Celebrating student achievement and continuing to meet the demands of our state, nation

Dear Friend of Indiana University:

We recently concluded what is one of the true highpoints of the year -- our commencement season. Over the course of nine days we conferred a record more than 21,000 IU degrees to our newest Hoosier alumni across our seven campuses -- far and away the largest group of graduates to be produced by any institution in Indiana. Furthermore, a record 114,000 people participated in all of IU’s commencement ceremonies.

Our core campuses in Bloomington and Indianapolis both set records this spring for the largest graduating classes in their histories, awarding more than 16,700 degrees between them, and our IU Kokomo campus also graduated a record number of students.

Our newest graduates hail from all of Indiana’s 92 counties, all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, and an IU-record 136 countries. Nearly 70 percent of our graduates, who range in age from 19 to 75, are Indiana residents, more than 55 percent are women, and over one in every five are first-generation college students.

A graduate of IU South Bend receives her degree during commencement.  Photo by James Brosher, IU Communications.

The following are a series of videos about our outstanding graduates from all of our campuses and IU Online which I hope you find of interest. In the videos, these graduates talk about the impact of their IU education as they prepare to step into the future.

By itself, the sheer size of IU’s graduating student body is a constant reminder of how IU is the state’s educational powerhouse and of the unique role Indiana’s namesake university continues to play in creating and advancing the educational, intellectual, economic, social and cultural fabric of the Hoosier state.

Quantity alone, however, doesn’t begin to define the extraordinary work being conducted across our campuses, where, every day, tens of thousands of bright and motivated students are engaged in preparing themselves, with the help of our world-class faculty, to succeed personally and professionally in a rapidly changing world and to take on the most pressing challenges confronting our own communities, committed always to the pursuit of truth.

Indeed, as I said in my commencement address, throughout IU’s nearly two-centuries-old existence, the pursuit of truth has been a vital cornerstone of the kind of education our students receive. Now more than ever, our society has an important need for those trained in truth and who have a reverence for truth. Our society needs policy-makers, scientists, public servants and business executives -- the kinds of leaders our graduates will become -- who have an understanding of the elemental importance of truth. The distinguished newspaper career of IU alumnus Paul Tash, who talked about the importance of truth and fact in his commencement speech at IU Bloomington, reminds us that society needs journalists who report the truth, inform the public, speak truth to power, challenge corruption and protect the vulnerable.

As John Hennessy, executive chairman of Alphabet, Google's parent company, and president emeritus of Stanford University, told members of the IU Bloomington graduate commencement class, our society will also need individuals who are determined to use their education and their new ideas to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

And our society will need more individuals like longtime media executive, journalist and author A’Lelia Bundles and IUPUI’s 2018 commencement speaker, the great-great-granddaughter of social activist and influential philanthropist Madam C.J. Walker, who are committed to understanding history and valuing the experience and expertise of others.

Through their dedication in the classroom, volunteer service in the community and around the world, and in countless other ways, our students continue to affirm IU’s legacy as a university committed to excellence in education and research, to building a prosperous and innovative state and nation, and to the continual search for truth.

Looking back on this academic year

Of course, it would be a nearly impossible task to list every individual, department, school or university organization that earned accolades and praise during the past academic year, but I want to share some particularly noteworthy accomplishments.

I would also like to share just a few recent major developments that took place in the days and weeks prior to our busy commencement season. Each of these highlights how we continue to strengthen our educational environment to ensure we are effectively meeting the evolving needs of students and advancing the economic vitality and quality of life of the communities we serve.

Shining in the classroom and the community

As I have said on many occasions, for all of the many things a premier public research university like IU does, students are its reason for being, and student success is at the core of its mission.

All of us can take great pride in the ways our students shone in the classroom, in their communities and in countless other ways this academic year. And we can take even greater pride knowing that our students are carving out success stories no matter what IU campus they call home.

To this end, IU South Bend student Phillip Marmorino was recently named the first Goldwater Scholar in the campus' history. A double major in math and physics, he is one of 211 Goldwater Scholars recently named in the nation and one of only seven named in Indiana. The Goldwater Scholarship is one of the nation’s most prestigious awards recognizing outstanding college sophomores and juniors who have shown great promise in math, science or engineering.

In Bloomington last month, the campus honored five students as recipients of the IU Bloomington Provost's Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity. Established in 2010, the award recognizes exceptional undergraduates who collaborate on, or spearhead, excellent or original academic work. Awards were presented to students for their work across five fields, including the creative and performing arts, the humanities, natural and mathematical sciences, professional inquiry and the social and applied sciences. In April, IU Bloomington also hosted its annual Honors Convocation ceremony, one of the traditional activities that mark Founders Day, the annual celebration of IU's founding in 1820. During this formal event, the campus confers upon its most academically distinguished undergraduates the designation of Founders Scholar.

Meanwhile at IUPUI, the campus recently bestowed a number of top campus honors to students, including the Dr. Charles R. Bantz Award for Excellence, given to IUPUI's top graduate or professional student; the award for the Nelle Godio Most Outstanding Student; the William M. Plater Civic Engagement Medallion, which recognizes graduating undergraduate and graduate students at IUPUI who have demonstrated a commitment to community and civic mindedness; and the prestigious Wells Graduate Fellowship, awarded annually to students who demonstrate leadership, academic excellence, character, social consciousness and generosity of spirit.

IU Army ROTC cadets take the Oath of Commissioned Officers to become 2nd Lieutenants in the United States Army. Photo by Amelia Herrick, IU Communications

I was also pleased to join several other university leaders last month in recognizing the commitment and leadership of the IU Army ROTC Class of 2018, whose members added to the distinction of IU’s historic and highly ranked ROTC program. The 19 IU Army ROTC cadets who graduated this spring embody the very best of our university, our dedication to service and our commitment to excellence in all that we do. We wish them well as they prepare to assume the great responsibility that comes with becoming officers in the U.S. Army.

Many more of our students made their positive presence felt this academic year through their volunteering and other community engagement efforts.

This year, through a pilot program of IU's new Center for Rural Engagement, 550 IU students in 20 classes worked with communities in Lawrence County on more than a dozen projects identified by community stakeholders. The projects that were part of the Sustaining Hoosier Communities initiative included analyzing options for reuse of the Avoca Fish Hatchery, creating artistic city gateways for Bedford and Mitchell, and examining best practices to combat addiction. In the years ahead, we can look forward to seeing many more IU students take part in these types of meaningful community-building projects as we continue to develop our IU Corps initiative, another program affiliated with the Center for Rural Engagement, which we inaugurated in March.

At IU Bloomington, students gave back through their participation in one of IU’s great traditions, the Little 500, which has now raised more than $2 million for student scholarships since its inception in 1951. And last fall, students raised a record $4.2 million in support of Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health through their participation in and leadership of the IU Dance Marathon. This event is one of the largest student philanthropic events at any university in the country and has raised more than $32 million since its inception in 1991.

Not to be outdone, students at IUPUI celebrated breaking the half-million-dollar milestone in fundraising at the annual Jagathon dance marathon in March. It was the third consecutive year in which Jagathon, which also benefits Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, set a new fundraising record.

Great credit is due to all our students -- across all of our campuses -- who work so hard to make these and other student-run activities such stunning successes.

Cultivating a world-class faculty

Teaching and service also continue to be at the heart of IU’s mission and have been for the university’s nearly 200-year history. They are essential to the university's strategic priorities, including fulfilling our commitment to student success, maintaining a community of scholars and strengthening our reputation as a global institution.

Indeed, our faculty lie at the heart of everything we do at IU. Their expertise, passion and commitment are central to the university’s success, and their work provides the foundation for IU’s outstanding national and global reputation.

Last month, we had the great pleasure of honoring eight faculty members and three graduate students for excellence in teaching and service. Those we recognized, including members of our IU Bloomington, IUPUI, IU Kokomo and IU Northwest campuses, have truly done remarkable work, demonstrating dedication to their students, innovative approaches to teaching and engagement with the campus, the broader community and the world.

Teaching and service award recipients with IU President McRobbie at the 2018 Celebration of Distinguished Teaching.  Photo by Chaz Mottinger, IU Communications

This spring we also honored six IU faculty members who were recently promoted to the university's highest academic rank for scholars and researchers -- that of distinguished professor. IU Bloomington appointees are David B. Allison, dean of the School of Public Health-Bloomington, and four professors from the College of Arts and Sciences: Carl Bauer, a microbiologist and current chair of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry; Jerome Busemeyer, a cognitive scientist in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences; Sumit Ganguly, an India studies and national security specialist in the Department of Political Science; and Mark Roseman, director of the Borns Jewish Studies Program and a professor in the Department of History. At IUPUI, School of Medicine medical oncologist Patrick Loehrer was also honored.

These six renowned academics have set the highest standards with their research, scholarship, teaching and leadership. They have also greatly enriched the life of the university with their work, which they had the opportunity to share with students, faculty, staff and other members of the IU community during our Distinguished Professor Symposia. We began these symposia last year, and they have quickly become among our most anticipated scholarly events of the season.

Strengthening our commitment to our students and our communities

IU's responsibility to the people of Indiana as the state’s flagship public institution of higher education is to provide an education of the highest quality and produce more and better graduates in areas of importance to the state and nation. As the aforementioned statistics and student success stories indicate, we are doing this in exemplary fashion.

But we are not standing still. We continue to focus our energies on developing an extensive range of new programs and schools in areas essential for our state and nation -- areas such as design, architecture, intelligent systems engineering, public health, international studies, media and philanthropy. We continue to strengthen career and academic advising across the university toward the goal of building career awareness and information into every student’s experience from the beginning of their IU studies. And we are working hard to ensure that IU faculty and researchers are able to realize the full potential of their innovations and discoveries, many of which will help create and support new jobs and industries in our state.

Regarding the latter, earlier this week we were extremely pleased to learn that the IU Research and Technology Corp., which protects, markets and licenses intellectual property developed at IU so it can be commercialized by business and industry, received the Tech Transfer Unit of the Year award from Global University Venturing. This is a major honor recognizing our efforts to initiate successful businesses and ensure that we are maximizing our support for entrepreneurial activity all across the university.

In the weeks leading up to commencement, we announced exciting new developments in several of the aforementioned areas of growth and development, each of which served as a prime example of how IU’s academic programs and the degrees it offers are rapidly evolving in response to the needs of students and the demands of our state and nation.

In March, we were very pleased to dedicate the new Conrad Prebys Career Services Center at the Kelley School of Business, which will provide a fitting new home for the career counseling, guidance and placement activities at Kelley that corporate recruiters already rank as among the very best in the nation.

As excellent as our career counseling center is, it urgently needed more space. The new $14 million facility, which is an addition to Hodge Hall on the IU Bloomington campus, nearly doubles the facilities where recruiters can meet privately with students. It includes more than 70 interview rooms as well as nearly 30 offices for staff serving more than 8,000 students in Kelley's undergraduate and master's degree programs.

We are especially grateful to the man for whom this splendid new center is named, the late businessman, philanthropist and IU alumnus, Conrad T. Prebys, whose generosity to IU and Kelley will ensure that IU’s business students continue to receive the expert guidance they need to make successful transitions from school to work and to go on to rewarding careers. We were also delighted that Prebys’ longtime partner, Debbie Turner, was able to attend and speak at the dedication.

In April, we held a weeklong celebration at the IU School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering -- appropriately called Luddy Fest -- culminating in the dedication of Luddy Hall, a magnificent new 124,000-square-foot home for most of the school’s departments and programs.

Luddy Hall provides a state-of-the-art training ground for our students who will graduate with degrees in such vital disciplines as data science, informatics, cybersecurity and intelligent systems engineering -- disciplines that are impacting nearly every major sector of the national and world economy. It will also serve as a dynamic environment for the development of new innovations aimed at growing new businesses and solving some of the most important problems facing our communities.

All of us at IU are most grateful to IU alumnus and IT pioneer Fred Luddy and his family for their enormous generosity that has made possible a building that will foster new ideas among IU faculty and students, further enhancing the spirit of innovation at a university already ranked among the world’s most innovative.

Establishing IU’s architecture program in Columbus

As April came to a close, we were delighted to announce a new home and name for our new Master of Architecture degree program. The program, which is based in the School of Art, Architecture + Design at IU Bloomington, will be housed in the former Republic Newspaper building in Columbus, Indiana, an exceptional work of modern architecture and one of seven Columbus buildings to have been named as a National Historic Landmark. It is also one of the best examples of the work of the late Myron Goldsmith, a highly respected architect, architectural theorist, writer and educator.

The Indiana University School of Art, Architecture + Design's new architecture program will be located in the former Republic Newspaper building, an historic building in Columbus. Photo by Hadley Fruits

It was also announced that the program itself will be named in honor of J. Irwin Miller, a Columbus native and industrialist who was instrumental in turning Columbus into what the American Institute of Architects regards as the 6th most architecturally significant city in the United States.

With this building acquisition, IU Bloomington and our School of Art, Architecture + Design are once again drawing upon the great strengths and unique assets of this wonderful city to establish what will be a superb laboratory for our students to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to become civic-minded, innovative and imaginative architects.

The program will help meet the considerable national and local need for professional architects and designers. Here in Indiana alone, the need for architects is projected to grow by 15 percent over the next decade. And it is a further step in IU's broader efforts to build a culture of 'building and making' to help develop innovations and inventions that contribute to local, state and national economic development.

On a personal note, my wife, Laurie, and I wanted to demonstrate our commitment to the J. Irwin Miller Architecture Program by making a gift of $500,000 to endow a professorship in modern architecture in the School of Art, Architecture + Design.

A final word

As you can see, the 2017-18 academic year represented another exceptional year for IU, which continues to serve as the state’s higher education powerhouse in terms of providing an education of the highest quality and producing more and better graduates in areas of central importance to the Hoosier state and our nation.

IU is doing both in terrific fashion, but we know there is more work to be done. We are continuing to pursue the vital priorities of our Bicentennial Strategic Plan in order to ensure IU's leadership in student success and service to our communities into the future. And, as demonstrated by the massive success of IU Day, our recent 24-hour online celebration of the university that brought together IU friends and supporters from all around the world, we remain united in meeting our responsibility to future generations of students and faculty.

Even though I am completing my 11th year as IU president, I continue to be amazed by the remarkable people with whom I work every day and their passion for this university and by our students and their scholarship and research. And I am as excited and enthusiastic today as I was when I began my presidency about the future of the institution.

In that spirit, I would like to offer my sincerest thanks to each and every member of the IU community whose generous and ongoing support continues to propel our university forward as we near the completion of 200 years of service to our great state.

With my very best wishes for a happy and healthy summer,

Michael A. McRobbie
Indiana University