Seasons of success

IU enhances its focus on employee growth and global engagement, celebrates the achievements of its student-athletes

Dear Friend of IU:

Indiana University has always taken great pride in one of its most vital resources: its talented, dedicated faculty and staff who comprise IU's human resources.

In recent times, we have – with the strong support of our Board of Trustees – sought to ensure that all of our faculty and staff are compensated fairly, that they receive annual pay raises where budgets allow, that they have decent and reasonable benefits, and that the lowest paid at least receive a living wage. To the latter point, our goal is for all employees across the entire university to earn at least $15 an hour by the end of 2020, our bicentennial year.

We have also looked beyond just matters of compensation, as important as they are, to improve and address broader issues such as workplace satisfaction, health and wellness, programs for growth and development, uniform paths to promotion, streamlining hiring, training, parental leave, workplace safety, controlling benefit costs and employee diversity, equity and inclusion.

Our work in these and other areas has underscored once again the fact that human resources has a major impact on every aspect of a university. It has also shown that there are further opportunities to develop and improve the workplace conditions and environment of IU's 20,000 employees – one of the largest bodies of employees at any institution in the state.

To this end, we were very pleased that at the recent Board of Trustees meeting, the board approved the appointment of IU's first-ever vice president for human resources, a position that signals IU's continuing strong commitment to doing all it can to improve the conditions and workplace environment of all IU employees. Effective July 1, current Associate Vice President John Whelan will assume this position.

Since arriving at IU in 2014, John has done exceptional work in support of IU's faculty and staff, while also guiding the development of HR2020, IU's first-ever human resources strategic plan. As a vice president, John will be in the strongest position to ensure that HR issues and the needs of IU’s employees are always considered in the development and implementation of IU policies and institutional strategy. Additionally, placing the human resources function at IU under the responsibility of a vice president demonstrates the university's deep commitment to the success and wellbeing of IU’s faculty and staff – a commitment embodied in IU's Bicentennial Strategic Plan as well as in our Principles of Excellence.

Indeed, it was considerations in the past parallel to these that led to the establishment of vice presidential portfolios in other areas, including athletics, diversity, engagement, information technology and international affairs, that signaled the vital importance of these areas to the university at the highest levels.

In this spirit, I would like to share with you updates in two of these areas: international affairs and athletics.

The Indiana University International Center

Another exciting project that was approved at the recent meeting of IU trustees was the construction of a $17.5 million, 40,000-square-foot International Center. The building will be situated in the heart of the IU Bloomington campus at the northeastern corner of Jordan Avenue and Seventh Street, across Jordan Avenue from the Global and International Studies Building.

The International Center will co-locate the Office of International Services and the Office of Overseas Study, which are currently located at widely separated parts of the campus. The former serves IU's large number of international students (more than 8,000 last year from around 140 countries), who bring the varied perspectives, cultures and languages of their countries to the IU domestic student body, hence enriching an IU education. The latter facilitates IU's 250 overseas studies programs in 67 countries. Increasing and record numbers of IU students – nearly 4,000, according to the most recent figures – are participating in our study abroad programs.

The International Center will provide an exciting new model for enhancing the international engagement of IU's student body by integrating all of the support and services provided by both offices in one place and by building off the synergies and efficiencies that will result from their co-location. It will provide services and facilities for both the orientation of overseas students coming to IU and students intending to study abroad, hence allowing them to interact and learn from each other. The International Center will also provide facilities for meetings and other functions by the roughly 100 formal and informal internationally focused student organizations on the IU Bloomington campus. This model will be unique in the Big Ten and one of the few of its kind in the U.S. It also represents a robust continuing commitment by IU to international engagement.

A new milestone in Mexico

The new International Center will also support the work of a number of other offices concerned with international engagement, including IU's Global Gateway Network, which now includes IU’s newest global gateway office in Mexico City. 

IU President McRobbie joined Dr. Francisco Trigo, vice provost for cooperation and international affairs at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, to formally open the IU Mexico Gateway office on the UNAM campus.

Last month, I led a small delegation of IU officials to Mexico to formally open this new office, the university’s fourth such facility around the world. The IU Mexico Gateway is housed at the highly regarded National Autonomous University of Mexico, whose campus is one of only six UNESCO world heritage listed campuses in the world. This office will provide IU with a physical presence in a major Latin American economic and cultural center and serve as a gateway to other countries within the region.

The Mexico office will be led by academic director Christiana Ochoa, who is also the associate dean for research and faculty affairs and a professor of law at the IU Maurer School of Law, and office director Beth West. Like our other global gateway facilities in Beijing, Berlin and New Delhi, the office will facilitate greater engagement with our international alumni, key businesses and nongovernmental organizations, while also supporting teaching and research opportunities, conferences and workshops, and study abroad experiences for our students.

A number of events were held on the UNAM campus to celebrate the new gateway, including a special concert by the virtuoso student instrumentalists of IU's New Music Ensemble. The standing-room-only concert of over 300 people, performed by one of the great musical ensembles in our internationally acclaimed Jacobs School of Music, was a rousing success. Equally exciting and memorable was a post-concert reception in which roughly 200 former students and friends of the university proudly showed off their Hoosier spirit, proving once again that our international alumni are our greatest global ambassadors.

This new office marks the latest milestone in IU’s continued effort to strengthen its engagement with Mexico and Latin America. We have seen a substantial increase in recent years of the number of Latin American students at IU, a roughly doubling of Latino enrollment at IU over the last decade and a growing number of Latino alumni, who now number around 10,000.

The New Music Ensemble from the IU Jacobs School of Music performed in Mexico City as part of the celebration for the opening of the IU Mexico Gateway.

All of this is happening at a time when Indiana continues to see substantial growth in its Latino population and experience major economic and cultural impacts from its increasing ties to Latino-owned businesses. More than 400,000 Latinos now live in Indiana, three-quarters of whom are of Mexican origin, and, according to data gathered by the IU Public Policy Institute, they represent the fastest-growing and youngest segment of the state’s total demographic. And currently, Mexico is Indiana’s second-largest trading partner, importing more than $5 billion in Hoosier-manufactured goods and products.

The trip also set the stage for two especially exciting events that will take place next spring semester in Bloomington and Mexico City. First is IU Bloomington's third-annual Global Arts and Humanities Festival, which will focus on contemporary Mexican culture, following previous campus-wide programs on China and India. "Mexico Remixed" will be the largest Mexican arts and culture festival ever mounted in the Midwestern U.S. Second is a match by IU’s eight-time NCAA champion men's soccer team at UNAM’s renowned 72,000-seat Estadio Olímpico Universitario, which hosted the historic 1968 Summer Olympics.

A banner year for IU sports

Mention of our great tradition in men’s soccer reminds us that all across IU during the 2017-18 academic year, our student-athletes achieved an outstanding array of accomplishments – both in and outside of the classroom – bringing great honor and distinction to our university.

Several numbers alone indicate what a noteworthy year it was for our IU Athletics programs in Bloomington, which produced:

  • A school-record 90 All-America awards.
  • 4 Big Ten Athletes of the Year.
  • 42 individual conference champions (up from 27 the previous year).
  • 37 First Team All-Big Ten honorees.
  • 15 teams that qualified for postseason play.
  • 4 teams finishing in the top 15 at NCAA competitions (men's soccer, men's swimming and diving, women’s swimming and diving, and rowing).
  • 2 National Coaches of the Year.
  • 2 Big Ten Coaches of the Year.

Our Hoosiers delivered some of the more memorable and thrilling seasons in recent years. Among the highlights:

  • In the fall, our men's soccer team went undefeated during the regular season for only the third time in the program's history, earning a record 19th trip to the NCAA's College Cup and its 16th National Championship game appearance.
  • The men’s swimming and diving team, led by National Coaches of the Year Ray Looze (swimming) and Drew Johansen (diving), captured a second straight Big Ten title and placed third at the NCAA Championships, IU's best finish in 43 years. This year's team, which featured 12 individuals who earned 44 All-America awards, won 14 out of 21 events at the Big Ten Championships. Junior Ian Finnery, who was named Big Ten Swimmer of the Year, led the way for our swimmers at the NCAA Championships, winning both the 100 and 200 breaststroke events and also capturing a title as part of the 400 medley relay team. On the diving side, senior Michael Hixon, an Olympic silver medalist, won an NCAA title in the 1-meter springboard.
  • The women's swimming and diving team finished second at the Big Ten Championships and eighth at the NCAA Championships, and for the third consecutive year the team ranked as the top Big Ten finisher at the NCAAs. Once again, the swimmers were led by Olympic gold medalist Lilly King, who captured NCAA titles in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke events for the third straight season and is now the winner of six individual NCAA championships in six tries. King is ranked No. 1 in the world in the 100-meter breaststroke, having broken an Olympic record in the event at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and breaking her own American record in the 100-meter at this year’s NCAA Championships. She was also named the Big Ten Swimmer of the Year for the third consecutive year, becoming the first to accomplish the three-peat in conference history.
  • IU's women's basketball team delivered a season for the ages, winning its first-ever WNIT championship in front of a record home crowd of 13,007 fans, the largest crowd ever to witness a women's game in Assembly Hall and one of the largest to watch a women's collegiate game ever. Guided by Coach Teri Moren and the outstanding senior duo of Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill, the team finished the year with 23 wins, tying the school record set the previous season.
  • In women’s track and field, junior Katherine Receveur won Big Ten Indoor titles in the 3,000- and 5,000-meter runs and the Big Ten Outdoor title in the 5,000-meter run. Receveur also won the Big Ten and Great Lakes Region titles in women's cross country and earned All-America honors with a 20th-place finish at the NCAAs. In men's track and field, Daniel Kuhn (600-meter indoors), Kyle Mau (indoor mile) and Willie Morrison (outdoor shot put) also won Big Ten individual titles.
  • This spring, IU's baseball and softball teams shined on the diamond. Baseball climbed as high as No. 8 in the national polls and earned its fifth NCAA tournament invitation in the last six years. Softball, under the leadership of first-year Coach Shonda Stanton, delivered a 17-6 record in Big Ten competition for the program's most conference wins in 24 years and earned a No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

Of course IU's student-athletes are, first and foremost, students, and they are excelling in the classroom.

We recently and proudly reported that a school-record 256 students from IU Bloomington's varsity sports received Academic All-Big Ten honors during the past academic year and that a school-record 68 students had earned the distinction of being honored as Big Ten Distinguished Scholars.

Members of the IU women's basketball team celebrate winning the WNIT championship at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. 

Additionally, nine of our athletics programs (field hockey, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, men's golf, women's golf, softball, women's swimming and diving, women’s tennis and volleyball) earned perfect Academic Progress Report scores for the 2016-17 academic year. And IU's student-athletes garnered a 90.6 percent Graduation Success Rate, IU's highest mark in the history of the GSR data.

The success of our student-athletes is truly a team effort, and our congratulations go to our students, coaches, faculty and staff for continuing a winning performance on the field AND in the classroom. And we can look forward to even greater academic and athletic accomplishment as we prepare to open the new IU Excellence Academy at Memorial Stadium later this summer. The academy will soon become one of the nation’s premier facilities focused on the health, safety, wellness and holistic personal development of all of our students participating in intercollegiate athletics. This fall we will also open Wilkinson Hall, the new home of Hoosier volleyball and wrestling.

The athletics programs at our other IU campuses across the state also generated great excitement and saw numerous successes during the year.

Indeed, this was a year that saw the IUPUI campus, in a major step forward for its athletics department, join the Horizon League, a growing conference in the Midwest featuring public and private institutions that have impressive academic reputations and a strong tradition of athletic success. Already, the league is offering our student-athletes new opportunities for quality competition, while energizing the city of Indianapolis, one of our nation's truly great sports cities. The Jaguars had an immediate impact on the standings for the 2017-18 Horizon League James J. McCafferty Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s all-sport champion, finishing third in the program's first season in the league.

Our IU East campus saw its basketball team rise to a No. 1 ranking in the NAIA Division II Men's Basketball Coaches Poll for the first time in the program's history and achieve a remarkable 28-game winning streak as it played its way to the NAIA National Championship semifinals.

This past spring semester, our IU Kokomo campus concluded its inaugural baseball season with a 31-win season and overall winning record, competed in its first-ever track events and announced that women's soccer will kick off its inaugural season in summer 2019.

Our IU Southeast campus saw its baseball team win its sixth conference regular-season championship in the last decade and its men’s basketball team make its eighth national tournament appearance in the last 10 years. IU Southeast also boasted a campus-record 16 student-athletes who achieved 4.0 GPAs, while the IU Northwest campus announced that 38 student-athletes had recorded a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Members of the IU Southeast men's baseball team celebrate after winning their sixth conference regular-season championship.

And in South Bend, the men's baseball team received the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Champions of Character Award for the Chicagoland Conference. The award is based on five core values display by coaches and players: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.

All of us at IU can look forward with great anticipation to the new academic year – and to a new season of success for all of our sports teams around the state.

A final word

This will be my last update for the 2017-18 academic year. It has been a great year for IU by any measure – maybe one of the greatest in recent history. My updates during the year have charted the accomplishments of our outstanding students, faculty and staff from all of our campuses in an extraordinary range of areas. This update has described just a few recent accomplishments in international affairs and athletics. But the year has seen remarkable academic achievements by our students and faculty, record numbers of graduates, record student quality, record diversity, continuing low cost of attendance and very low tuition increases, new academic programs, continuing infrastructural expansion and renewal, exceptional research breakthroughs, record fundraising and further growth in international engagement. And the list goes on.

It is an imposing list that is testament to your enormous energy and dedication. But summer is traditionally a time of repose and reflection, and I hope that it can be this for you.

So on behalf of IU, let me again thank you all most sincerely for a year of outstanding efforts and share Laurie's and my best wishes for a restorative summer. We look forward to seeing you all back re-energized for another year of exceptional achievement as we count down to the IU Bicentennial.

With thanks as always,

Michael A. McRobbie