Innovation Hall Dedication

Innovation Hall

Monday, May 24, 2021

Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie speaks during the building dedication of Innovation Hall at IUPUI on May 24, 2021. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University


Jonathan Coulson and Paul Roberts, who have overseen many university planning projects, including the development of a master plan for Trinity College Dublin, write that university campuses have “a deep-rooted prestige as places of teaching, learning, and nurturing. Conjuring images of cloistered quadrangles, of sunny lawns, of wood-paneled libraries cloaked in an ethereal hush, …(they are) viscerally charged with centuries of scholarly tradition. And yet,” they continue, university campuses are also places “of cutting-edge science, of youth, vibrancy, and energy. It is this dual nature, this concurrent adherence to tradition and innovation, which renders the physical environment of the university such a redolent, enduring, and dynamic realm.”[1]

Today, as we dedicate the newest facility on the IUPUI campus, Innovation Hall, we celebrate a building that embodies this dual nature of concurrent adherence to centuries of scholarly tradition and to innovation.

STEM education at Indiana University

This new building also, of course, helps to provide for the future of education in the vitally important STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—fields that help increase the base of highly-skilled workers who meet state and national needs in a wide variety of industries.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupations in the STEM field are expected to grow by eight percent by 2029, compared with 3.7 percent for all occupations.[2] The advanced industry employers who dominate STEM hiring are also leaders in research and development investment, exports, and their industries contribute enormously to the economies of their states and the nation. Because STEM workers are highly-paid, highly-productive, and tend to work for high-growth companies, each new STEM job created is estimated to create two more local jobs with broad economic impact.[3]

And, as a recent report from the Brookings Institution noted, cities that have successfully made the transition from manufacturing to advanced industry economies are often anchored by urban research campuses, like IUPUI, that help meet STEM workforce demands and drive innovation through applied research and industry partnerships.[4]

Earlier this month, I delivered my 14th and final State of the University address as president of IU. In it, I noted that 589 new degree and certificate programs have been added at Indiana University since I became president in 2007. These represent 589 new ways in which IU students can gain qualifications to enable them to embark on successful and satisfying careers. 182 of these new degree and certificate programs—or 31 percent of the total—are in STEM disciplines. I also noted that more than 308,000 IU degrees have been awarded over the last 14 years, with more than 112,000 of these degrees—or 36.5 percent of the total—being granted in STEM disciplines.

These impressive figures—along with many other programs and initiatives you will hear about today—reflect Indiana University’s strong commitment to increasing the number of graduates with degrees in STEM fields.

Innovation Hall

A number of years ago, faculty, students, staff, administrators, and local community leaders—many of whom are here today—gave extensive input over a period of many months to the Master Plan for IUPUI, which was completed and approved by the IU Board of Trustees in 2012. During the planning process, considerable effort was made to maximize collaboration and inclusiveness. The resulting IUPUI Master Plan was—and is—a superb blueprint for the future development of this campus.

One important area addressed by the Master Plan was the quality of teaching and research space on the campus. It specifically called for the addition of future research and instruction space that facilitates interdisciplinary collaboration and interaction through group work and active learning, as well as physical integration of programs within buildings.

Innovation Hall is just such a space, providing much-needed research and classroom space that will accommodate the growth of the three schools whose programs it will house.

The IUPUI Master Plan also recommended that future campus buildings be designed in a way that promotes architectural unity and establishes a sense of place.

Innovation Hall, whose exterior design harmonizes with existing campus landmarks, including the Campus Center and the James J. Fritts D.D.S. Clinical Care Center, to strengthen the overall character of the campus. And, as a “gateway” building, Innovation Hall provides members of the university community and visitors with an even stronger and more visceral sense that they are entering a great urban research campus.

And at a time of global change and upheaval when there is a national bipartisan consensus as to the vital and urgent need to massively increase investments in science and technology to ensure America continues to lead the world in innovation and competitiveness and to buttress national prosperity and security, Innovation Hall—and the programs it houses—will help Indiana University to lead the state’s efforts in this regard.

Special Thanks

There are people to whom we owe enormous debts of gratitude for helping us reach this moment.

I want to begin by commending Chancellor Nasser Paydar for his tireless efforts in support of the construction of Innovation Hall over the last several years.

I also want to commend and congratulate Dean David Russomanno of the School of Engineering and Technology. Dean John DiTusa of the School of Science, and Senior Executive Associate Dean Mathew Palakal of the School of Informatics and Computing—all of whom will speak later in the program—as well as all of the administrators, faculty, and staff of all three of these schools—for their dedicated efforts that have helped make the new building a reality.

I also want to commend as the many design and construction professionals, both internal and external, who contributed to this project.

And I also want to recognize Camy Broeker, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, the Indianapolis Business Journal’s CFO of the Year for 2020, who has made major contributions to the financial modeling behind Innovation Hall as well as other new construction and renovation projects on the IUPUI campus.


The late Cesar Pelli, whose architectural firm played a major role in the design of Luddy Hall on the Bloomington campus, and who, in the early 1980s, designed an observation tower that was never built, but was intended as a centerpiece for White River State Park here in Indianapolis, 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."[5]

By this measure, Innovation 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. Innovation 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, push the frontiers of scientific discovery, and further transform human culture.

Thank you very much.

Source Notes

  1. Jonathan Coulson, Paul Roberts, Isabelle Taylor, University Trends: Contemporary Campus Design, (Routledge, 2015), 6.
  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment in STEM Occupations, Web, Accessed May 19, 2021, URL:
  3. Alan Berube, Cecile Murray, “Renewing America’s Economic Promise Through Older Industrial Cities,” Brookings Institution, April 2018, Web, Accessed May 20, 2021, URL:
  4. Ibid.
  5. Cesar Pelli, "Pieces of the City," Architectural Digest, August 1988, Volume 45, Page 36.