Planning for excellence in Indiana University’s third century: strategic iInitiatives and opportunities for IU, Central Indiana, and the State

Rotary Club of Indianapolis
Scottish Rite Cathedral, Second Floor Ballroom
Indianapolis, Indiana

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Introduction and acknowledgements

Thank you, Dean [Paul] Halverson, for that kind introduction.

Dean Halverson, as some of you may know, came to Indiana University from the Arkansas Department of Health, where he served as director and state health officer. We are very pleased to have attracted a health care leader of his caliber for the vital position of Founding Dean of IU’s Fairbanks School of Public Health.

I would also like to thank club president Jeff Lake and all the officers and members of the board of directors of the Rotary Club of Indianapolis for their leadership and for their invitation to talk to you today.

A number of colleagues from Indiana University have joined me today. I would like to introduce Nasser Paydar, the chancellor of the IUPUI campus and executive vice president of Indiana University. Nasser has served the Indianapolis campus and Indiana University with great distinction in a variety of positions for 30 years. Would you join me in welcoming him?

I would also like to introduce Bill Stephan, IU’s vice president for engagement. Bill’s office is responsible for all of IU’s economic development partnerships and other ventures, many of which draw upon the innovation and expertise concentrated at IU. Would you join me in welcoming him?

Since I last spoke to this group in 2008, I understand that the Rotary Club of Indianapolis has continued to grow strongly, and its members have continued to embody Rotary’s mission of providing humanitarian services, encouraging high ethical standards in all vocations, and helping to build goodwill and peace here in central Indiana and around the world. All of us around the state are grateful for all that you do.

Indiana University’s Bicentennial

As I am sure all you know, our state is celebrating its Bicentennial.

Last week, I spoke as part of a conference held here in Indianapolis by IU’s new Lilly Family School of Philanthropy that was held in conjunction with the state’s Bicentennial. The conference focused on the enormous role that philanthropy has played in the development of the public life of the Hoosier state. I had the great pleasure of introducing the keynote speaker for the conference, Clay Robbins, the president and CEO of Lilly Endowment, Incorporated, one of the nation’s major philanthropic organizations—and one that has done so much to help Hoosiers lead rewarding and meaningful lives.

As you may know, IU will celebrate its own Bicentennial less than four years from now on January 20, 2020. In fact, the 2019-2020 academic year will be a yearlong celebration of the critical role IU has played in the education and wellbeing of the state of Indiana and its residents.

For 200 years, IU’s missions have been the same: to provide the best possible education for the sons and daughters of Indiana—one that is contemporary and affordable—and to conduct research of the highest quality that contributes to the prosperity of the state, the nation, and the world.

We have, in recent months, launched three major Bicentennial initiatives that will lay the groundwork for IU to continue to excel in these missions for another 100 years and beyond.

The first was The Bicentennial Strategic Plan for Indiana University, which was approved by our trustees in December of 2014. The plan includes a number of demanding and ambitious goals across a wide range of areas—but goals we believe are achievable with sustained effort from all involved. The plan is focused first on student success and the value of an IU education; on research and scholarly excellence; on the university’s role as an economic powerhouse in Indiana; and much more.

The second part of our preparation for the Bicentennial was the announcement of what we call the “For All Campaign for Indiana University.” When we had the public launch of this Campaign here in Indianapolis in late September of last year, we announced that we had reached its halfway mark. This $2.5 billion campaign is among the largest campaigns ever in the history of public universities in the country. It is the first campaign we have ever conducted that involves all IU campuses—Bloomington, Indianapolis, and the regional campuses. I know there are people in this room who have already contributed to the campaign, and for that, we are deeply grateful.

Last month, on Founders’ Day, January 20th—the 196th anniversary of the founding of IU—we announced the third bicentennial initiative—the establishment of a Bicentennial Steering Committee which will recommend themes and events for celebrating the Bicentennial leading up to and during the Bicentennial year. This large internal committee, with representatives from all parts of the university, will recommend ways we will use the Bicentennial in the context of the intellectual mission of the university.

Much of the rest of what I will talk about this afternoon are initiatives that are part of the build up to our Bicentennial. But I also want to take this opportunity to update you on some things that have been happening at the university and try to weave together a whole range of different parts that people may not always realize are integrated into one coherent plan for the whole university. 

The IU student body, record numbers of graduates

Let me begin with a few comments about the student body of Indiana University.

IU is educating more Hoosiers than ever before—including in professional and specialized areas that are essential to Indiana’s economy. We also attract talented students from around the country and the world, many of whom stay in Indiana and enter the workforce, and many of whom start new businesses.

IU’s enrollment across the state is over 110,000 students.  Enrollment in Bloomington is up again by about 1.8 percent compared to the same point last year. Enrollment on the IUPUI campus is steady after setting new records and showing growth in nearly every student category in 2014. This year, the Indianapolis campus set new marks for enrollment in doctoral research programs, and for the number of degree-seeking domestic minority students and international students enrolled.

At the same time, we have kept the number of in-state students constant across the university, in line with the number of student places we are funded for by the state of Indiana.

The state, through the Higher Education Commission, has made a major point of increasing the number of residents of the state and others with degrees. Last spring, we graduated, for the first time ever, more than 20,000 students around the state of Indiana—far more than any other institution in the state. Our various graduation ceremonies around the state last spring were attended by about 100,000 people—so the impact on the state, even of our commencement ceremonies, is enormous. And every year, we add about 20,000 new alumni. We now have about 650,000 living graduates, the third largest alumni body of any institution in the country. 

The state, through a funding formula, rewards the production of a certain number of degrees in the STEM fields and certain other areas. We produce by far the greatest number of these and provided by far the greatest increase in degrees in these “high impact” areas. Consequently, we saw a significant increase in our budget—the largest increase of any institution in the state—that rewarded us for these achievements.

Of course, degree completion is also a priority—and I know Governor Pence spoke to you last week about the fact that we want students to stay in college and complete degrees.

About a year-and-a-half ago, IU established a new Office of Completion and Student Success, which is working to improve students’ four- and six-year graduation rates on all IU campuses. The initiative is providing advanced training and data for student advisors; improving student progress monitoring and reporting; fostering research to inform practice; and developing new information technologies that support completion.

And we are seeing positive results.

The Bloomington campus leads the state in both four- and six-year graduation rates. With the most recent cohort of students who graduated in four years, the four-year graduation rate increased from 60 to 63 percent. The six-year graduation rate in Bloomington has been steady at 77 percent for a number of years—and this is the highest graduation rate in the state.

We have also implemented many incentives for students to increase their course loads. Data shows that students who take at least 15 hours per semester tend to get better grades, are less likely to drop out, and are more likely to graduate on time.

The IUPUI campus was mentioned in an article last week in The Atlantic magazine on this very topic. The campus adopted the University of Hawaii’s “15-to-Finish” model, under which advisors encourage students to take at least 15 credit hours per semester. As a result, the proportion of students on the IUPUI campus who successfully completed 15 credits per semester increased dramatically from 28 percent to 64 percent. We expect this to have a major impact on IUPUI’s four- and six-year graduation rates, which have already improved in recent years.

In fact, the graduation rates on all of our campuses have increased over the last 10 years.

The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics began a few years ago to publish data that calculates the net cost to students attending all public institutions. Their data shows that financial aid reduces the net cost of attending IU to about half of the “sticker price” of tuition, room and board, books, and miscellaneous expenses. The data also shows that the net cost for the Bloomington campus is the lowest of all Big Ten institutions. That bears repeating. IU has the lowest net cost of attendance in the Big Ten when you factor in financial aid, a substantial amount of which we provide through the university, and which is also provided by the generosity of thousands of alumni and supporters.

Transforming IU’s academic structure

As the world around us changes, and as new avenues for better understanding the world and ways to contribute to its improvement arise, it is essential that our faculty and students are able to pursue new lines of inquiry and linkages across disciplines and professions. Along the same lines, we want to ensure that a university education remains relevant to our students and relevant to the future. 

Toward that end, we have carried out a major transformation of the university’s academic structure. We have, over the last five years, established or reconfigured eight schools in the university. That is out of a total of 25, so about a third of our schools are either newly created or transformed in major ways. Every single one of these new schools is aimed at some contemporary area of major societal importance or some contemporary area in demand by our students.

We established two schools of public health in a state that had no schools of public health and in a state which, sadly, as I think many of you know, has some of the worst public health indicators in the nation. The schools are graduating trained public health professionals very much focused on the kinds of public health challenges that we face in the state, including obesity, cancer, smoking, diabetes, the outbreak of AIDS in rural communities, and widespread drug abuse.

The School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation in Bloomington was transformed into a school of public health. And we established, as I mentioned earlier, based on the Department of Public Health in the IU School of Medicine, the Fairbanks School of Public Health, thanks to a very generous gift we received from the Fairbanks Foundation. We now have the only two accredited schools of public health in the state. And they are also contributing to the state’s economic development through the promotion of a healthier workforce and the containment of rapidly increasing employer health care costs.

Here in Indianapolis, we also established the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the first school of philanthropy in the country. It is, of course, named in honor the Lilly family, whose generosity has been so important to IU and to the state over many, many years.

We merged Informatics with the School of Library and Information Science to form a much larger School of Informatics and Computing, which has roughly doubled in terms of the number of graduates in the last five years and more than doubled in terms of the amount of externally-funded research that its faculty have received in recent years.

We established, by merging a number of units, the new Media School in response to the dramatic changes that the media industry has undergone in recent years, fueled by information technology. The Media School will ensure that IU is at the forefront of teaching and research about the understanding and production of media as it continues its dramatic transformation due to digital convergence, and it will prepare our students for the rapid and ongoing changes in these fields.

We recently established the new School of Art and Design, and we are very much focusing on design as part of that school. As with the media, design is also rapidly changing as a field because of digital convergence.

We also established the School of Global and International Studies in Bloomington, bringing together an extraordinary array of language centers and all of our area studies programs into one new school. We cover nearly every major language group in the world. In fact, we offer instruction in more than 70 foreign languages—more than any other university in the country. And we have at least one area studies center covering every single area of the world. They are housed in a superb new building. Secretary of State John Kerry came to Bloomington to speak to celebrate the opening of the new building late last year. It was the first visit by a sitting Secretary of State in IU’s history. He gave the most comprehensive survey of American foreign policy that he gave anywhere in the world last year.

In addition to all of that, we closed the School of Continuing Studies, merging its functions into the primary schools and colleges of the campuses, so that students in the school would truly be an integral part of IU and an IU education. The school’s outreach function moved to the IU Online program, which combines IU quality with state-of-the-art technology and student support. IU has long had great strengths in a number of individual online programs—business, nursing, and education, among them. Just last month, U.S. News and World Report ranked the Kelley School of Business’s online Master of Science program #1 in the country, and the Kelley Direct online MBA program #2. The same U.S. News rankings showed a huge increase in the standing of the IU Online program as a whole. IU Online moved more than 30 spots, from ranking 72nd in 2015 to 39th this year. Of course, that is very much a response to the fact that there is a tremendous demand for online education. In fact, over 25 percent of IU students are taking at least one online course this semester. It is a substantial and important part of what we do, and we have managed to do it in a coordinated way that draws on the full scale and resources of IU, while assuring that online students obtain the quality for which IU is known.

We also recently established a program in intelligent systems engineering in the School of Informatics and Computing in Bloomington. Today, all research universities are expected to contribute to a culture of “building and making” that takes the innovations and inventions of their faculty and students and disseminates them through new companies, products, and services that contribute to state and national economic development, creates jobs, and generates income for the university. The field of engineering plays a major role in sustaining such a culture. When our new engineering program was approved by the Commission for Higher Education—and we are very grateful to them for doing so—we became the last of 60 American universities in the Association of American Universities, the AAU, to establish some kind of engineering program. That program will become operational at the beginning of the next academic year, when we will welcome our first cohort of students. And our first graduates in the program will graduate in the university’s Bicentennial year. 

New facilities to support IU’s academic programs

Combined with all of this is the investment we have made in new facilities to support these new schools and programs—and we have prioritized our investments in this regard.

The Health, Physical Education and Recreation building in Bloomington, which now houses the School of Public Health, underwent a major renovation. The Fairbanks School of Public Health is housed in a new building, as is the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The School of Informatics and Computing is getting a superb new building in Bloomington for which we should be starting construction soon. The Media School will be housed, at the end of this academic year, in Franklin Hall, one of the oldest and most iconic buildings on the Bloomington campus. Franklin Hall is currently undergoing an extensive renovation. The design program is going into Kirkwood Hall, which is also being renovated.

And Global and International Studies, as I said, has a new building that I think is fast becoming one of the most iconic buildings on the Bloomington campus. And, as I always like to point out, half of the cost of that $54 million building was funded with revenue from the Big Ten Network. I have heard other universities talking about using Big Ten revenue to fund academic buildings. We have already done it. And, as I also like to say, I encourage people to support the Hoosiers by watching IU’s teams play on television, because that translates directly into dollars that come back to us, which are used to support the university’s academic mission. 

And, of course, we also renovated the historic Rotary Building, which as you know, was originally built thanks to the generosity of members of this club and Rotarians around the state. In the early 1930s, at the height of the polio epidemic, Rotary Clubs around the state pledged $250,000 for the construction of a convalescent home for children. They exceeded their goal, raising a total of $276,000—at a time when the Great Depression was nearing its height. It truly was a chapter in the history of this organization of which you can be very proud. The renovated Rotary Building now provides modern, high-quality space for a number of IU divisions, including IU’s Center for Global Health, which coordinates a number of global health partnerships, including the renowned AMPATH program in Kenya—the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare—a program the Rotary Club of Indianapolis has supported for many years, for which we are deeply grateful. And, of course, this is just one example of this club’s longstanding and impressive commitment to international engagement and service.

As Paul mentioned, all of this, and many other projects across all IU campuses that have been completed or are in progress or planning, involves an investment of nearly $2 billion and includes about 70 major facilities. And approximately 70 percent of them have been funded by private or internal university sources. 

One of the world’s most innovative universities

As one of the nation’s leading research universities, Indiana University has a special opportunity—and responsibility—to drive large-scale research, discovery and innovation to help address some of the most pressing challenges facing our state, nation, and world today.

Thus, we recently launched the most ambitious research program in IU’s history—the Grand Challenges Research program. The program, launched in September, will invest up to $300 million over five years to address some of the most urgent challenges facing Indiana and the world—such as global water supplies; the availability of energy; infectious diseases; harnessing the power of, and protecting, big data; and climate change. A faculty review committee recently selected five finalists from among the preliminary proposals. These five proposals impressed the reviewers as not only strong in their own right but as addressing issues of great importance to the people and economy of Indiana. A final decision will be made in June. We expect that one or two projects will be funded each year between now and the Bicentennial.

Last year, we held the record in the state, and set an IU record as well, for the largest number of patents that were issued to IU. 183 national and international patents were issued to IU last year. We were also responsible for attracting into the state over $100 million in follow-on funding for various start-ups based on IU innovations.

Last month, we were extremely pleased to announce that IU ranks among the world’s 50 most innovative universities, according to an analysis by Reuters News, which examined patent and publishing data from hundreds of research institutions around the globe. This ranking reflects the outstanding work of IU’s faculty, students, and staff, our ability to translate our discoveries into the marketplace, and our staunch commitment to strengthening the state’s economic vitality.

New academic health centers

Of course, the research, clinical, and educational activities of IU’s health science and clinical schools—which include the schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, optometry, social work, public health, and health and rehabilitation science—are one major ways IU contributes to the social and economic development of the state of Indiana.

The highly ranked IU School of Medicine educates the largest student body in the U.S. The school has established a leadership position in cardiovascular genetics and many other areas, and has gained a national reputation for its groundbreaking cancer research.

IU’s impact on the health of Hoosiers is amplified greatly by its close partnership with IU Health, the state’s largest healthcare system, serving tens of thousands of patients a year, and home to a number of nationally prominent specialty practices.

You may know that IU and IU Health announced earlier this year that we will dramatically transform the Indianapolis medical campus into a major new academic health center. IU Health will invest approximately $1 billion to consolidate its two existing downtown hospitals into one new state-of-the-art facility. A new medical education building, funded by IU Health, will also be constructed and co-located with the hospital as part of this initiative. This facility will house faculty and students from the IU School of Medicine, and will represent a tremendous improvement on most of the medical education and research spaces currently used by the School of Medicine. IU will also construct a large research facility as part of the overall academic health center. 

When complete, the academic health center comprising the new hospital and the new medical education facilities—and which also will include the recently constructed IU Neuroscience Research Building and the adjacent IU Health neuroscience clinical facility—will be a major leap forward in medical care and research here in Indianapolis and in the whole state.

It is important to note that while a good deal of medical education and research activity is expected to move to the new IU Health academic health center, the core IUPUI campus will continue to remain home to a large array of other health sciences programs. 

We also announced in April that the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital will be built on the IU Bloomington campus. IU has committed to invest about $50 million in a major facility that will bring together all of our academic health programs on the Bloomington campus: our medical education program, nursing, speech and hearing, and social work. The dean of the School of Dentistry is exploring establishing a dentistry program there as well. Other programs, including parts of the School of Optometry, all will be brought together in a building co-located with the hospital. This regional academic health center will be the largest collection of academic health programs anywhere in the state outside of Indianapolis. It will help address the state’s growing shortage of medical and health science professionals by allowing us to produce more graduates in these much in-demand professions. It will also attract investment and enhance economic development for Bloomington and south-central Indiana. In fact, we are already working with biotech and health sciences companies who are interested in co-locating facilities with the hospital.

Someone once said that a new hospital is a once-in-a-century opportunity. To be a partner in the establishment of two new hospitals is probably a once-in-a-millennium opportunity.

International engagement

Finally, let me just make some comments about IU’s international engagement.

In our increasingly interconnected world, a world in which no area is untouched by global forces and developments, international literacy, gained ideally through a period of study abroad, is an essential part of a university education. About 30 percent of the students on the Bloomington campus have studied abroad by the time they graduate. This ranks us at number 13 out of about 1,200 universities in terms of the number of students who study abroad. It is not uncommon for small, liberal arts colleges to have such numbers, but is far less common for a large public university like IU. 

Students who have studied abroad universally say that it is a life-changing experience.

We intend to continue to increase the number of our students who study abroad. Part of the Bicentennial Campaign is aimed at raising funds to endow study abroad scholarships around the world. We are working to increase the percentage of students who study abroad to 35 or 40 percent over the next five years or so.

We have around 200 partnerships with quality institutions around the world. These partnerships are a major part of providing the backbone for study abroad activity by our students.

We also have nearly 6,500 international students in Bloomington. The IUPUI campus has the second largest number of international students, with nearly 2,000. Across all the campuses of Indiana University, we have nearly 9,000 international students who come from 33 different countries. That ranks us, again, in the top 20 out of 1,200 in the nation. So we are, without a doubt, one of the most international universities in the United States.

I should note, of course, that Rotarians have, for many decades, done a superb job of fostering international student exchanges through Rotary Youth Exchange. The Indianapolis club alone is responsible for bringing many, many high school students from around the world to live with local Rotarians and their families during the school year, and you deserve our commendation for those efforts.

We have recently established three IU “global gateway offices” around the world. These centers are used to host seminars, workshops, and conferences. They are used for student recruitment and orientation and alumni events. We established one in Beijing, one in New Delhi, and last November, we opened our latest office in Berlin. In approximately a year-and-a-half of operation, the three gateways in China, India, and Germany have hosted 55 events with nearly 1,600 participants. As an example of how we are using these offices, earlier last year I was involved in opening a joint conference we held at our Beijing office with Peking University, one of the two top-ranked universities in China, on Chinese foreign policy in the Middle East. 

Later this year, we will be opening a fourth office in southeast Asia. After that, we are planning to open one in Istanbul. Following that, we plan to open an office in Latin America. And we plan to open an office in Africa as well. Our goal is to have all seven of these global gateway offices established by the Bicentennial. They will become a vital part of the university’s international strategy and our international engagement.

As Herman Wells said in a different context, once we get them established, then “the sun will never set on Indiana University.”


All of what I have described this afternoon—this enormous range of initiatives involving thousands of people across the university—is a transformation on a scale that the university has not seen since the days of IU’s 10th president, William Lowe Bryan, in the early 20th century, when most of the professional schools—such as the school of medicine, dentistry, and business—were established at IU.

And these are just a few highlights of the progress IU has made in recent years and an overview of our plans for the next four years as we approach our Bicentennial. 

As I think you can see, we share the same vision for the future of our state and its communities.

We want a first-rate education that is affordable and accessible to Indiana’s best students and that allows them to realize their 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.

As we continue to implement these plans, we will come to expect globally literate graduates with international experience. We will come to expect the best minds to stay in Indiana to generate the innovation and economic development that will move the state forward. We will come to expect cooperation, collaboration, and success. 

We understand that progress only comes through partnerships with individuals, community organizations, and industries.

And so, to achieve our goals, we will need the continued support of colleagues, partners, and friends like all of you. Rotarians have always given that support unselfishly and in the fullest measure—and for that Indiana University is deeply grateful.

Thank you very much.