Celebrating progress and building for IU’s future

Dear Friend of Indiana University:

As we head into the final days of the fall semester, there is much to be grateful for and to celebrate. Remarkable changes continue to be made, and major new initiatives have been announced or brought to highly successful conclusions. All of these collectively contribute to the continued pursuit of excellence in our core missions of teaching, research and engagement in the communities that IU proudly serves.

As we prepare for the Indiana University Bicentennial in the 2019-20 academic year, these changes will continue to:

  • Keep an IU education affordable and accessible to all students.
  • Strengthen our rich traditions in academics, the arts and athletics.
  • Dramatically transform our campus landscapes to meet the ever-evolving needs of our students and state.
  • Bring to bear IU's vast expertise and resources to address the most critical challenges facing our society.
  • Provide the new and renovated facilities essential to IU’s continuing success.

Supporting Hoosier health, deploying IU resources to address Indiana's opioid addictions crisis

In October, we were very pleased to announce the third of IU's Grand Challenges initiatives, Responding to the Addictions Crisis, which will immediately start to address the pervasive and grave opioid addictions crisis that is affecting our state and communities around the U.S. This initiative, which will have a budget of $50 million over five years, will be the nation’s largest and most comprehensive state-based response to the opioid addiction crisis led by a university.

As Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and I recently wrote in an editorial published by Fox News, our home state has been particularly hard hit by the opioid addictions crisis (we are one of four states where the fatal drug overdose rate has quadrupled since 1999). It is urgent that the state’s major institutions formulate a united response to an epidemic that is affecting our friends, colleagues and neighbors of all backgrounds and without discrimination.

To this end, IU's efforts to respond to the addiction crisis are aligned with state and federal government efforts, and they include collaboration with the Indiana congressional delegation, local communities, industry, NGOs, patient groups and many others. We greatly appreciate our partnership with Gov. Holcomb, the state, IU Health, Eskenazi Health and others to help address this devastating public health crisis.

Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks during the announcement of IU's third Grand Challenges initiative, Responding to the Addictions Crisis.

IU's strengths and capabilities in the health sciences will be expanded soon through the formation of a new school in this area. Last week, IU trustees approved a merger between two schools at IUPUI to establish a new School of Health and Human Sciences that will strengthen our ability to advance the health and well-being of Hoosiers across the state and beyond. By merging two of IUPUI’s oldest schools, the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management and School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, we will ensure greater alignment among our excellent programs in, among other areas, kinesiology, health sciences, nutrition and dietetics, occupational therapy, physician assistant studies, and physical therapy. This will, in turn, result in exciting new opportunities for our students who will serve as the next generation of health and wellness professionals. It will also further enhance our engagement in important community relations programs and initiatives that have been a hallmark of the two schools that will merge into the new school.

Bicentennial Strategic Plan progress; pathways to student success

Last week, we also delivered an update to IU trustees on the progress of our Bicentennial Strategic Plan, which is now at its midway point. Much has been accomplished, including the Grand Challenges program, our nationally recognized debt reduction programs, improved program rankings, the introduction of engineering and architecture degrees on the Bloomington campus, and the use of innovative teaching methods and online education across all of IU's campuses to bring expanded opportunities to our students. (View the full midpoint progress report.)

All of this progress reflects IU’s commitment to the success of our students and serving the needs of our state, nation and world in immediate, innovative and often path-breaking ways.

As I shared last month in an op-ed for the Indianapolis Business Journal, we are paving the way in our state by providing a high-quality online education. IU Online is authentically Indiana University in that all courses, materials and degree programs are created and taught only by IU’s exceptional faculty. IU Online will help more Hoosiers earn degrees, and these will, in turn, open up new career possibilities -- a top priority of the state.

This fall, we saw a record of more than 5,000 IU students enrolled in online degrees and courses, and currently, nearly a third of our total student body -- or a remarkable 29,000 students -- are enrolled in at least one online course.

Strong international engagement

Our model IU Online program is just one of the many ways IU reaches beyond its campus boundaries.

Recently, it was again confirmed that IU has the most internationally engaged student body in the state with a record of nearly 4,000 students who studied abroad in the 2015 academic year, the most recent year for which figures are available. According to the newly released Open Doors 2017 Report on International Educational Exchange, prepared by the Institute for International Education, IU Bloomington now ranks seventh among about 1,200 U.S. universities for the number of its students who study abroad, setting yet another new record, while IUPUI set a campus record for the number of its students studying abroad. Study abroad programs are essential to providing our students with the experience and cultural understanding they will need to thrive in today’s global marketplace after they graduate.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie, first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie, Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret and Hannah Buxbaum, who was recently appointed to replace Zaret as vice president of international affairs, with students studying abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France.

These numbers are testament to our sustained efforts to open up intellectually and culturally stimulating overseas study opportunities for greater numbers of IU students and to ensure that an IU education includes an international component. And we can all look forward to further growth of our global engagement as campus leaders continue to implement our International Strategic Plan.

Just last week, the IU trustees approved the appointment of Hannah Buxbaum as the university's next vice president for international affairs. Professor Buxbaum is a faculty member in the Maurer School of Law. Her background and extensive international experience, including serving as the inaugural academic director of the successful IU Europe Gateway office in Germany, make her the ideal candidate to build upon the strong foundation that David Zaret and his office, and before him Patrick O’Meara, have built over many years -- a foundation that has helped make IU one of the nation's most internationally engaged universities.

Transforming campus living and learning

This has truly been an extraordinary time at IU in transforming the living and learning environments of our campuses. This fall we have dedicated or broke ground on several superb new academic, athletic and student housing facilities, each of which is designed to nurture the success of our students, enhance the educational and work experience for students and staff, and strengthen the sense of community across the university.

In September, we celebrated the return of the splendidly renovated Goodbody and Memorial halls, which are part of the historic Wells Quadrangle at IU Bloomington, to their original function as residence halls, a purpose they have not served for close to 40 years. These newly renovated buildings will provide our students with enhanced opportunities for rich personal growth, social interaction and vital leadership experience. 

The new Multidisciplinary Research and Classroom Building at IUPUI reflects the collaborative spirit to be found on our Indianapolis campus. This approximately 100,000-gross-square-foot facility will house programs and research laboratories affiliated with the School of Science, the School of Engineering and Technology, and the School of Informatics and Computing. Preliminarily sited at the southeast corner of Blackford and Michigan streets, the new building will include state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research, lab and classroom spaces, collaborative learning environments, and support areas, all of which reinforce the strength of IUPUI’s teaching and research enterprise.

Riverside Hall, IU South Bend

October saw the completion of Riverside Hall on the IU South Bend campus, which will serve as the new home for the expanded IU South Bend Health and Wellness Center. Located on the north bank of the St. Joseph River, this refurbished and modernized 11,000-square-foot building, which includes classrooms, clinical spaces and laboratories, will serve as the hub of the campus's enhanced health sciences programs and classes, while also providing low-cost, high-quality care for students, faculty, staff and community residents.

Two new centers at IU Bloomington will offer IU students excellent internationally-focused educational opportunities. In October we announced the naming of the Milt and Judi Stewart Center on the Global Legal Profession, which will provide students with opportunities for hands-on learning about the law in other countries. One of the leading research centers of its kind, developed thanks to a $7.7 million gift from the Stewarts to the Maurer School of Law, it has, so far, facilitated more than 125 summer externships in 10 countries since 2010.

The new Tobias Center for Innovation in International Development, established at the School of Global and International Studies through a $5 million gift from Deborah and Randall Tobias, will advance teaching and research activity related to such important issues as foreign aid, global public health and environmental protection. This new center — which we formally opened with a major two-day conference last month including former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar as the keynote speaker — will have a major impact on preparing a new generation of leaders in the increasingly vital field of international development.

Also last month, we held an official groundbreaking for Wilkinson Hall, a modern, 3,000-seat, multi-use facility that will serve as the home for IU Athletics’ popular programs in volleyball and wrestling. The hall, which is named after IU alumnus Jay Wilkinson and his family in recognition of their $10 million gift to the Bicentennial Campaign, will give student-athletes in these two sports the resources they need to compete at the very highest level and be located closer to student housing.

More major projects are on the horizon in early 2018. Next semester we are scheduled to:

  • Break ground on IU and IU Health Bloomington's massive new Regional Academic Health Center, a 735,000-square-foot complex that will house IU Health Bloomington's inpatient and outpatient services as well as a 115,000-square-foot academic facility that will be used for health sciences education and research at IU.
  • Dedicate a new 45,000-square-foot addition to the IU School of Dentistry on the IUPUI campus, which will ultimately house approximately 125 state-of-the-art clinics to train the next generation of dentists.
  • Open the new Jaguar Fitness Center in the Campus Center at IUPUI.
  • Dedicate the Conrad Prebys Career Services Center at the IU Kelley School of Business, which will provide important career services support to students at Kelley as well as other undergraduates across the IU Bloomington campus.
The 735,000-square-foot Regional Academic Health Center complex will house a 620,000-square-foot, five-floor IU Health Bloomington medical facility as well as a 115,000-square-foot academic facility that will be used for health sciences education and research at IU.

Increasing the IU Bicentennial Campaign goal to $3 billion

Philanthropy helps provide the funds for a number of these buildings and many others recently constructed at IU. For example, the Prebys Career Services Center is being made possible through a $20 million gift that the late Conrad Prebys gave to the Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign in 2015. It is one of a large number of remarkably generous gifts IU has received since this campaign started.

The response to the Bicentennial Campaign, IU’s first-ever university-wide campaign and one of the most ambitious philanthropic efforts by a public university anywhere in the country, has been overwhelming. Over the last 70 months, members of the IU community across our state and nation and around the world have embraced this vital moment in our history to contribute as never before. More than 270,000 alumni, friends and organizations have generously and selflessly supported the campaign, and more will do so by the time it is finished.

This fall, we were delighted to announce that the Bicentennial Campaign had already achieved more than 80 percent of its then goal and had surpassed the $2 billion milestone. After four consecutive years of record philanthropic giving, we have been able to add 3,500 new scholarships and 147 endowed chairs and professorships across the seven campuses we administer. These achievements represent a record 27 percent and 37 percent increase in scholarships and endowed faculty chairs and professorships, respectively, in the past five years.

Simply put, this means that we will be able to recruit and retain some of the best faculty in the world. It also means that students from low-income backgrounds who could not otherwise have afforded to pursue a degree now have the opportunity to come to IU.

The Bicentennial Campaign’s incredible success has also given us a unique and unrepeatable opportunity to have an impact on the future of IU that will resound through the whole of the next century of its existence. Hence, we announced that the goal of the campaign would be increased to $3 billion, dwarfing any of the previous IU campaign goals. We also announced that the campaign will be extended an additional six months, through June 2020, corresponding to the end of IU’s bicentennial year.

Extending the campaign will allow us to continue to pursue a number of key goals, including:

  • Attracting even more gifts for scholarships to continue expanding our successful efforts to keep an IU education affordable and accessible for all Hoosiers. We will do this through a new scholarship endowment fund to be known as "The Indiana University Advantage," which will provide more scholarships that will cover the direct costs of attendance at IU for qualified students from low-income Indiana families.
  • Attracting gifts for additional endowed chairs and professorships to further strengthen IU’s research excellence.
  • Attracting support for IU’s large and extensive initiatives in the health sciences, such as our new Grand Challenges program on fighting the scourge of opioid addiction in the state and the new Regional Academic Health Center in Bloomington.

Moving forward for our future

As I have said on several occasions, IU's bicentennial will be a unique moment never to be repeated. The major events and activities of the past few months -- as busy a time as I can remember in my more than 10 years as IU president -- are testament to how members of the IU community are taking full advantage of this opportunity and generating exactly the kind of momentum we need to remain and grow as one of the premier public research universities of the world.

Without question, ours are bold priorities as we seek to keep IU on the course of greatness in its third century and redouble our efforts to ensure pervasive excellence in all that we do. Of course, central to the success of these efforts will be the support of the hundreds of thousands of IU alumni and friends around the globe who continue to support our missions to improve the world for future generations. For the contributions you make every day to IU, we remain deeply grateful.

And as this will be my last update of the year, Laurie and I would like to wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.

With thanks as always,

Michael A. McRobbie
Indiana University