December 2016

Anantha Shekhar delivers his remarks after learning his team had won the first Grand Challenges competition.

At the same time IU faculty set new records with external funding support for their research, IU, as part of its Bicentennial Strategic Plan, has massively expanded its commitment to direct support of IU researchers. Through our Grand Challenges Research Program, we will invest, in the years leading up to IU’s Bicentennial, $300 million in three to five major multi-investigator, multidisciplinary research projects aimed at finding solutions to the “grand challenges” of our time, solutions that will provide major improvements in the quality of life for the citizens of the state of Indiana.

All of us are excited by the work already being performed by the recipient of the first round of funding, the Precision Health Initiative. Under the leadership of principal investigator Anantha Shekhar, an associate dean and professor at the IU School of Medicine, the Precision Health Initiative has set lofty but very clear goals of curing at least one cancer and one childhood disease, as well as finding ways to prevent one chronic illness and one neurodegenerative disease.

Raising IU’s and Indiana’s reputation

This fall, IU students and faculty earned several major honors and distinctions, which, in turn, have added mightily to IU’s and our state’s continually growing reputation as a leader among the nation’s centers of education, research and innovation in the 21st century.

In October, Bernice A. Pescosolido, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at IU Bloomington and a leading expert on the stigma associated with mental illness, was elected a member of the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine. She is the 11th IU faculty member and the second from the IU Bloomington campus to be selected for membership in the prestigious organization. Richard D. DiMarchi, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at IU Bloomington, was elected in 2015.

In November, two IU faculty members, Volker P. Brendel, a professor in the Department of Biology at IU Bloomington and the IU School of Informatics and Computing, and Kenneth P. Mackie, a professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, were named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a distinction that recognizes outstanding contributions to the progress of science and research. Their election brought the number of AAAS fellows affiliated with IU to 94.

Morgan Mohr, IU Bloomington senior and 2017 Rhodes Scholar

Also in November, it was announced that former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, a Distinguished Scholar and professor of practice in the IU School of Global and International Studies and one of our nation’s finest and most respected statesmen, had received the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding. The major honor recognizes those who have brought about significant lifetime achievements in international understanding, peace and security.

And finally, Morgan Mohr, a senior at IU Bloomington studying political science, history and feminist policy, was recently named a 2017 Rhodes Scholar. Morgan, the valedictorian of the Class of 2013 at Kokomo High School in Indiana, is one of 32 U.S. college students, and the only student from a Big Ten university, to receive the prestigious academic award.

Your energy and support

All of the activities and initiatives I previously described, which have involved thousands of faculty and staff, have had a major effect on strengthening our state’s economic competitiveness, offering a wide range of learners access to the best educational opportunities and improving the health and quality of life of all Hoosiers.

But they would not be possible without the ideas, energy and dedication of IU’s ever-growing and never-daunted network of alumni and friends who share a common vision for excellent education that is responsive and relevant for Hoosier students throughout the state, new inventions and investment, breakthrough medical discoveries and new high-wage jobs for Hoosiers.

With your continued support, we will continue to realize that vision, uncover new opportunities for statewide collaboration and make Indiana a better place for all who call it home.

I look forward to expressing my appreciation to many of you in person during my continued travels around our state, and to congratulating, later this week, our soon-to-be-newest IU alumni at IU Bloomington’s annual winter commencement ceremony, which will include an address by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Linda Greenhouse.

And to all, my very best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season.

With thanks as always,

Michael A. McRobbie


Indiana University