A destination of choice

Record freshman class, record diversity and increasing strength of online programs reflect IU’s efforts to ensure affordability, accessibility and relevance

Dear Friend of IU:

While the 2018-19 academic year is only a few weeks old, our campuses across the state are already in full swing with all of the energy and excitement that a new fall semester brings.

The university is bustling with activity, as we enthusiastically count down to the rapidly approaching IU Bicentennial, now only 287 days away, and continue to make major advancements – in education, research, innovation, philanthropy and engagement in the life of our state – to prepare our university for a third century of excellence and ensure that we continue to achieve our primary mission of educating outstanding students.

Indeed, for all of the many things a premier public research university like IU does, students are our primary reason for being, and they will always be central to our mission.

This is why we are so very pleased that – despite considerable demographic changes across our state and nation and increased competition from outstanding universities such as ours – IU remains the leading destination of choice for Hoosier students in Indiana and continues to attract the best and brightest students from all around the nation and world. Collectively, these students are coming to our campuses for an affordable, accessible, relevant and top-quality education and the kinds of academic experiences that will help ensure rewarding careers and a lifetime of personal and professional success.

Largest freshman class in history, serving more Hoosiers than any other university

Our enrollment this fall semester features the largest freshman class in IU’s history, totaling nearly 16,000 new students, including record first-year classes at IU Bloomington, IUPUI, IU Kokomo and IU East.

Our freshmen are part of a total official enrollment at IU of 91,515 degree-seeking students on seven campuses. When non-degree-seeking students are counted – which includes thousands of high school students taking dual-credit courses sponsored by the university – IU serves nearly 109,000 students overall, the largest number of any college or university in the Hoosier state.

In fall 2018, Indiana University had its largest freshman class in its nearly 200-year-old history. Graphic by Samantha Thompson, Indiana University

Once again demonstrating our longstanding commitment to educating Indiana’s best and brightest, our undergraduate student body continues to comprise more than 75 percent of in-state students. Additionally, IU Bloomington and IUPUI included students from all 92 Indiana counties, further underscoring the fact that IU continues to educate more Hoosiers than any other university in Indiana.

Reflecting the diversity of our state

Our student body also continues to reflect the increasing diversity of our state. For the second consecutive year, IU's student body contains more than 20,000 degree-seeking minority students, setting a new record for diversity at the university and now constituting nearly a quarter of IU’s degree-seeking population.

The total of 20,856 degree-seeking minority students includes record numbers of Hispanic/Latino and Asian-American students and the third-highest number of African-American students (including those who have chosen the "two or more races" census category). This represents nearly a doubling of the number of minority students at IU since 2007. It is testament to our concerted efforts to make IU accessible to all, to better represent the world our students will enter when they graduate and to support a welcoming and inclusive environment.

We still have more work to do, but we can take pride in knowing that we are working hard to attract talented minority students to our campuses, build a multicultural community and meet our obligation to facilitate greater cultural awareness and appreciation in a state where minority populations will continue to have a major impact on our economic development and quality of life.

IU Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs James Wimbush has assumed the position of Johnson Chair for Diversity and Leadership in addition to his current duties.   Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

IU Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs James Wimbush and his team deserve great credit for their work in these areas, and we are pleased that their efforts will be further supported by a recent gift of $1.5 million from attorney Lacy M. Johnson, a partner at Ice Miller LLP in Indianapolis, and his wife, Patricia. Their gift establishes the Johnson Chair for Diversity and Leadership, which Vice President Wimbush has assumed in addition to his current duties.

IU Online – degrees and programs that work

We have also seen extraordinary growth in our successful online initiative, which has helped IU, a pioneer in this area for many years, firmly cement its position as the state’s online education powerhouse for four-year and graduate online education.

Established more than five years ago, IU Online now offers 124 degree and certificate programs and over 2,000 courses from IU's seven campuses. All programs and courses are developed and taught by IU faculty, coordinated by our faculty and academic administrators across multiple campuses, and subject to the same stringent university processes and approval procedures that our traditional academic programs go through.

The result has been an authentically IU experience that is a true extension of IU's faculty and curriculum, and that builds on the best traditional classroom experiences.

Our total enrollment figures indicated that a record 30,023 students, who represent nearly a third of this year’s student body, are enrolled in at least one online class, a figure that has surged dramatically in the past five years. We also have seen a considerable increase in the number of students (now totaling 8,760 and representing almost one-tenth of IU’s total enrollment) taking only online courses.

These are especially noteworthy and important figures when we consider that only about a quarter of Indiana’s resident population holds four-year or advanced degrees, ranking the state in the bottom quintile nationally. Twenty-two percent – or nearly 750,000 Hoosiers – have some college education but have not graduated. Our goal is to help more of them graduate, which, in turn, will rapidly increase the percentage of degree holders in the population and open pathways for them to new careers, promotions and other economic opportunity.

Recent graduate Justin Westfall was an IU Online student.  Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

But most cannot return as traditional full-time students, as they now have jobs and families. Others who graduated many years ago would like to complete new degrees that will also open new career prospects. IU is committed to helping as many of them as possible earn degrees, and online education is a lifeline to higher education and the hope of graduating.

Similarly, for the more traditional IU student who wants to earn their degree more quickly or have more convenient access to courses given the schedule of their other classes or work, online education provides an exceptional solution.

IU Online has contributed to IU’s dramatic increase in four-year degree completion – not so much in all-online degree programs, but primarily in in-person degree programs. The online platform offers opportunities to take classes that might not otherwise be available at a particular campus and time, or allows a student to fit an extra class into a work schedule. IU Online has also contributed to an increase in the number of students who take at least 15 credits a semester.

A final word

All of the facts and figures I have just described are testament to our continued and concerted efforts, as the state’s flagship public university, to achieving our top priorities of:

  • Providing a contemporary education of the highest quality.
  • Producing more and better graduates.
  • Ensuring our students are receiving training and experience in areas of importance to the state and nation.
  • Keeping an IU education affordable and accessible.
  • Better reflecting the rich composition of our state’s citizenry.
  • Building the foundation for personally and professionally rewarding lives.

The progress we have made suggests how seriously we continue to take our obligation to the residents of our state and how much we value our partnerships with the people’s elected representatives, who generously help fund and support our education and research missions. As the custodians of a public trust, we strive to ensure that the resources the people of Indiana have provided for this institution are invested wisely on behalf of our current and future students no matter where they come from. And we settle for nothing less than providing each and every student with an exceptional educational experience.

This commitment to providing the highest quality education to our students – and to ensuring that the instruction they receive inspires and stimulates the imagination and to creating an engaged citizenry – has been central to our enduring strength for almost two centuries.

Of course, maintaining that commitment to excellence would not be possible without the outstanding work done every day by our talented faculty and staff and the unwavering support of our alumni, partners and friends around the world, and to them I want to express our deepest gratitude.

With thanks, as always, for all that you do to support and advance IU’s mission and work,

Michael A. McRobbie