A recent nationwide benchmarking report indicates that 40 percent of the buildings on America’s university campuses were built between the years of 1960 and 1975. These buildings, many of which were constructed to accommodate increased enrollment that resulted from the post World War II baby boom, are nearing or have crossed the 50-year mark—a point at which most of their major component systems require replacement. Many have never undergone major renovation.
Here on the IU South Bend campus, Riverside Hall opened in the middle of this period—in 1969. It was built to house the campus’s dental hygiene program and the Labor Studies Department at a time when the then-relatively young campus was undergoing a period of rapid growth. In fact, IU South Bend had awarded its first four-year degrees just 2 years earlier.
Today’s symbolic groundbreaking reminds us that the history of this campus is inextricably linked to the history of this notable city, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the changing campus landscape. Many of you, I am sure, remember the Stanz Cheese Processing Plant, which became the Fine Arts Building; or the Hutchins Tool and Die Company which became Greenlawn Hall; or the Army Reserve Center, which became the Purdue Technology Building.
Just as these buildings reflect IU South Bend’s commendable history of making new use of existing buildings, so too will the renovation and repurposing of Riverside Hall.
IU’s commitment to healthcare education and promoting wellness
Because the renovated Riverside Hall will house clinical spaces, health science programs, and an expanded campus Health and Wellness Center, the renovation for which we break ground today also reflects Indiana University’s commitment to excellence in the health sciences and health care.
IU plays an essential role in the provision of health-related services to the people of Indiana and to the nation through its clinical schools, which educate the overwhelming share of health sciences professionals in Indiana.
The reach of these schools is truly statewide. Eight regional medical education centers, for example, extend the outstanding medical education and research of the IU School of Medicine across the state. In fact, it was here in South Bend that the School of Medicine established a pilot program in the late 1960s to teach basic medical sciences to medical students on the Notre Dame campus. This program, along with a similar pilot program at Purdue, marked the beginning of IU’s statewide presence in medical education. Earlier this week, in Indianapolis, I had the privilege of paying tribute to the architect of Indiana’s system of statewide medical education, Dr. Steven Beering, the former dean of the IU School of Medicine and former president of Purdue.
And, of course, IU South Bend and IU’s other regional campuses graduate professionals with degrees in nursing, dental hygiene, radiography, and medical imaging technology—and the vast majority of those graduates remain in the region, where they make major contributions to the improved health of the patients they serve.
Improving health and wellness at IU South Bend and beyond
As home to IU South Bend’s expanded Health and Wellness Center, the renovated Riverside Hall will also help address major risks to individual health and the declining measures of public health in our state.
And these challenges are daunting.
Unfortunately, recent studies show that Indiana continues to rank poorly among all states in measures of the leading causes of illness and death as well as measures of the determinants of health.
Indiana has the 7th highest smoking rate in the U.S.1 The state has the 10th highest rate of physical inactivity and the seventh highest rate of obesity.2 Indiana is also one of the least funded states in terms of federal public health funding.
The continuing declines we see in many of these public health measures lend a sense of urgency to our efforts to address the underlying problems.
We have established two schools of public health, in a state that previously had no schools of public health—a vital field in a state with such daunting public health challenges.
IU’s commitment to contributing to better state, national, and global health is a major component of the Bicentennial Strategic Plan for Indiana University, a sweeping set of strategic initiatives that are guiding the university’s work in the years leading up to IU’s Bicentennial in 2020.
The Bicentennial Strategic Plan has also expanded IU’s commitment to direct support of its researchers. Just over one year ago, we announced the most ambitious program of research support in the university’s history—the Grand Challenges Program. This program proposes to invest, in the years leading up to IU’s bicentennial, $300 million in three to five major multi-investigator, multidisciplinary research projects, aimed at finding solutions to the “grand challenges” of our time—solutions that will provide major improvements in the quality of life for the citizens of the state of Indiana who have helped support IU for nearly 200 years.
In June, I was very pleased to announce that the Precision Health Initiative was selected as the recipient of the first round of funding. Led by Principal Investigator Dr. Anantha Shekhar, the Precision Health Initiative focuses on an approach that is expected to transform biomedical research and the delivery of healthcare in the future. The Precision Health Initiative will seek to cure at least one cancer and one childhood disease, as well as find ways to prevent one chronic illness and one neurodegenerative disease.
This initiative represents an effort to overcome one of the greatest challenges facing Indiana and society: developing a comprehensive approach to individualized health care. It will put IU’s extensive breadth and leadership of large-scale research, discovery, and innovation to work for the people of our state.
As we celebrate a renovated facility that will make major contributions to health science education and health and wellness in this community, I want to commend Chancellor Terry Allison for his tireless advocacy of this project.
The campus’s senior leaders, faculty, and staff have worked closely with Vice President for Capital Planning and Facilities Tom Morrison, the IU Architect’s Office, and the Office of Space Planning—all of whom are also to be commended for their work on this project.
Neither Indiana University nor IU South Bend can achieve their goals for excellence in the health sciences—or in any other areas—alone. Such progress only comes through partnerships with individuals, community organizations, and industries. And so, today, we also celebrate our strong partnerships with generous alumni and friends—whose philanthropic support allows the university to achieve what it otherwise could not—and our strong partnerships with organizations like the Dwyer Trust and HealthLinc.
As we formally break ground for renovations to Riverside Hall, we demonstrate our commitment to the health of the members of the IU South Bend community and to the region and the state. We celebrate those who take the skills they gain in Riverside Hall and become dedicated and caring health educators and community health workers. We celebrate the faculty and staff members who will realize a better quality of life through the expanded health and wellness center.
May the renovated Riverside Hall allow all of you to contribute ever more positively and productively to the vibrant academic life of Indiana University South Bend. Thank you very much.
- “Public ,” 2016 Public Health Action Campaign Fact Sheet, American Public Health Association, Web. Accessed October 16, 2016, URL: https://www.apha.org/~/media/files/pdf/advocacy/phact/16phact_indiana.ashx.