A university poised for a dramatic future

Dear IU Student, Colleague or Friend of the University,

Earlier this week, I was extremely pleased to present — to my fellow faculty members and colleagues, and to all members of the broader university community — my 14th and final State of the University address.

Admittedly, it was bittersweet to deliver my last address after serving for 14 years as president of this great university and for 24 years — more than a third of my life! — in senior positions at IU. At the same time, it was an honor and a privilege, as I am immensely proud of all that has been accomplished at the university during my presidency.

Although IU is emerging from a global pandemic — thanks to the strength and resolve all of you have demonstrated over these difficult past 14 months — the state of the university is strong. In fact, it is hard to identify a time when we have been better positioned for success.  

IU offers an excellent, affordable education on campuses around the state to students from all backgrounds from Indiana and far beyond.

The student body has never been more diverse, and our student population is currently more diverse than the state of Indiana itself.

Student debt is declining — thanks, in large part, to our pioneering financial literacy programs that now serve as models for many other colleges and universities around the nation — and financial aid support is at record levels.

Greater numbers of IU students have persisted to graduation. This is reflected in our recent record numbers of graduates, who, in achieving this major milestone in their lives, represent what will always be the ultimate aim of IU’s teaching and learning mission – to ensure the success of our students.

It is estimated that during the 2020-21 academic year that we are concluding today, IU will grant a record of more than 24,200 degrees, surpassing the previous record of just under 24,000 in 2018-19. This represents an extraordinary 31 percent increase over the number of degrees awarded in 2007-08.

Moreover, after the much-anticipated return, starting this weekend, of IU's in-person commencement ceremonies on all of our campuses across the state, more than 308,000 IU degrees will have been awarded over the past 14 years. More than 212,000 of these, or almost 70 percent, have been earned by Indiana residents. IU continues to educate more Indiana residents, by far, than any other college or university in the state.

Remarkably, what I have just described represents just a fraction of our collective successes.

Following the most extensive academic restructuring that our university has ever seen, IU has made available extensive new, contemporary and relevant degree programs and fields of study, both in-person or online. Philanthropy has reached unprecedented levels, and the university’s fiscal position is strong. Research is being funded at record levels, and, more than ever before, IU faculty are turning this intellectual property into new products and companies through a bold new entrepreneurial spirit within the university.

New facilities to support research and education abound on all IU campuses, and infrastructure across all campuses has never been better. The creative and performing arts are flourishing. Our vast, unique and invaluable collections are being brought to the forefront of IU’s scholarly enterprise in new and renovated facilities. Information technology at IU continues to define the cutting edge for other universities as it has for decades. IU has never been more engaged in the health and welfare of the people of Indiana through the health sciences and IU Health. We are among the country’s top leaders in international engagement and scholarship.

These myriad achievements represent 14 years of relentless hard work by you – and thousands of individuals across the university – addressing scores of problems and issues, some previously thought intractable, striving all the time for ever greater excellence.

All of you deserve an enormous amount of gratitude for the progress we continue to make.

But, as I underscored in my address, IU has reached a watershed moment. The scale of success we have achieved together over the past 14 years has prepared IU to take the next bold step forward and join the very top ranks of America’s greatest universities.

This is the opportunity and the challenge that lies tantalizingly within Indiana University’s grasp.

I am highly confident that IU is well positioned to leverage the strengths of its new and innovative schools and programs; its outstanding faculty; a talented and engaged student body; the dedication of its staff, its academic centers; and indeed, all of its collective assets, to sustain and build upon its enormous success over more than 200 years.

With my continued thanks for all that you contribute to our university’s success and progress,

Michael A. McRobbie

Indiana University