Strengthening and Deploying Indiana University’s Resources in Service to the State, Nation, and World

Indianapolis, Indiana

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Introduction

Thank you, Rachel (Applegate), for that introduction. I am very pleased to present to my fellow faculty members and colleagues, and to the broader university community, my 11th annual State of the University address.

I am also pleased to welcome a member of the Indiana University Board of Trustees who has joined us this afternoon. Please join me in welcoming Trustee Phil Eskew, of Bloomington.

Indiana's Higher Education Powerhouse

Plato’s great philosophical work, The Republic, written 25 centuries ago, is a meditation on what constitutes the best type of society. It sparked a debate that continues to this day. Many different components and forms of the best type of society have been vigorously argued for over the centuries, but two components remain constant—the need for a citizenry that is both educated and healthy. These are seen as essential to a good society by ensuring its prosperity and the quality of lives of its citizens.

From this perspective, there is much to do in Indiana. To take just two figures: with about 25 percent of the state’s resident’s holding four-year or graduate degrees, the state ranks 43rd in the nation in this area, and 39th in terms of the health of its population. So, it is a simple equation—improving both these figures will improve the prosperity and quality of life of the people of Indiana and beyond.

In both of these areas, Indiana University is the state’s powerhouse. Nearly 50 percent of all four-year and graduate degrees in Indiana are produced by Indiana University. IU’s health science schools produce the vast majority of the state’s health science professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, and dentists and IU’s close partner, IU Health, is the state’s largest hospital system.

Indiana University’s responsibility, then, to the people of Indiana as the state’s flagship public institution of higher education means providing an education of the highest quality and producing more and better graduates in areas of importance to the state and nation. It is doing this in exemplary fashion. Last year alone, a record of over 20,000 students graduated, again constituting roughly half of all four-year and advanced degree recipients in the state.

We have given particular focus to keeping an IU education affordable. Tuition increases have been at historically low levels, and the net cost of attendance is very low compared to our peers. IU student financial assistance for resident undergraduate students has increased 189 percent since 2007, ensuring an IU education remains accessible to Hoosier students from low income backgrounds. We have pioneered path-breaking student financial literacy programs that are national models and have resulted in savings to students of $100 million over the last four years.

And through a major academic restructuring, we have also focused on developing an extensive range of new programs and schools in areas essential for the state and nation—areas such as design, architecture, intelligent systems engineering, public health, international studies, media, and philanthropy—all based on the strong liberal arts foundation that has made American higher education the best and most admired in the world. The related restructuring of the regional campuses brings an excellent and affordable IU education to nearly every corner of the state.

As a result of these and many other efforts, Indiana University continues to be the major college destination for Indiana residents as well as highly attractive to others. Our enrollment remains strong and at record levels in many areas. This fall, IU enrolled over 112,000 students statewide—a total that once again included more Hoosier students than any other college or university in Indiana.

Both the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses welcomed their largest, most academically accomplished, and most diverse freshman classes ever this fall. And overall, our fall enrollment includes a record 20,053 domestic minority students—easily the most of any university in Indiana. This is a new record for diversity at IU, and it represents nearly a doubling of minority students over the last decade.

IU is also the state’s research powerhouse, with external funding for research from such bodies as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, totaling over $500 million—more than any other institution in the state. Path-breaking research, innovation, and scholarship take place in our laboratories and elsewhere every day. For example, the long-standing excellence of the work on Drosophila genetics done by our three federally funded Drosophila facilities in Bloomington was essential to the research that won this year’s Nobel Prize for Medicine for the discovery of how the body’s internal circadian biological clock works. And numerical simulation work done by IU astrophysicists using IU supercomputing resources has played an important role in the development of future and current gravitational wave detectors such as the LIGO detector that was used to confirm the existence of gravity waves, a discovery which won this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics.

IU’s standing as an innovation powerhouse was confirmed again by the recent Reuters ranking, one of the more credible and data-based rankings based on the number of patents, citations, publications, and related factors. It listed IU as the 27th most innovative university in the world, the 19th in the United States, and first in Indiana!

IU has the most internationally engaged student body in the state with a record of nearly 4,000 students who studied abroad in the 2015 academic year, the most recent year for which there are figures. IU is also the state’s flagship for international studies through its School of Global and International Studies and the efforts of many other schools.

Over the last 10 years, IU has been successfully carrying out a massive program to renovate all its major buildings and eliminate its backlog of deferred maintenance on a scale few public universities have achieved. Nearly all of this is to be completed by the Bicentennial. In addition, private philanthropy and other sources have allowed major new buildings to be constructed to support many of IU’s new academic initiatives, while providing expanded and enhanced facilities to support some of IU’s most outstanding academic programs. Last year, we exceeded $2 billion in renovation and construction over the previous 10 years with over 100 major projects completed, underway, or planned.

And IU is the state’s philanthropic powerhouse in public higher education. Last year, we set yet another record for philanthropic giving of $462.3 million, the highest in the state, on top of records for the last four years. This forms part of IU’s Bicentennial Campaign, our first ever all-campus university-wide campaign, and one of the largest campaigns ever at a public university. It has the highly ambitious goal of raising $2.5 billion by IU’s Bicentennial in 2020. It is well ahead of schedule due to the generosity of over 270,000 alumni and others—and we will be making some major announcements concerning it later this month at the mid-campaign celebration.

The campaign total so far includes gifts to endow 147 new chairs and professorships— a remarkable 33 percent increase, and about 3,500 new undergraduate and graduate scholarships and fellowships—an equally remarkable increase of approximately 27 percent. And the campaign is far from finished! But at their core, what these numbers actually represent are the recruitment and retention of some of the best faculty in the world, and enabling students from low income backgrounds to come to IU who could not otherwise have afforded to pursue a degree.

And as I am addressing the University Faculty Council, I want to make particular mention of the faculty and staff campaign that is part of the Bicentennial Campaign. Here, an extraordinary $126 million has been given by nearly 14,000 faculty and staff members. I want to particularly acknowledge the energetic and enthusiastic work of a former co-chair of this body, Jim Sherman, for his work in encouraging faculty to make gifts to the campaign. I know many people in this room have given to this campaign, and I want to thank them all most sincerely for their remarkable generosity, as well as thank all of the alumni, friends, faculty, staff, students, parents, companies, foundations, and other organizations who support IU philanthropically. As I repeatedly say, philanthropy serves as one of the great pillars of the American system of higher education, making it the best in the world.

Beyond the Campus Boundaries: Online Education

I mentioned earlier that only about 25 percent of Indiana’s resident population holds four-year or advanced degrees, ranking the state in the bottom quintile nationally. And I noted that education was a key to a prosperous society with a high quality of life. However, about 22 percent—nearly 750,000 Hoosiers—have some college education but have not graduated. Helping more of them graduate could rapidly increase the percentage of degree holders in the population, opening up to them new careers, promotions, and economic opportunity. But most cannot return as traditional full-time students as they now have jobs and families. Others who graduated many years ago would like to complete new degrees that will also open up new career prospects for them. Indiana University is committed to helping as many of them as possible earn degrees, and online education is a lifeline to higher education and the hope of graduating.

Similarly, for the more traditional IU student who wants to graduate faster or have more convenient access to courses given the schedule of their other classes or work, online education provides an exceptional solution to this issue. The diverse and highly qualified new student body that we have welcomed at IU this fall includes a large majority who were “born digital.” They have known digital technology their entire lives, and they have the strongest expectation that we will be taking full advantage of the newest technologies, tools, and expertise as part of an IU education.

Ever since access to computers became widely available around 50 years ago, educators have understood and been excited by the vast potential that information technology has to positively transform and enhance the whole process of teaching and learning. In my long career in IT, I have seen many waves of progress in this area as new ideas were born and obstacles surmounted. And I am very proud that in each of these waves, Indiana University has been a national and international leader.

Today, Indiana University is the state’s online education powerhouse for four-year and graduate online education. Our enormously successful online initiative, IU Online, was created over five years ago and involves faculty on all IU campuses. It is truly an extension of IU’s faculty and curriculum, and it thus builds on our worldwide reputation and our highly diverse curricular offerings. It involves an online educational experience that is a direct extension of the best of traditional classroom instruction, including two-way, personalized interactions between teachers and students, true interactions among students, small class sizes, and instructional materials properly suited to the subject matter.

This fall at IU, we have seen a record 5,066 students enrolled in more than 115 online degrees and over 2,000 online courses that are offered by IU, a 4 percent increase over last year's record, and among the largest numbers in the nation.

The outcome is even more impressive when one considers that many more students are currently engaged in educational programs that include both a high-quality residential and an online component. A remarkable 29,000 IU students—nearly a third of our total student body—are enrolled in at least one online course, a figure that has surged dramatically in the past four years, and those courses are accounting for more than one-tenth of all credit hours across the university and matching revenue, larger in total than any of our regional campuses.

This year, our students are benefitting from access to an IU education through still more new degrees available through IU Online, including master’s degrees in philanthropic studies, product stewardship, and information technology management; bachelor’s degrees in applied health sciences, informatics, and medical imaging technology; and a doctoral degree in occupational therapy.

While we develop these programs, the education our students receive online remains authentically IU. IU Online courses, materials and degree programs are created and taught by IU faculty, coordinated by our faculty and academic administrators across multiple campuses, and subject to the same rigorous university processes and approval procedures that our traditional academic programs go through. And this type of quality innovation is not new to us. Our acclaimed Kelley School of Business began demonstrating this essential approach in 1999 when it launched the Kelley Direct MBA, which continues today as one of the top-ranked online MBA degrees in the nation and beyond.

We continue to recognize that the core value of any great teaching and research university will always be found in the personal experience. Indeed, our faculty and staff, our facilities, our traditions, and our heritage are our greatest assets, and IU Online extends them beyond our statewide network of IU campuses. Ultimately, we are blending these resources with opportunities afforded by new technologies to create the best possible instruction while offering students more flexibility to shorten their time-to-degree and find new educational opportunities. Indeed, it is fair to say that this pattern reflects the likely future of higher education, in which digital textbooks, academic resources, research tools, and classrooms blend ever more seamlessly with the in-person experience. In all of these areas, IU is at the forefront in providing the best technology with the best individual experience.

Research that Benefits the State, the Nation, and the World: The Grand Challenges Program

As one of the nation’s leading public research universities, Indiana University has, in recent years, made powerful investments in research designed to inform public policy; to establish new protocols for the prevention, treatment, control, and cure of disease, pain, and suffering; and to contribute to the quality of life in Indiana and state and national prosperity through the creation of new industries and jobs.

One of the most visible of these investments is IU’s Grand Challenges Program, which is funding major multidisciplinary research projects aimed at finding solutions to the “grand challenges” of our time—solutions that will provide major improvements in the quality of life for the people of the state of Indiana and beyond.

In June of 2016, I was very pleased to announce that the Precision Health Initiative was selected as the recipient of the first round of funding from the program. Led by Principal Investigator Distinguished Professor Anantha Shekhar of the IU School of Medicine, the Precision Health Initiative has the dramatic goal of curing at least one cancer and one childhood disease, as well as finding ways to prevent one chronic illness and one neurodegenerative disease. In May of this year, I was also pleased to announce the second project funded through the Grand Challenges Program: Prepared for Environmental Change. Led by Distinguished Professor Ellen Ketterson of the Department of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences, IU Bloomington, this project, which is backed by a broad, bipartisan coalition of government, business, nonprofit, and community leaders, will help our communities track and prepare for environmental change, rather than responding after the fact.

This morning, Vice President Fred Cate and I were joined by Indiana’s Governor Eric Holcomb and the CEO and President of IU Health, Dennis Murphy, to announce that our third Grand Challenge will be Responding to the Addictions Crisis. Distinguished Professor Robin Newhouse, Dean of the IU School of Nursing, will serve as the initiative’s Principal Investigator.

As you know, drug addiction is a major public health crisis that is taking an increasingly severe toll on the health of far too many Hoosiers and devastating communities throughout Indiana. Some 5.3 percent of Indiana’s residents—or 286,000 Hoosiers—report having engaged in non-medical use of opioid pain relievers.1 Poisoning is now the leading cause of injury death in Indiana, and drug overdoses cause more than nine out of 10 poisoning deaths.2

In 2014, more than 1,100 Hoosiers died from drug poisoning, marking a 500 percent increase since 1999, and placing Indiana 15th nationwide for drug overdose fatalities.3 In fact, drug overdoses have risen so sharply in Indiana that they overtook the number of motor vehicle deaths in 2008. The situation is so severe nationally that it is expected to result in a decrease in the average life expectancy of Americans—something usually only associated with countries ravaged by war, famine, or epidemics.

Through this vitally important initiative, IU will partner with Governor Holcomb and the state government; IU Health; Eskenazi Health; and with other organizations to urgently address the pervasive and grave substance abuse crisis in Indiana and throughout the United States. This initiative will be the nation’s largest and most comprehensive state-based response ask to the opioid addiction crisis, and the largest anywhere led by a university.

Governor Holcomb has identified addressing the substance abuse crisis as a key priority for the state, and has identified aligning the resources of the state, including its universities, as a critical step in achieving that priority. IU’s efforts to respond to the addiction crisis will be aligned in this way with state and with federal government efforts, and will include collaboration with the Indiana congressional delegation, local communities, industry, NGOs, patient groups, and many others. IU greatly appreciates the opportunity to partner with Governor Holcomb, the State of Indiana, IU Health, Eskenazi Health, and with others on this vital initiative.

This new Grand Challenge initiative will have a budget of $50 million over five years. Of this, around $13 million will be immediately deployed over the next six months in over 10 separate projects in the following areas.

  • Address key issues in substance abuse prevention, early intervention, treatment, recovery, and enforcement.
  • Expand education, training, and certification to address the significant shortage of addictions professionals, not just in medicine, but across health care, social work, and related professions.
  • Bring to bear IU’s considerable expertise in data collection and analysis to turn data into actionable intelligence for health providers, government agencies, employers, and community organizations.
  • Deploy expertise in policy analysis, economics, and legal reform to reduce the availability of opioids in medicine cabinets and on the street, and to inform decisions made by our state’s elected officials.
  • Focus IU’s basic, applied, and translational science on a better understanding of addiction mechanisms and expand research into non- or less-addictive treatments for pain to reduce the demand for illicit substances, and ultimately reduce the prevalence of substance abuse disorders.
  • Focus on community and workforce development, and expand IU’s partnerships with communities to enhance their responses to the addiction crisis.

Additional projects will be identified through two further rounds of solicitation over the next two years. This initiative will also fund the hiring of 10 new IU faculty members, various other scientists and technicians, and the work of dozens of students each year on IU’s Bloomington, Indianapolis, and regional campuses.

This initiative will also leverage IU’s extensive state-wide footprint, including the IU School of Medicine and all of its eight regional medical education centers around the state, as well as all of IU’s other health science schools and IU’s regional campuses. It will bring together IU’s formidable and extensive clinical, research, and educational capabilities, working in partnership with IU Health and others, to achieve maximum impact in addressing this urgent state and national crisis.

It will also leverage the vital expertise concerning these problems in other units and schools within the university, including the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the Maurer and McKinney Schools of Law, and the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in Bloomington’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Indiana University is certainly not immune to this crisis. We are all hearing almost daily about more deaths and impacts of this devastating crisis. It affects IU faculty, staff, students, alumni, and their families, friends, and neighbors. People are dying. We must act! Now is the time to bring to bear the resources of all IU campuses to help address and mitigate this destructive and deadly public health crisis.

Assuring Pervasive Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Undergraduate teaching is at the heart of great public universities. It is the reason that most students attend the university, and it is the most immediate way in which we fulfill our missions of creating opportunity, of building the foundations for personally and professionally rewarding lives, and of educating an active, informed, and productive citizenry. Teaching is not a burden or distraction; it is—together with research and engagement—what we do as an institution of higher learning.

IU also serves the state, the nation, and the broader world by embracing the values that underpin a liberal undergraduate education. These values are at the core of an IU education. It is an education in the depth and breadth of human knowledge. The skills fostered by a liberal education—critical thinking, problem solving skills, creativity and the abilities to communicate clearly, remain flexible, and to respond quickly, thoughtfully and ethically in a world of rapid change—are also at the heart of IU’s teaching values.

The term “institution of higher learning” is not coincidental. Teaching is meaningful only if it results in learning. The statement and measurement of learning outcomes—which require an explicit connection between teaching and learning—are now a nearly ubiquitous aspect of accreditation. Students are not the passive objects of instruction. They must be an active part of their education—whether in lecture halls, seminar rooms, laboratories, studios, student teaching, service learning settings, or internships and externships. Students must therefore be an integral part of any consideration of excellence in teaching.

IU already invests very heavily in teaching and learning.

  • Every IU campus is home to a center for teaching and learning, where pedagogical and instructional technologies consulting is available for all faculty and instructors.
  • Over more than 20 years, The Faculty Academy on Excellence in Teaching (FACET) has grown as a powerful collective force for academic excellence and innovation at IU.
  • Enterprise-wide educational IT systems improve the classroom experience and learning processes for IU students and faculty.
  • IU recognizes outstanding teaching through the presentation of Trustees Teaching Awards, school and campus teaching awards, and a number of university-wide teaching awards.
  • And learning is a major object of research and experimentation in IU’s schools of education and informatics, departments of psychology, centers for teaching and learning, and elsewhere within the university.

The recently launched website, teaching.iu.edu, is a major step forward in gathering in one place and making readily available, IU’s many resources. FACET, which hosts the site—as well as the campus centers for teaching and learning, and UITS, who were instrumental in its development—will continue to update and expand the site as a central resource for teaching and learning.

Not only have we invested in teaching and learning, it has been a prominent university-wide area of focus. I addressed the central importance of teaching and learning in my third State of the University Address, in February, 2010, where I announced the New Directions in Teaching and Learning initiative, charging each IU campus with renewing its commitment to the quality and currency of the education that they provide to IU students.

The IU Principles of Excellence, which I presented in my fourth State of the University Address in September of 2010 here on the IUPUI campus, state the centrality of student success, and the employment of “innovative modes of teaching and learning” in achieving that success.

And The Bicentennial Strategic Plan for Indiana University, approved by the Trustees in 2014, includes two key teaching-focused action items that call on the deans to improve the quality of learning in their schools and degree programs, and encourage broader use and development of, IU’s existing resources in instructional development.

But we must continue this momentum. While our commitment to teaching excellence has been a continual theme at the highest levels, it is critical to assure that commitment is continually renewed as we demonstrate that we value teaching as a core mission of the university. Excellent teaching doesn’t just happen. It can be taught, learned, modeled, practiced, improved, and updated. It must be valued and nourished. We must translate IU’s educational commitment, investment, and research into pervasive teaching excellence. All IU students should graduate feeling that consistently excellent instruction was the heart of their college experience.

Hence, in the time left leading up to the Bicentennial, we will redouble our efforts to assure pervasive excellence in teaching and learning, in order to underscore the central importance of excellent teaching at IU and to strengthen teaching and learning on all IU campuses. To these ends, I am announcing today seven new initiatives.

First, I ask Executive Vice Presidents Lauren Robel, Nasser Paydar, and John Applegate to immediately initiate a university-wide review of all of IU’s campus and university-wide programs that support teaching and learning. Building on New Directions in Teaching and Learning, this review should examine what we are doing now, what is working well, what can be improved, what opportunities are there for leveraging and restructuring these programs to make them more effective and efficient, and what new resources, including space, might be needed. As well, it should look at what kinds of programs and spaces will be needed in the future, which will undoubtedly be even more dominated by pervasive information technology. The review committee should be comprised of FACET and other faculty members, staff of the centers for teaching and learning, staff from UITS, and students. The committee’s report should be submitted to the executive vice presidents no later than May 31, 2018, and after appropriate consultation, they will take appropriate actions in response by September 30, 2018.

Second, once this first report is complete, I ask the deans of all schools (or regional campuses where appropriate) to work with campus leadership to carry out next academic year a similar review of their programs for assuring and regularly renewing the pervasive use of best practices in teaching and learning in their respective schools, and assessing the effectiveness of these practices. These reviews should specifically detail the measures that are taken to assure that first-generation and at-risk students receive the support they need to persist and complete their degrees. School reports should be submitted to the Academic Leadership Council (ALC) by May 31, 2019 who will review the reports, and prepare a summary for university-wide distribution of new and innovative ideas that could be more widely adopted during our Bicentennial year.

Third, I ask the leaders of all campuses with schools and departments that conduct research into learning—for example, the IU schools of education, the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at IUB, and the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering and others—to identify opportunities at IU for translating their excellent research on learning into improved instructional practices at IU. Each campus should compile such material into a report for the ALC by May 31, 2018. The ALC will then consider the feasibility of deployment of some of these practices across IU.

Fourth, I ask that the Executive Vice Presidents, in conjunction with the UFC and others as appropriate, explore the idea of creating a new academic designation to be called something like “Master Teacher,” as a way of recognizing the very finest of IU’s teachers. This designation could be similar, in some ways, to the rank of Distinguished Professor, and might carry with it some of the funding benefits of that rank. As with the rank of Distinguished Professor, it would also only be granted sparingly and after extensive evaluation, including external peer review. I ask for a progress report on these discussions by May 31, 2018.

Fifth, IU has many teaching awards for widely varied purposes that are presented to our faculty who are nominated by their peers as outstanding teachers. But we need to ask: do we have the right awards for the right purposes? Do we presently have too many? Should some be consolidated? Are the monetary awards that go with them appropriate? Are we selective enough in how often we award them? Do we recognize the winners of these awards appropriately? I ask that the Office of University Honors and Awards to consider these and any other relevant questions, in consultation with the FACET leadership and the chairs of the various award selection committees, and let me have a report on this matter by February 1, 2018.

Sixth, during this academic year, the Bloomington, IUPUI, and regional campuses will establish programs of small, so-called “prototyping” grants for full-time faculty, for internal experimentation with new techniques in teaching and learning. Special consideration should be given to applications from full-time faculty members whose primary responsibility is instruction. Successful techniques will then be reviewed for wider deployment in the university. Details of these programs will be released soon.

Finally, I ask the UFC and other faculty governance organizations to work with campus academic leadership to consider developing new, well-defined, rigorous pathways for tenure and promotion based specifically on excellence in teaching. The pathways should be evidence-based, use multiple types of evidence of excellence, consider evidence of student learning, and be peer reviewed. I also ask that they consider changes to the non-tenure-track ranks to provide stronger career paths that recognize the professionalism of these important and growing segments of IU’s instructional community. In this connection, UFC might also consider other full-time faculty ranks to recognize long-term commitment to excellence and mentorship in teaching. I would like a report back as to progress on this matter by May 31, 2018.

IU Collections: Leveraging University Assets for Greater Use, Development, Exhibition, and Appreciation

I am going to conclude by addressing a subject that has never, I believe, ever been addressed by a president of Indiana University, certainly not for decades, and this concerns the university’s collections.

Almost since the dawn of human civilization, human beings have collected objects— artifacts of their own making, or objects from the natural world. Humans have collected objects for their aesthetic value; as memories of people and events past and present; as records of their philosophical, religious, scientific, and literary achievements; and to illustrate their understanding of the natural world and universe. Today, these objects also include digital objects that were created in a digital form or are digital copies made for purposes of dissemination or preservation.

All great civilizations have celebrated collections which reflect human cultural or scientific achievement. Think of the Uffizi in Florence, the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, the British Library in London, and the HathiTrust Digital Library. And some collections chronicle some of the most lamentable episodes in human history. Think of the Yad Vashem museum of the holocaust in Jerusalem and the account of slavery in the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. The list of great collections is all but endless, as is their diversity.

Great universities are known for their great collections as well. University collections are vital tools for scholars and scientists from nearly all disciplines. They inspire students and are vital parts of their learning and understanding. And they draw the people from beyond the university to view and study them. They have been accumulated, in some cases, for centuries, and can contain unique and irreplaceable material of enormous value. Though not always thought of in these terms, they can be among an institutions most valuable resources.

Indiana University is home to some very well-known and heavily used collections—the main ones being the Herman B Wells Library and the other campus libraries, the Lilly Library, the Eskenazi Museum of Art, and the Kinsey Collection. To this, more recently has been added the digitized collections of hundreds of thousands of rare and scholarly valuable video and audio items, to which will soon be added the digitized collections of IU’s superb film collections totaling in the tens of thousands of films. This will both preserve and will make available this material to scholars world-wide. All this has been made possible by IU’s bold and visionary Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative, which I first announced in my 2013 State of the University address.

But IU has many more collections of material objects. IU possesses upwards of 50 material objects collections across all campuses, though most are on the Bloomington campus. They serve research, scholarly, teaching, public outreach, and historic preservation missions for the university and the broader community. These collections range in size, content, and use. Some have not been adequately inventoried, but it is estimated that together they contain around 30 million individual material objects if we include books.

Historically, most of these collections have operated within varying departments or administrative units on each of IU’s campuses, with little to no attention from the university and with limited university-wide policies governing them. As a result, and through no fault of those who oversee and curate them, a number of these collections are underdeveloped, under-appreciated, under-utilized, and in need of professional curation and maintenance.

Together, these lesser-known collections constitute a resource of enormous potential scholarly, educational, and cultural importance for the IU community. They could become even more important to IU’s research and education mission opening up numerous new opportunities for study, scholarship, and exhibitions.

So, I am announcing today that I am charging the Office of the Vice President for Research with developing a plan, in consultation with campus academic leadership, to ensure that all the university’s collections are properly housed, maintained, utilized, and curated, as well as ensuring that these very important and valuable assets become better known, more fully utilized in IU’s research and teaching missions, and more fully appreciated by the IU community and the general public. Our goal will be to make major progress in achieving this by the Bicentennial.

Our overall vision for IU’s collections, then, is that they have a clear and coherent focus; that their mission be consistent with at least one aspect of the university’s mission; that they be professionally managed, curated, and catalogued; that they be publicly and broadly accessible (when applicable); that they are appropriately maintained and preserved; and that they be guided by robust accession and deaccession policies.

Oversight for this process will be the responsibility of a new senior position in the Office of the Vice President for Research who will report to the Vice President and work closely with campus academic leadership, the Vice President for Information Technology and CIO and the Dean of University Libraries. The search for this person will commence immediately. The person in this position would also convene and chair a Research and Teaching Collections Council, with membership to be announced soon.

In order to provide greater visibility and accessibility for all the university’s collections, I am also directing the Office of the Vice President for Research to begin immediate development of a unified website that collects together all the websites and other material for each individual university collection. This would be, as it were, "a collection of collections." This should be operational by the end of this semester.

And on the Bloomington campus, the Provost, the Vice President for Research and I will initiate a review of the status and future of the natural history and sciences collections, and of the anthropology and human sciences collections, to consider their missions and how best they might be better aligned together. More details will be announced soon.

Finally, on the recommendation of the IU Bicentennial Steering Committee and others—as a special Bicentennial project, we are exploring the feasibility of developing a Museum of Indiana University. Located on the Bloomington campus, such a museum would chronicle and showcase Indiana University’s history. This museum would draw from the existing archival holdings of papers, objects, and collections from nearly 200 years of IU’s history. The Museum would also collaborate with other museums and galleries on all IU campuses to feature rotating exhibitions, and to serve as an informational hub for IU and a prime center for visitors, students, parents, and new members of the IU community.

Conclusion: Remembering the Past, Building a Brighter Future

As the observance of Indiana University’s Bicentennial draws ever closer, members of the university community around the state and around the world will remember and celebrate the remarkable history, great traditions, and matchless heritage that have made IU what it is today.

Guided by the forward-looking Bicentennial Strategic Plan, we will also pursue bold priorities for the future in order to keep IU on the course of greatness in its third century.

And so, all of us at Indiana University will, in the coming years:

  • work to build upon IU’s worldwide reputation for excellence;
  • redouble our efforts to ensure pervasive excellence in teaching and learning;
  • bring the university’s formidable resources to bear on the greatest challenges facing humanity;
  • work to ensure that IU’s unique and important scholarly collections are more fully utilized in IU’s research and teaching missions and more fully appreciated and used by the public; 
  • and ensure that Indiana University continues to stand for truth and is a community whose members embrace dispassionate rationality and act ethically.

Central to all of these efforts, as they have been for nearly 200 years, will be the work of IU’s outstanding faculty members, the leadership of dedicated administrators and staff, and the efforts of the hundreds of thousands of alumni and friends around the globe who support Indiana University’s missions to improve the world for future generations.

Thank you very much.

Source Notes

1. "Opioids Rising: the Wide and Tragic Reach of Indiana’s Growing Addiction Epidemic," Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, 2016, 1.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.