine for intellectual and economic development in the state of Indiana.
And our faculty continues to earn individual recognition, too. Richard DiMarchi, distinguished professor of chemistry at IU Bloomington and one of the university’s most prolific researchers, was named to the National Inventors Hall of Fame and a National Inventors Fellow this year. In addition, three IU faculty members were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences last month, bringing the number of AAAS fellows associated with IU to 89. Those elected were:
- Edward J. Berbari, Chancellor’s Professor and chair of the biomedical engineering department at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
- P. Sarita Soni, professor emerita in the School of Optometry at Indiana University Bloomington.
- Thomas Sterling, professor of computer science in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University Bloomington.
Researchers across many fields at IU are collaborating in an increasingly interdisciplinary fashion to push the boundaries of discovery in the sciences, humanities and arts. For example, IU established the Network Science Institute this fall—one of the nation’s first interdisciplinary centers in this new and dynamic field—while October's opening of the IU Neuroscience Research Building in Indianapolis, in tandem with the adjacent IU Health Neuroscience Center clinical facility, creates one of the largest concentration of neuroscience researchers and practitioners in the country.
A year of change and progress on IU regional campuses
IU’s regional campus, which educate nearly 40,000 students each year, continue to play a vital role in increasing educational attainment levels in Indiana, as well as serving as important community partners in their home regions. Many are adding new academic programs designed to meet the economic needs of their regions, and the state and university continue to invest in new facilities, such as the Louise E. Addicott and Yatish J. Joshi Performance Hall, which opened this year at IU South Bend, and the new Student Events and Activities Center at IU East, for which ground was broken just last month.