Dedication of Luddy Hall, Remarks of Michael A. McRobbie

Luddy Hall
Dorsey Learning Hall
IU Bloomington

Friday, April 13, 2018

IU President Michael A. McRobbie speaks at the dedication of Luddy Hall, a new home for the IU School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering.  Photo by James Brosher, IU Communications

A structure for the generation of new ideas

A recent New York Times article noted that a number of innovative universities across the country are building or planning what the article called "structures for the generation of new ideas."1 These buildings are characterized by their incorporation of state-of-the art technology, designs that resemble the high-tech workplace, by abundant natural light, and by communal spaces that encourage conversation, exchange, and collaboration.

Today, as we dedicate Luddy Hall, we celebrate a new facility on the IU Bloomington campus that incorporates all of these elements and more. We celebrate a magnificent new home for a school that has grown to become one of the broadest and largest schools of its kind in the United States—the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. And we celebrate a building that will foster the generation of new ideas among IU faculty and students, further enhancing the spirit of innovation at a university already ranked among the world’s most innovative.

The School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering

The establishment in 2000 of the IU School of Informatics, as it was then known, added a new dimension to technology education and inter-disciplinary research. Not only was it the first school of its kind in the United States, it was also, at the time, the first new school at IU Bloomington in more than 25 years.

In 2005, in response to the ever-changing world of information and technology, IU combined the Computer Science Department—which was founded in 1967 and is a field of long-standing excellence at IU—with the School of Informatics.

In 2013, we celebrated the incorporation of IU's highly ranked School of Library and Information Sciences into the school. This merger aggregated the resources of two very well-regarded schools into a larger, more effective, and more competitive school.

 And, of course, in 2016, a new program in intelligent systems engineering was launched within the school. This new program will rapidly become of great importance to the region—and the entire state of Indiana—through the production of new, well-trained graduates in a high-demand field, as well as through its impact on the state’s economic development. Students in the school’s engineering program are now learning to build the intelligent, connected systems that will transform the tech world and change people’s everyday lives.

Engineering and the sciences are also pervasively connected and mutually supportive.  

As a recent report from the National Research Council observed, "scientists and engineers often work together in teams, especially in new fields, such as nanotechnology or synthetic biology that blur the lines between science and engineering."2 In fact, last fall, just one year after establishing the intelligent systems engineering program, IU was awarded a $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to advance nanoscale devices to improve human health, including fighting cancer. Because engineering and the sciences are increasingly interconnected, IU’s new program in intelligent systems engineering fortifies the Bloomington campus’s current research programs not only in computing and information technology—but also in the sciences, including biology, chemistry, environmental science, physics, and psychological and brain sciences.

The School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering also makes vital contributions to areas that are central to national security and prosperity, including cybersecurity and data science.

In addition, the school is equipping students for success and making major contributions to the economy of our state and the nation.

Ninety-six percent of the school’s undergraduate degree recipients secure employment or are accepted to graduate school within six months of graduation. 94 percent of master’s degree recipients and 100 percent of doctoral degree recipients secure employment within six months of graduation.

About half of those who earn undergraduate degrees in the school remain in the state of Indiana to work. In fact, the digital services sector in Indianapolis is the fastest-growing in the nation, and the school is a major supplier of talent for the Indianapolis tech boom.

And a number of flourishing companies—including Menguin, Merchant’s Garden, The Bee Corp, and CareBand—emerged from the Building Entrepreneurs in Software Technology (or BEST) Competition, which the school sponsored along with the Kelley School of Business.

Given this history—and this success—the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering is a prime example of how Indiana University’s mission has changed quite dramatically in recent years in response to the needs of students and the demands of our state and nation.

Luddy Hall

And the magnificent new facility we dedicate today reflects the school’s position as an innovator.

Two notable firms—Indianapolis-based RATIO Architects and their renowned national partner, Pelli Clarke Pelli—have masterfully designed this splendid building. The latter firm was co-founded by Cesar Pelli, one of the great architects of the last half century. Mr. Pelli was the original architect of The Columbus Commons in Columbus, Indiana. The structure, completed in 1973, has since become home to the IU Center for Art and Design. He also designed Columbus’s Advanced Center for Manufacturing Excellence, a facility shared by IU, Purdue University, and Ivy Tech Community College.

Luddy Hall provides much-needed teaching and research space in light of the enormous growth the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering has undergone in recent years—not only in terms of the addition of new departments and programs, but also the remarkable enrollment growth the school has seen in recent years. Graduate enrollment in the school has increased by 47 percent since 2013, and undergraduate enrollment has increased by approximately 60 percent over the same period—and enrollment is expected to grow even further now that this marvelous new facility is complete.

This wonderful new building serves as a state-of-the-art home for our world-renowned faculty, as well as for our students who will graduate with degrees in vital disciplines that are impacting nearly every major sector of the national and world economy. It will also serve as a dynamic environment for the development of new innovations aimed at growing new businesses and solving some of the most important problems facing our communities.

Toward these ends, the building has been designed to encourage collaboration and community. Unexpected encounters in Luddy Hall will lead to unexpected ideas—and these encounters will occur not only in the building’s classrooms and labs, but also here in the Dorsey Learning Hall, in the Shoemaker Innovation Center, in the student community center, the outdoor plazas, in the hallways, gathering areas, and in the offices and focus rooms that line the building and are filled with light.

Luddy Hall is also a prime destination for those seeking unexpected encounters with art, which can also lead to the generation of new and unexpected ideas. The building’s fourth floor is home to a wonderful new kinetic art installation, "Amatria," a living piece of architecture that responds to the presence of viewers, created by celebrated multidisciplinary artist and architect Philip Beesley.

Special Thanks 

There is a long list of people to whom we owe enormous debts of gratitude for helping us reach this moment, and, in thanking them, we must, of course, begin with the man for whose family this splendid new building is named: Fred Luddy.

Fred grew up in New Castle, Indiana, and he came to IU as a student in 1973, where he was given his first job as a programmer. Fred has said that this early experience at IU gave him the confidence he needed to start and propel his career.

He went on to work in Silicon Valley for a number of companies as a software designer and consultant, and he went on to serve as chief technology officer for Peregrine Systems.

In early 2004, he founded—the very successful company whose software helps large companies and other organizations manage their IT operations. He served as the company’s CEO until 2011, and as its chief product officer until 2016, when he stepped into an advisory role with the company.

Fred serves as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the School of Informatics Computing, and Engineering and is a wonderful ambassador for the school.

And, of course, in 2015, I was delighted to announce that Fred had generously given $8 million to help fund the construction of the building we dedicate today, and that it would be known as Luddy Hall in honor of Fred’s family.

Last December, we were very pleased to welcome Fred back to the Bloomington campus to share his share his entrepreneurial spirit and insights with our winter graduates as the speaker at IU’s Winter Commencement ceremony. I had the privilege, on that occasion, of presenting him with an honorary IU doctorate.

Fred, on behalf of Indiana University, I would like to once again extend to you our deepest gratitude for your generosity and for your dedicated efforts to help ensure the continued success of the IU School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. Would all of you join me in once again expressing our thanks to Fred with a round of applause?

I also want to commend and congratulate Dean Raj Acharya and the faculty and staff of the school for their dedicated efforts that have helped make the new building a reality.

I also want to extend special thanks to the school’s former deans who are with us today—Bobby Schnabel, under whose leadership the planning for Luddy Hall began; Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Brad Wheeler, who served as interim dean of the school and led much of the planning for Luddy Hall, and the school’s founding dean, Mike Dunn, who helped to build the school into a major school of its kind nationally. Would you join me again in recognizing them?

And I want to commend Vice President for Capital Planning and Facilities Tom Morrison, as well as the many design and construction professionals, both internal and external, who contributed to this project. With us today are Fred Clarke, the co-founder with Cesar Pelli of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, his colleagues Bill Butler, John Lind, and Ben Flaute, as well as Bill Browne of RATIO Architects. We extend our thanks to them and their colleagues, as well as to the many people from Weddle Brothers Construction, a Bloomington-based company whose work was also vital to the center’s construction.


Cesar Pelli, whose architectural firm, as I said, played a major role in the design of Luddy Hall, once observed that "We should not judge a building by how beautiful it is in isolation, but instead by how much better or worse that particular place—a city or campus, a neighborhood or landscape—has become by its addition."3

By this measure, Luddy Hall is already a triumphant success.

The beautiful, functional surroundings of the building we dedicate today create an atmosphere that will uplift the spirits of all who study, work, and visit here. Luddy Hall will inspire creativity, discovery, and intellectual achievement—all of which will benefit Indiana University, strengthen our state and nation, advance our use and understanding of technology, and further transform human culture.

Source Notes

1. Alexandra Lange, "The Innovation Campus: Building Better Ideas," The New York Times, August 4, 2016, Web, Accessed April 9, 2018, URL:
2. National Research Council of the National Academies, A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas, (The National Academies Press, 2012), 203.
3. Cesar Pelli, "Pieces of the City," Architectural Digest, August 1988, Volume 45, Page 36.