- The groundbreaking, late last month, for the renovation of IU South Bend’s Riverside Hall, which will house clinical spaces, health science programs and an expanded campus Health and Wellness Center. When completed in fall 2017, the renovated Riverside Hall will serve as the hub of IU South Bend’s health sciences programs and classes, while also providing health care for students, faculty, staff and the community. Additionally, it will help us address major risks to individual health and the declining measures of public health in our state. Our itinerary included a tour of South Bend’s Renaissance District, where about 35 IU graduates are employed and where the city’s former Studebaker plant is being transformed into the largest mixed-use technology campus in the Midwest. It also included meetings with several IU South Bend students and the director of the campus’s honors program, as well as a tour of a laboratory at the IU School of Medicine-South Bend where researchers are studying the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness known to cause certain types of birth defects.
At each stop in our statewide tour, we outlined the progress we have made toward achieving the goals of IU’s Bicentennial Strategic Plan, which includes a major focus on student success, catalyzing research and global engagement; research and education aimed at improving the state and nation’s health; and building a prosperous and innovative Indiana.
We demonstrated how we are fulfilling our promise to our state, including providing a first-rate education that remains affordable and accessible to Indiana’s best students and allows them to realize their greatest hopes and aspirations.
We delivered updates on several major IU initiatives that reflect our enhanced commitment to our core missions in education, research and service to our state. They include our $300 million Grand Challenges Program, a bold initiative to focus IU’s vast research enterprise on critical needs facing the people of Indiana and work in close partnership with industry, government and community organizations. They also include our pioneering MoneySmarts program, which is helping our students make informed financial management decisions and decrease overall student debt. As I reported earlier this fall semester, student borrowing at IU has been reduced by nearly $100 million since IU began its multifaceted financial literacy program four years ago. Not surprisingly, institutions across the nation have begun to emulate our MoneySmarts program, which has been called one of the “5 genius ways colleges are tackling the student debt crisis” by Yahoo! Finance and a “Model of Excellence” by University Business Magazine.
Finally, we laid out our vision for our state and the communities we serve. Ours is an Indiana with more jobs with better pay, enhanced educational and cultural opportunities, and a wider range of career opportunities. We also aspire to healthier and happier Hoosiers, who have ready access to the best health care, medical education and research.
Of course, we understand that we cannot accomplish all of this on our own. We know that progress only comes through partnerships with individuals, community organizations and industries. We experience the realities of living in a global economy, and we are prepared to meet the challenges of this changing world through hard work, teamwork and innovation.
Greater engagement and collaboration between IU and our local communities is possible because, in so many ways, we are already united. We share the same vision for the future of our state and its communities.
We share a commitment to excellence in everything we do—from education and research to economic development, the health and life sciences, and the arts. Without question, excellence is the key to a stronger, brighter future for Indiana and all of us who proudly call it home.
To all of our alumni and friends across the state, thank you for your continued support of IU’s mission and work and the contributions you make every day to furthering IU’s enduring legacy of service to our great state.
With thanks as always,
Michael A. McRobbie