Introduction to Bicentennial Strategic Plan Final Reports

Board of Trustees Academic Affairs Committee, online

Friday, October 02, 2020


Thank you, Madam Chair.

In 2013, Indiana University began an unprecedented strategic planning process to chart a course for the entire university in the years leading up to our Bicentennial.

I observed in my annual State of the University address in October of that year that the Bicentennial "provides us with a remarkable opportunity to begin now to further trim our sails to the winds of change and launch an extensive and comprehensive range of initiatives right across the whole university that will culminate in the Bicentennial Year so that, in that year, we can all rightly look back on the previous decade as one of the greatest, most productive, and most transformative in IU’s history."

As those of you who were on the board at that time will recall, the result of this charge was the adoption by the IU Board of Trustees in December 2014 of the Bicentennial Strategic Plan for Indiana University, as well as the subsequent approval of three closely aligned strategic plans for IU Bloomington, IUPUI, and the IU Regional Campuses. Together, these four plans set out ambitious and detailed aspirations and priorities to be implemented by the end of 2019–20, IU’s Bicentennial Year.

The Bicentennial Strategic Plan is in many important ways a “plan of plans,” building on both university planning and the existing strategic plans of many IU campuses, schools, and administrative units. Fundamentally, it was guided by the IU Principles of Excellence, adopted by the Board of Trustees in 2010, and the New Academic Directions Report of 2011. These established a framework for achieving our overarching vision to be "one of the great research universities of the twenty-first century and to be the preeminent institution of higher education in Indiana," and they set out key foundational changes in the university’s academic organization and structure. The contemporaneous Blueprint for Student Attainment for the IU Regional Campuses similarly reinvigorated a substantial part of the university whose importance had been for too long undervalued.

Four central values of the Bicentennial Strategic Plan 

In concert with these foundational documents, the Bicentennial Strategic Plan reflects four central values.

First, excellence is the cornerstone of every aspect of IU’s educational and research missions. As a great university, it is the commitment to and striving for excellence that will distinguish Indiana University and will be the firm basis of its long-term success and greatness. The Bicentennial Strategic Plan both incorporates the excellent planning work of the university’s constituent campuses, schools, and centers, and it depends for its success on the remarkable abilities, energies, and creativity of IU’s highly accomplished academic community.

Second, as also stated in the introduction to the plan, "a great university must do a great many things very well, and a great public university must be accountable to the many constituencies who have a just claim on the university’s attention." It is not realistic, nor does it well serve the university or its many constituents, to compress the mission of a great university to a handful of activities and purposes. The sheer breadth of disciplines and roles is the reason that IU makes an invaluable contribution to the state, the nation, and the world. Consequently, the Bicentennial Strategic Plan is built around priorities and action items that encompass the breadth of the university’s activities, recognizing the critical importance of each. Indeed, given a university as large and comprehensive as IU, many elements of the institution—campuses, schools, departments, and academic and research centers—had already developed or were in the process of developing thoughtful, aggressive strategic plans geared to their particular needs and aspirations. The university strategic plan proudly encompasses their breadth and diversity, and adds overarching direction.

Third, for an institution truly committed to excellence, knowledge and understanding are always evolving. Strategic plans must therefore build on present strengths, but they are essentially forward-looking documents. A plan for IU’s Bicentennial must look forward to our next century. Thus, the fundamental purpose of the Bicentennial Strategic Plan is "to build the foundation for Indiana University’s enduring strength, and to keep IU on the course of greatness in its third century." 

Fourth, the Bicentennial Strategic Plan complements and indeed undergirds the IU Foundation’s campaign, For All: The Bicentennial Campaign for Indiana University. The original goal of this astonishingly successful campaign was $2.5 billion, an audacious target at the time; it was raised in 2017 to $3.0 billion; and it will conclude this year with a total of more than $3.5 billion, thanks to the remarkable generosity and commitment of more than 300,000 individuals and foundations. We will celebrate the campaign and announce the final total at a virtual event next week. This support was earned in no small part by a compelling vision of the future and a credible pathway toward that future—which, in a nutshell, is exactly what the Bicentennial Strategic Plan sought to accomplish.

An outpopuring of energy, talent, and creativity

Most importantly, the Bicentennial Strategic Plan unleashed an unprecedented outpouring of energy, talent, and creativity. I think you will find that the accomplishments over the five-year period of the plan resoundingly fulfill the Bicentennial Strategic Plan’s bold aspirations. Together we have indeed transformed Indiana University in nearly every domain of its activity—from the classroom to clinical services; from laboratories to service learning in the communities we serve; from studios and auditoriums to public safety; from cyberspace to a ubiquitous presence in the state of Indiana; from IU museums, libraries, and collections to an unparalleled network of global engagement; and from inspiring campus spaces to the courts and fields of athletic competition.

When we first envisioned the Bicentennial Strategic Plan seven years ago, none of us could have imagined the profound disruption to higher education and global society caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of which will likely be felt for some time. The pandemic underscores, albeit in an unexpected way, the rapidly changing environment which universities like IU must navigate in the twenty-first century. If we are to thrive in this century, we must sail in a well-built craft and we must never lose sight of our lodestar commitment to excellence. Thus, while the circumstances of today are truly unexpected and unprecedented, the fundamental purpose of the Bicentennial Strategic Plan—to articulate and express our mission and core values, to set us on a course to achieve an ambitious vision for IU, and to build a strong foundation for greatness for IU’s third century—has never been more relevant or more critically important than it is today.

Special thanks and introduction of John Applegate and Michael Rushton

In a moment, Vice President for University Academic Affairs John Applegate and Professor Michael Rushton of the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs will share highlights of a comprehensive report they have complied on the outcomes of the Bicentennial Strategic Plan.

Vice President Applegate and Dr. Rushton—and all their staff—deserve our special thanks for the excellent work in seeing the plan through from conception to the final report.

The accomplishments under the Bicentennial Strategic Plan are, of course, the work of an extraordinary number of IU faculty, staff, and students, and the entire university is indebted to them not only for what they have done, but for all that they have made possible for IU’s third century.

And now, to present highlights of the report, I will turn the floor to Vice President Applegate and Professor Rushton.