Stone Family Center for Health Sciences Dedication

Old National Events Plaza Ballroom
Evansville, Ind.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

IU President McRobbie speaks at the Stone Family Center for Health Sciences dedication. Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

A New Era of Medical Education

Thank you, Mayor Winnecke.

More than a century ago, in 1908, Indiana University’s 10th president, William Lowe Bryan, spoke at one of the first IU School of Medicine commencement ceremonies. Weeks earlier, an agreement had been reached that would result in the merger of the fledgling IU School of Medicine, founded in 1903, with the State College of Physicians and the Indiana Medical College in Indianapolis. This merger expanded the school beyond Bloomington, where the school was founded—and is considered the second founding of the IU School of Medicine.

President Bryan said on that occasion: "We meet at the beginning of a new era in medical education in Indiana."1

One hundred and ten years later, as we dedicate the Stone Family Center for Health Sciences here in Evansville, it is no exaggeration to say that we meet at the beginning of a new era of medical education for the city of Evansville, southwest Indiana, and the surrounding region.

And as we celebrate the splendid new center, we celebrate a building that is an appropriate home for the vitally important education and research in the health sciences it now supports.

Building on a Historic Foundation

Over the course of more than a century, the Indiana University School of Medicine has grown beyond William Lowe Bryan’s greatest expectations.

Today, it is the nation's largest medical school. More than 20,000 living graduates practice medicine and conduct research in Indiana, across the country, and around the world. And the school has grown to include nine regional medical education centers across the state, including the strong program here in Evansville, which was established in 1971.

A 2006 report by an expert task force assembled by the IU School of Medicine concluded that the school would need to increase its enrollment of medical students by 30 percent in order to ensure an adequate supply of Indiana doctors in the coming two decades.2 One of the ways the school has worked to accomplish this increase has been to transform the regional medical education programs from 2-year to 4-year programs, as has been done here in Evansville.

In recent years, growing numbers of medical schools across the country have considered establishing regional medical education centers as a way to expand the physician workforce and to meet anticipated future health care demands. Indiana University has done so successfully for nearly five decades. And, as studies have shown, attending a regional medical education campus increases the likelihood that a student will practice primary care medicine, especially family medicine, in the area where they received their training—and in the communities where they are most needed.3

Moreover, in bringing together the expertise of the IU School of Medicine, the IU School of Dentistry, the nursing and occupational therapy programs of the University of Southern Indiana, and the University of Evansville’s physician assistant program and its doctoral program in physical therapy, the Stone Family Center for Health Sciences will have a transformative effect—not only on how we educate those who provide health care—but also on the future of healthcare in Evansville and southwest Indiana.

Celebrating Vital Partnerships

There are many people to whom we owe our thanks for helping us reach this moment. First among them, of course, is the family for whom this center is named—the Stone family.

With their generous gift of $15 million to support the collective vision of all involved in this visionary and far-reaching program, Bill and Mary Stone are helping to create a healthier, more vibrant community, and they are making an enormous impact on the citizens of Evansville, the region, and the state of Indiana. On behalf of Indiana University, I want to once again express our most grateful thanks to them.

We are also grateful for the support that the Indiana General Assembly has given to Indiana University over many years, including, of course, their appropriation for the facility we celebrate today.

I also want to express our gratitude to Mayor Winnecke and the City of Evansville for the financial incentives that helped make the Stone Family Center for Health Sciences possible. We very much appreciate the confidence of the Evansville community in this project as expressed through these incentives. It is our hope and expectation that the center will play an important role in the continued economic development of Evansville's downtown, and we look forward to playing a role in the ongoing redevelopment and revitalization of the riverfront.

I want to thank Dr. Steven Becker, associate dean and director of the IU School of Medicine-Evansville, for his vision and leadership, which was so vital to the expansion of IU’s program and the creation of this center.

The planning for the establishment of the Stone Family Center for Health Sciences as a multi-institutional medical education and research campus truly been a broad-based partnership, as will be the important work it houses. Let me express, on behalf of Indiana University, our gratitude to the leaders of our partner institutions: Dr. Ronald Rochon of the University of Southern Indiana and Dr. Christopher Pietruszkiewicz of the University of Evansville—as well as their respective predecessors.

Dr. Linda Bennett and Dr. Thomas Kazee, under whose leadership the planning for the center began. They, and the other senior leaders of their institutions, had the vision to recognize the needs of the Evansville region and to work collaboratively with the IU School of Medicine, with each institution drawing upon its particular strengths, to create a framework for the innovative teaching and research in the health sciences that will take place in this new facility.

Many others who are here today have been instrumental in helping develop the vision for the Stone Family Center for the Health Sciences. Many of you served on local working groups that helped guide our success. Members of the business community, health care providers, and representatives from our partners at Deaconess Health, St. Vincent Health, Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper, and Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes provided guidance that was crucial to the center’s development.

I would also like to recognize IU Vice President for Capital Planning and Facilities Tom Morrison for his outstanding efforts, as well as the many design and construction professionals, both internal and external, who contributed to this project. You will hear in a moment from the building’s principal architect, Sarah Schuler, of the Evansville-based design firm, VPS Architecture, which has worked on a number of projects on IU’s Bloomington campus. We are grateful to her and her colleagues for their work on the splendid new center.

And finally, I want to express my thanks to Pat Shoulders, from whom we will hear in a few moments. Pat is the longest serving of the current members of the Indiana University Board of Trustees, and he has served the university with great distinction as the national volunteer chair of the Alumni Association and in many other capacities. As most of you know, there is no stronger advocate for the City of Evansville and Vanderburgh County than Pat—and he has, of course, been one of the leading advocates for the creation of the Stone Family Center for Health Sciences. Pat and his wife, Lisa, generously gave the lead gift that made the beautiful fountains outside the center possible.

Pat is joined today by all of his fellow members of the Indiana University Board of Trustees. Because of the importance of today's dedication in the life of the university, the trustees are holding their first-ever meeting in Evansville this week.

In the same speech I quoted earlier, as IU president William Lowe Bryan envisioned the growth and development of the IU School of Medicine, he acknowledged that there would be difficulties, large and small. "But," Bryan said, "these fall away and leave me with only an overwhelming sense of our great opportunity to honor our forerunners by realizing their greatest hope—the opportunity to make… the great profession of medicine do (its) perfect work in Indiana."4

Today, as we celebrate the Stone Family Center for Health Sciences along with our dedicated university and community partners, we cannot help but be once again left with an overwhelming sense of the great opportunities ahead—opportunities for continued excellence in health sciences education and research that will have an enormous impact on the citizens of Evansville, the region, and the state for many years to come.

Thank you very much.

Source Notes:

1. William Lowe Bryan, IU School of Medicine Commencement Address, delivered May 20, 1908, IU Archives.

2. "IU Should Graduate More Physicians to Meet Indiana’s Needs, Study Group Concludes," IU press release, December 19, 2006, Web, Accessed August 1, 2018.

3. James Brokaw, et al., "The Influence of Regional Basic Science Campuses on Medical Students' Choice of Specialty and Practice Location: A Historical Cohort Study," BMC Medical Education, 2009, 9:29.

4. William Lowe Bryan, IU School of Medicine Commencement Address, delivered May 20, 1908, IU Archives.