Local talent, global reach: engagement, collaboration, and innovation for the future of Wayne County, East-Central Indiana, Western Ohio and beyond

Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce Dinner
Wayne County Fairgrounds
Richmond, Indiana

Friday, January 22, 2016

Introduction and acknowledgements

Thank you, Chancellor Cruz-Uribe, for that kind introduction.

I am delighted to be back in Richmond and to be among so many friends of Indiana University.

I want to extend a special welcome to Richmond’s new mayor, Dave Snow, and offer congratulations to him on his election.

I would also like to welcome David Fulton, chancellor emeritus of IU East, who is with us tonight.

There are also, of course, many IU graduates in attendance tonight, including members of the IU East Board of Advisors and business and community leaders, all of whom make enormous contributions to Richmond and the Wayne County area.

The Wayne County Chamber of Commerce

I want to begin by congratulating the Wayne County Area Chamber on Richmond’s selection in 2013 as one of two Indiana communities to be part of the Stellar Communities program. This impressive honor is a great tribute to the work you do and reflects the positive impact you continue to have on the community you serve.

Of course, the Stellar Communities award is helping to make possible improvements that include renovation and revitalization of downtown Richmond; the creation of housing for seniors at Music City Place, along with enhancements to community services; and improvements to the city’s infrastructure and parks—all of which will greatly enhance the quality of life for citizens of the region. And I understand that great progress is being made on these and many other projects.

The Stellar Communities project is also indicative of the effectiveness of the partnerships in which the chamber is engaged—partnerships that truly will help to build a better Wayne County.

Richmond, Bloomington and beyond

And Indiana University is proud to be engaged in partnership with you.

As the number of IU alumni here tonight attests, we provide the educational foundation for many of this state’s and this region’s professional leaders.

IU East is also one of the region’s largest employers, with more than 500 employees.

The presence of IU East here in Richmond also allows residents of Wayne County and the surrounding area to take advantage of IU’s many academic and cultural resources, including lectures and performances; exhibitions by local, regional, national and international artists at the Tom Thomas Art Gallery and Room 912; and Red Wolves athletics.

These are just a few of the many academic resources and athletic and cultural events at IU East that are available—often free of charge—to area residents—and they help make this region an attractive place to live and work or locate a business.

As we look to the future, even greater engagement and collaboration between IU and the Wayne County area is possible because, in so many ways, we are already united. We share the same vision for the future of our state and its communities.

And so, this evening I would like to spend some time highlighting several priorities that are driving change at Indiana University and will continue to do so over the next decade. And as I do so, I will also highlight some of the ways IU is already engaged in the Richmond area and some of the ways in which we might partner more closely in the future.

The vital importance of IU’s regional campuses

Let me begin by saying a few words about the vital importance of the regional campuses of Indiana University, which have, over the course of the last four decades, continued to make vital contributions to their regions and the state of Indiana.

Today, IU East and her sister regional campuses are part of the fabric of their communities and regions, and they are part of the fabric of Indiana University. They provide an education that is innovative, flexible, relevant and accessible to a wide range of qualified learners.

And nowhere is that impact felt more greatly than in Richmond, east-central Indiana, and western Ohio, where Indiana University East provides the benefits of a large public university and its resources, combined with the close-knit learning environment typical of smaller institutions.

The campus has seen remarkable success in recent years. Enrollment has increased at IU East for eight consecutive years—the only IU campus where that is the case. This year’s first-year class is the most academically qualified the campus has enrolled to date.

Last May, I had the privilege of participating in 10 commencement ceremonies across eight campuses in which a record number of more than 20,000 students received Indiana University degrees in front of record crowds totaling more than 100,000. In fact, a number of our campuses—including IU East—set records for the size of their graduating classes.

We have also seen impressive numbers of students from IU East’s School of Natural Science and Mathematics accepted to various graduate and professional schools in the health professions and related clinical sciences—a testament to their hard work, to the excellent preparation they received in their programs, and to the dedication of the IU East faculty.

We have seen the campus become a leader in online education.

And construction is well underway on the Student Events and Activities Center, which will provide students with further opportunities for engagement and leadership, and which I visited this afternoon to see the progress there.

The new facility is set to open this fall, and I will be back for its dedication. As a venue for classes, student meetings, lectures, campus ceremonies, and a wide variety of other events and co-curricular activities, the Student Events and Activities Center will reflect the life and energy of the vibrant IU East campus. As a venue for intercollegiate athletics, the center will provide a sense of excitement and pride for the extended university community as the accomplishments of the Red Wolves continue to bind alumni and friends to IU East. And as a venue for intramural sports, and through the programs and courses in health, physical education, and recreation that will be offered in the facility, the Student Events and Activities Center will also make important contributions to the improvement of health and wellness at IU East.

The facility is being made possible by a number of generous individual and corporate donors, many of whom are here tonight. On behalf of Indiana University, I want to express our most sincere thanks to the dedicated alumni, friends, and community members whose generosity is helping make this splendid new facility possible.

Educations and innovation: keys to economic development and vitality in a knowledge economy

Indiana University’s core missions are, as they have been for nearly 200 years, to provide the best possible education for the sons and daughters of Indiana and to create an environment in which the university’s faculty can conduct research of the highest quality that contributes to state and national prosperity.

As a public university, Indiana University also makes enormous contributions to the economic development and vitality of our state. Our research is leading to major scientific breakthroughs, as well as new inventions, private investment, and new high-wage jobs.

In fact, IU was just ranked by Reuters as one of the the Top 50 innovative universities not just in the United States, but in the world.

We have seen incredible growth in collaboration across the state as well as tech transfer activities with hundreds of patent applications, invention disclosures, and intellectual property licenses. In fact, last year, IU had 183 U.S. and global patents issued—more than any other year in IU history and more than any other research institution in the state received last year. In addition, start-up companies based on IU licensed technologies attracted nearly $100 million in outside venture funding last year.

Innovate Indiana—IU’s economic development initiative—is helping to enhance all of these efforts. Under the leadership of Vice President for Engagement Bill Stephan—who is here tonight—Innovate Indiana consolidates and coordinates all of the university’s economic development activities, providing a single point of contact for our partners. It invigorates our efforts to turn the innovations of our faculty into new products, services, and treatments.

Vice President Stephan and other IU leaders have visited IU East and the region regularly to explore the possible roles the Richmond campus can play in the economic development of the region. They continue to work to bring educational policy to bear on the community’s aspirations by strengthening the partnership with Reid Health, enhancing K-12 initiatives, and working collaboratively with Ivy Tech and Purdue.

As all of you know very well, Wayne County’s economy is in transition. Manufacturing has traditionally been the cornerstone of the county’s economy—and it remains a key industry.

But as you also know very well, the manufacturing sector is undergoing enormous change as a result of globalization and technological change. This situation is certainly not unique to east-central Indiana, but it is, perhaps, more heavily felt here than in many other regions.

A large number of studies, including a 2009 report from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, (based on research conducted by the Indiana Business Research Center—which is part of IU’s Kelley School of Business) have concluded that education and innovation are now the driving forces of regional competitiveness.1

A 2005 report by the Strengthening America’s Communities Advisory Committee for the U.S. Department of Commerce provided strong justification for focusing much greater attention on our transformation to a knowledge-based innovation economy and aligning public policy and investments accordingly. The report said, in part:

“With increasing competition from across the globe, U.S. industries can no longer rely on low-cost labor, access to raw materials, and low value-added products and services to drive success. In an innovation-based economy, skilled human capital has become the most important form of capital. Knowledgeable and skilled people,” the report continues, “and their ability to apply that knowledge creatively, drive the engine of successful innovation.” The quote concludes: “…In the 21st century, America’s communities will derive economic strength by acting regionally to compete globally. Innovation and entrepreneurship are the new engines for job creation, productivity, growth, economic prosperity, and healthy communities.”2

Here in Richmond, IU East, as I have said, is enrolling record numbers of students and producing record numbers of graduates—knowledgeable and skilled people who will continue in increasing numbers and to greater degrees to apply their knowledge and creativity to drive the engine of successful innovation here in Wayne County and east-central Indiana.

IU East professor Litao Zhong, director of the Business and Economic Research Center in the IU East School of Business and Economics, has made a forecast of the region’s economy for 2016, and the evidence of improving economic conditions reflects the impact that IU East and the efforts of so many of you who are here tonight are having in Wayne County and east-central Indiana.

Total personal income, which had fallen significantly in Wayne County and east-central Indiana during the Great Recession, has rebounded and now exceeds the long-run trend. Per capita personal income in the region has also grown since 2010. The unemployment rate has steadily fallen and has now reached pre-recession levels. And the region is seeing increased employment in major industry sectors.

Economic development efforts in Wayne County during 2015 resulted in nearly $28 million of new capital investment, enabling 11 local companies to expand production lines, retaining 100 jobs, and creating more than 200 new jobs.

The Indiana Business Research Center in the Kelley School of Business—in the report to which I referred earlier—identified emerging clusters in the region in the health care and medical science sector; in legal and financial services; in education; in the arts; in mathematics, statistics and data accounting; and in information technology.

And this likely aligns with what you know from living and working here.

With Reid Health as the region’s largest employer, a great strength exists here in the allied health sector. And one of the major ways in which IU contributes to the social and economic development of the state of Indiana is through the educational, research, and clinical activities of Indiana University’s health science and clinical schools.

And of course, information technology is relevant to all areas of business and industry, as businesses large and small require IT experts ranging from support specialists to computer software engineers, from systems and data communications analysts to computer systems administrators.

In all of these and many other areas, IU East is producing graduates who can help enhance the region’s economic strength. Moreover, IU East is committed to continuing to work to produce graduates with degrees that are relevant to the needs of the region.

Indispensable collaboration

Nationally syndicated columnist Neal Pierce and urban expert Curtis Johnson once wrote that “collaboration is messy, frustrating, but indispensable.”3

Collaboration is, of course, also essential to the successful economic development of any region.

Too often, in many regions around the country, people remain confined to “silos” within their own organization or political affiliation. Thus, essential conversations in which leaders explore the diversity of perspectives, experience, and assets within their region simply do not take place.

It is abundantly evident that this is not the case here in Wayne County and east-central Indiana, where there is a strong history of collaboration and where leaders in higher education, business, and the political arena—including Mayor Snow, Chancellor Cruz-Uribe, and many of you who are here tonight—have made clear your steadfast commitment to continued collaboration. This spirit of collaboration is evident in the Stellar Communities projects—projects that will enhance the quality of life in the region and attract new business to Richmond.

The collaboration between the IU East campus and the community, of course, dates back to the campus’ founding. Richmond area citizens raised funds for the university to purchase the original plot of land for the campus.

Since that moment, the city has continued its stalwart support of the IU East campus and its missions. A number of years ago, the community reinforced their support through the Campaign for Community, a joint IU East and Purdue fundraising effort led by Rob Quigg. The resounding success of this campaign demonstrated the value this community places on higher education in general and IU East in particular. More recently, through the “Bold Aspirations” campaign—chaired by Dan and Angie Dickman and Bill and Felicia Quigg—members of the community have generously supported the creation of the Student Events and Activities Center, a facility that, as I said earlier, will help IU East students gain the life and leadership skills that will serve this community for many years to come.

Likewise, IU East places great value in the surrounding community. The campus has opened off-campus instructional sites, expanding the campus’ educational reach. Students and faculty at IU East are deeply involved in the community as well, through individual volunteer efforts and service-learning projects.

As the campus and the community begin to focus more intently on promoting economic strength in a knowledge economy, Indiana University is committed to partnering with you.

It would be presumptuous of me to offer a set of prescriptions for the region’s economy this evening. None of us at Indiana University have all the answers. But we are committed to helping find new ways to support economic development activities in the region.

We are committed to offering degrees that are relevant to the region’s needs and to preparing students for success in the knowledge-based economy.

We are committed to helping you leverage scarce resources.

Perhaps the resources of IU schools such as the Kelley School of Business or the School of Public and Environmental Affairs can be employed to a greater degree, in bringing good data to bear or through policy analysis.

But, above all, we are committed to engaging in conversation with you, and to hearing your thoughts, concerns, and aspirations for the future of Wayne County and east-central Indiana.

Change and growth at IU

Achieving Indiana University’s core missions requires this same spirit of collaboration.

It requires a statewide presence and collaboration that draws on the expertise of faculty and community members throughout Indiana. Such collaboration has the potential to yield impressive results across the state and around the nation.

Over the last few years, IU has been engaged in ongoing efforts to reevaluate how we achieve these core missions. At the same time, we have been planning for the observance of Indiana University’s Bicentennial, which gives us the remarkable opportunity to launch an extensive range of initiatives that will culminate in 2020 so that, in that year, we can rightly look back on the previous decade as one of the most productive and most transformative in IU’s history.

As a result, this is a time of tremendous growth and change for Indiana University.

Universities have often been described as, at best, making changes at a snail’s pace or, at worst, completely unable to change. Indiana University is evidence that nothing could be further from the truth.

Over the last eight years, widespread changes have been taking place on all IU campuses and at our medical centers across the state that will have sustained and long-lasting effects on the future of the university and the future of the entire state. In many areas, they represent deeper changes that are affecting all of higher education. As IU’s president, my goal has been to accelerate and manage this change.

Toward that end, a number of recent university-wide planning efforts have been brought together in the Bicentennial Strategic Plan for Indiana University. The plan is an ambitious set of initiatives focused on student success and the value of an IU education; research and scholarly excellence; the university’s role as an economic powerhouse in Indiana; and much more.

Following the adoption of the Bicentennial Strategic Plan, IU’s regional campuses joined together—with leadership from Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs John Applegate—to identify ways to further strengthen collaboration between the campuses and to advance the plan’s priorities that are at the very heart of the regional campus mission.

The results are now articulated in Blueprint 2.0: The Bicentennial Strategic Plan for the Regional Campuses of Indiana University, a comprehensive plan that will help IU meet the educational challenges of the next century by graduating soundly educated, highly motivated, and well-prepared individuals, who will contribute to the growth, prosperity, and well-being of their regions, Indiana, the nation, and the world.

For all: the Indiana University Bicentennial campaign

We are also in the midst of the first-ever university-wide, all-campus philanthropic campaign—For All: the Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign—with a record goal of $2.5 billion to be raised by 2020. The bold and visionary goals of the bicentennial campaign, which are the most ambitious in Indiana University’s history and among the largest ever by a public university, truly will set Indiana University on the course for greatness in its third century.

Built on our strategic priorities, this unprecedented undertaking will fulfill IU’s promise to change the way we live through path-breaking research, innovative academic programs, unparalleled international engagement and an accessible and exceptionally valuable education.

Here at IU East, support for the campaign will open doors of opportunity for students to have access to education and to scholars to freely follow their curiosity and make dramatic discoveries.

On behalf of Indiana University, I want to express our most sincere thanks to the generous alumni and friends who have already contributed to the Bicentennial campaign. In particular, I want to express our thanks to the family of the late Danny and Patty Danielson, two of the most tireless, loyal and effective supporters IU has ever known, for their estate gift of $100,000 for the benefit of the IU East Danielson Center. Since 1995, The Danielson Center has helped to expand IU East’s reach and contributed to economic development and an improved quality of life in Henry County.

And we expect very soon to announce a major gift to the IU East Bicentennial Campaign—one that will make a major and lasting difference to the IU East community.

Bicentennial Steering Committee

The Bicentennial Strategic Plan and the launch of the For All campaign, then, were our first two initiatives in preparation for the Bicentennial. Earlier this week, we announced the third initiative. In fact, we made the announcement on Wednesday, which was the 196th anniversary of Indiana University’s founding. January 20th is Founders Day— the anniversary of the day in 1820 when Indiana’s first governor signed legislation creating a state seminary that would later become Indiana University.

We announced the creation of a Bicentennial Steering Committee to plan and organize activities celebrating the Bicentennial. The committee will be chaired by Steve Watt, interim dean of the new School of Art and Design in Bloomington and Kathy Johnson, vice chancellor on the IUPUI campus. They will chair a large committee, with people from across the university, focused on planning events for the Bicentennial year and everything we will be doing leading up to the bicentennial. Our goal is to look comprehensively at how to engage all of the communities around the state in which there are campuses of Indiana University, as well as our more than 650,000 alumni around the state, the nation, and the world. The steering committee will make recommendations to me by the end of this academic year.

We also created the Council of University Historians, chaired by Professor Jim Capshew in Bloomington. This council is made up scholars, archivists and librarians from all eight IU campuses. Their goal is to ensure we fully capture the storied history of Indiana University and that we ensure that all who have contributed to its greatness are fully honored and recognized. Frances Yates, director of the IU East Campus Library, serves on the Council of University Historians.

These two committees, then, are together the third component of our preparation for the Bicentennial, and they will plan the ways we will use the Bicentennial as part of the intellectual mission of the university.


As I said earlier, greater engagement and collaboration between IU and the people of Wayne County and east-central Indiana is possible because we share a common vision for the future of our state and its communities.

We want to ensure that a first-rate education that is affordable and accessible is available to Indiana’s best students and that it allows them to realize their greatest hopes and aspirations.

For our communities, we share a vision of more jobs with better pay, enhanced educational and cultural opportunities, and a wider range of career opportunities. We aspire to healthier and happier Hoosiers, who have access to the best health care, medical education, and research.

We understand that progress only comes through partnerships with individuals, community organizations, and industries. We experience the realities of living in a global economy, and we are prepared to meet the challenges of this changing world through hard work, teamwork, and innovation.

Most importantly, we share a commitment to excellence in everything we do—from education and research to economic development, the health and life sciences, and the arts.

Excellence is the key that will keep us moving forward.

Excellence is the key to a stronger, brighter future for Indiana and for all of us who call it home.

Thank you very much.

Source notes

  1. “Crossing the Next Regional Frontier: Information and Analytics Linking Regional Competitiveness to Investment in a Knowledge-Based Economy,” (U.S. Economic Development Administration, 2009).18.
  2. Report of the Strengthening America’s Communities Advisory Committee, (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2005), 8.
  3. As quoted in “Crossing the Next Regional Frontier: Information and Analytics Linking Regional Competitiveness to Investment in a Knowledge-Based Economy,” (U.S. Economic Development Administration, 2009).30.