114th Annual Indiana Society of Chicago Dinner

Chicago, Illinois

Saturday, December 07, 2019


Thank you very much, Scott (Bove).

All of us at IU are extremely honored that the Indiana Society of Chicago has chosen Indiana University as its “Institution of the Year” during this, our Bicentennial Year. We greatly appreciate all that the Society does—and has done—for so many years to celebrate the Hoosier State and to provide vital scholarship assistance for 100s of deserving students.

I am greatly honored to accept this award on behalf of Indiana University. But I do this on behalf of countless IU faculty and staff colleagues, past and present; on behalf of the more than 5,000 members of the IU student body who come from the Greater Chicago area; and on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of IU alumni and friends—in Indiana, in Chicago, and around the nation and world.

Banner years at Indiana University 

This year is IU’s Bicentennial. Two hundred years ago on January 20, 1820, IU was founded in the trackless forest wilderness of Southern Indiana. But 200 years later, IU has become one of the world’s leading research universities. In recent years we have been energetically and vigorously preparing to meet the challenges of our third century. The scale of what has been accomplished in this short time is breathtaking; our confidence in our future has never been greater.

In the last year alone, and with continuing strong support from legislature and administration of the State of Indiana, we have seen record after record shattered.

  • Record low tuition increases, record levels of financial aid and a plummeting in student debt have made IU one of the most affordable public research universities in the nation;

We have seen:

  • A record number of 21,500 new IU graduates this spring;
  • Record freshman classes;
  • A record numbers of minority students at IU, now, in fact, equal to the minority percentages of the state’s population, and representing nearly a doubling of minority students over the last decade;
  • Record levels of research funding from government and industry of nearly $700 million, the most of any university in the state;
  • A record investment of $200 million aimed at improving the health and well-being of Indiana citizens through IU’s Grand Challenge programs to curb opioid addiction, address the impact of climate change, and develop precision cures for cancers and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's;
  • The largest academic restructuring in IU’s history, during which 10 new schools have been established in areas of vital national importance such as engineering and artificial intelligence, public health, architecture and design, and international studies;
  • A record period of construction and renovation, with approaching 200 major new buildings across all campuses, with a total value of nearly $2.75 billion, to support these new schools and enhance student life;
  • Record levels of international engagement, with record numbers of IU students studying abroad; the establishment of the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and the opening of IU Global Gateway Centers in Beijing, New Delhi, Berlin, Mexico City, and Bangkok – now the sun never sets on Indiana University;
  • The enormously successful record Bicentennial Campaign, which has now raised well in excess of $3 billion including for over 5,000 endowed scholarships and 200 endowed professorships, and to which many people in this room have generously given for which we are immensely grateful;
  • and the completion of the IU Bloomington Athletics Master Plan with the record investment of $250 million by some of IU’s most generous donors in new or renovated facilities such as the magnificently renovated Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall for which are enormously grateful to Cindy Simon Skjodt for the $40 million gift that made this possible. Cindy is here tonight to receive the "Hoosier of the Year" award on behalf of the Simon family and no family could be more deserving.

And speaking of athletics, I am sure none of you have noticed that the Hoosiers just finished their most successful football season in 26 years going 8-4. And the Old Oaken Bucket is home again. We’re going to a bowl, and tomorrow we will learn where!

Introduction of Angela Brown and Jim Cornelison

Now, it is my great pleasure to introduce two talented and legendary alumni of Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music—one of the finest in the world—who will perform for us this evening.

Angela Brown is a renowned soprano who made her acclaimed debut as the lead in a Metropolitan Opera production of Verdi's Aida in 2004. As a graduate student at IU, she studied under Distinguished Professor Emerita Virginia Zeani in the Jacobs School.

Ms. Brown has performed with the leading opera companies around the nation and around the world. She is a recipient of IU’s Distinguished Alumni Service Award, the highest honor reserved exclusively for alumni of the university.

She will be joined onstage in a few moments by Jim Cornelison, who is also a graduate of IU's Jacobs School of Music, and renowned for performing "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "O, Canada" at Chicago Blackhawks games—and for his recent performances of "Back Home Again in Indiana" at the Indianapolis 500.

Now, please join me in welcoming to the stage acclaimed soprano and distinguished Indiana University alumna, Angela Brown.