A University Poised for a Dynamic Future

Franklin Hall, Presidents Hall

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie delivers his final State of the University address in Presidents Hall at IU Bloomington.   Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University


Thank you, Professor (John) Walbridge, for that kind introduction. Let me express my most grateful thanks to the current members of the University Faculty Council, its executive committee, and its leadership, especially your fellow co-chairs—and all those who have served on the council during my time as president—for their strong commitment to shared governance and for helping to make the council an effective faculty voice on the major issues confronting this university, and for the generous resolution of commendation the UFC unanimously passed at their last meeting about my time as IU president. Let me also thank them for the equally generous resolution of commendation, also passed unanimously, to acknowledge the outstanding work of the Academic Leadership Council Executive Committee consisting of Executive Vice Presidents Lauren Robel, Nasser Paydar, John Applegate, and Jay Hess.

I am also very pleased to welcome the members of the Indiana University Board of Trustees who are joining us virtually.

It is a great though bittersweet pleasure to present to my fellow faculty members and colleagues, and to all members of the broader university community, my 14th and final annual State of the University Address.

It has been my enormous privilege and honor to serve as president of this great university for more than 14 years, and to have served in senior positions here for 24 years—more than a third of my life. And I am immensely proud of all that has been accomplished over the period I have been president.

But, as I said when I announced my retirement from the presidency last August, none of what Indiana University has achieved over the last 14 years has been a one-person show. These accomplishments are the collective product of the hard and unremitting work of IU's outstanding senior leaders, of successive Boards of Trustees who are responsible for the overall and long-term welfare of the institution, of the superb faculty who have embraced change and made it happen, of engaged and talented students who have and will continue to go on to become leaders in their chosen fields, and of exceptional staff, whose professionalism and dedication have been the linchpin of so many of our successes. I am enormously grateful to all of you.

I am also honored and grateful to have led IU through its bicentennial year, and I am especially thankful to those led by Bicentennial Director Kelly Kish, whose dedicated efforts allowed us to complete most of the activities associated with this historic commemoration and celebration of IU's first 200 years in spite of the pandemic.

The university is now undergoing a time of transition. This is not only related to my retirement from the presidency and the welcoming of President-Elect Pamela Whitten, who will be the first woman to lead this great institution—but also with the stepping down from her administrative roles of Executive Vice President and Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel after nearly a decade of extraordinarily distinguished service in these and previous roles—and with other transitions among the university’s senior leadership.

And, of course, as IU entered its third century, it almost immediately faced the momentous and daunting challenges brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the gravest public health challenge that this country and the world have faced in a century. The pandemic has made this last year among the most challenging times that IU has ever faced in its 200 years of existence. I have addressed the IU community many times and in various forms about IU’s response to the pandemic and our comprehensive public health policy that have, despite several hyperbolic predictions, allowed IU’s campuses to remain open and made them among the safest places to be in the entire state. So, I will not recount those details today.

But I do want to express my most sincere thanks, at the outset, to all the members of the IU community for the strength and resolve they have demonstrated over these difficult 14 months. Across all of our campuses—and when we needed it the most—IU’s students, faculty, and staff exhibited creativity, courage, kindness, perseverance, personal responsibility, and an unwavering concern for others.

And I want to extend special thanks to the members of IU's expert Restart Committee, chaired by Executive Vice President and Dean of the IU School of Medicine Jay Hess, and I want to give special mention to IU Vice President and General Counsel Jackie Simmons, who is serving on this committee, and who is helping to successfully navigate IU’s way through never-ending legal complexities. The committee has met almost constantly, and last spring, delivered the first of their crucial science and data-driven recommendations that served as the foundation of IU's comprehensive public health strategy that followed, and which allowed us to conduct in-person instruction and research last fall—and during the current spring semester—in the safest manner possible. They released their recommendations for the summer just last week.

IU's Medical Response Team, led by doctors Cole Beeler, Aaron Carroll, Lana Dbeibo, and Adrian Gardner, also deserves special thanks for the superb job it has done in running IU's mitigation testing, symptomatic testing, contact tracing, and vaccination programs. These ongoing programs together constitute one of the most comprehensive, robust, and efficient testing and tracing programs at any college or university in the country. These programs and the people who have led and implemented them have been critical in helping IU successfully weather the pandemic and we are all grateful to them for these efforts.

A watershed moment for Indiana University 

The traditional purpose of this address by the Indiana University President to the UFC and the broader IU community and beyond, is to report on, as its title says, the state of the university over the previous year—its successes, where it fell short of expectations, and opportunities and challenges that lay ahead.

As this is my last state of the university address, I would like to depart a little from this tradition and instead, with your indulgence, survey all that has been accomplished over the last 14 years and address the present state of the university.

In short, even though we are emerging from a pandemic, the state of the university is strong. In fact, it is hard to identify a time when it has been in a better state. IU offers an excellent and affordable education on campuses around the state to students from all backgrounds from Indiana and beyond. Extensive new, contemporary and relevant degree programs and fields of study, both in-person or on-line, are now available following the most extensive academic restructuring that IU has ever seen. The student body has never been more diverse and is now more diverse than the state of Indiana itself. Student debt is declining and financial aid is at record levels. Philanthropy has reached unprecedented levels. The university’s fiscal position is strong. Research is being funded at record levels. More of this intellectual property than ever is being turned into new products and companies through a bold new entrepreneurial spirit within IU. New facilities to support research and education abound on all campuses. Infrastructure across all campuses has never been in better repair. The creative and preforming arts are flourishing. Our vast, unique and invaluable collections are being brought to the forefront of IU’s scholarly enterprise in new and renovated facilities. Information technology at IU defines the cutting edge for other universities as it has for decades. IU has never been more engaged in the health and welfare of the people of Indiana through the health sciences and IU Health. We are among the country’s top leaders in international engagement and scholarship. And—we have a winning football team!

All of this represents 14 years of relentless hard work by hundreds and thousands at IU addressing scores of problems and issues, some previously thought intractable, striving all the time for ever greater excellence. To all of them a great debt is owed.

But we have reached a watershed moment. For the scale and success of what has been achieved have prepared Indiana University to take the next bold step forward to join the very top ranks of the Big Ten and the AAU by building on the excellence achieved over the last 14 years and striving to build even more. This is the opportunity and the challenge that lies tantalizingly within the grasp of IU.

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, Indiana University is superbly positioned to help lead Indiana’s efforts in this regard by building on all that has been done to bring us to this point. The federal government and Congress are moving rapidly to approve such investments and this opportunity is fast approaching.

But, while we are necessarily immersed in the immediate challenges and issues of the day, we must never lose sight of the fact that we are heirs to one of history’s oldest forms of human institution, nor of the fundamental missions that all of them have had over this period. The history of universities goes back over 25 centuries, and they have always had, in some form, three fundamental missions: the creation of knowledge (that is, research, scholarship and innovation), the dissemination of knowledge (that is, education, teaching and learning), and the preservation of knowledge.

Starting with IU’s "Principles of Excellence," and through the "Bicentennial Strategic Plan," and numerous other comprehensive and broad ranging strategic planning efforts, we have tried to ensure that these three fundamental missions have always been fully reflected in all of these documents and plans.

So, in my address today, I will, as I said, briefly survey all that has been accomplished over the last 14 years, while relating all of this to the fundamental and enduring purposes of a great university.

Ensuring affordability, accessibility, and student success

The ultimate aim of IU’s teaching and learning mission is to ensure the success of our students. Toward this end, we must ensure that an IU education is not only excellent, but also accessible and affordable to every citizen in the state, no matter where they come from, no matter what their background, and no matter who they are.

Achieving these goals has been one of IU’s highest priorities during my time as president, and I am enormously pleased with the progress we have made. We have kept an IU education affordable with tuition increases at historically low levels. At IU Bloomington, the average annual tuition increase over the last three budget biennia has been only 1.3 percent—below the average rate of inflation during that period. Net in-state tuition at IU Bloomington is the second lowest in the Big 10. IUPUI and the regional campuses also remain highly affordable compared to their peers. The regional campuses have maintained tuition rates that are lowest among four-year publics in the state. The rates have been standardized across all the regional campuses, which enhances inter-campus transferability and supports collaborative program expansion. The implementation of banded, or flat-rate, tuition has enabled students to take all of the credits they need for on-time graduation at the same, predictable cost, contributing to increases in four-year graduation rates and student loan debt reduction.

Generous philanthropic support for scholarships and fellowships has been a vital component of affordability, and it will continue to be in the future. Such support in recent years has allowed IU to dramatically increase the amount of financial aid it provides to students. IU gift aid for resident undergraduate students has increased by a remarkable 175 percent between 2007-08 and 2019-20. More broadly, 66 percent of IU students received gift aid in 2019-20 from federal, state, institutional, or private sources, up from 62 percent six years prior. Up until a decade ago, all financial aid at IUPUI was merit-based. In the last decade, IUPUI has grown need-based aid from zero to more than $8 million. As a result, the percentage of new beginners receiving aid has more than doubled, increasing from 36 percent to 77 percent last year, and student debt has steadily declined.

IU has also pioneered path-breaking award-winning student financial literacy programs. These have become national models and, in conjunction with our focus on administering financial aid, have resulted in major savings to students. Since the founding in 2011-2012 of what is now known as IU’s Office of Financial Wellness and Education, student loan borrowing at IU has decreased by a huge $140.6 million, or 21.6 percent. These policies and programs continue to have a major impact on student debt. Nearly 50 percent of all IU students now graduate with no debt and another 37 percent with debt of less than $30,000, for a total of 86 percent.

Greater numbers of IU students have persisted to graduation, as reflected in our recent record numbers of graduates. It is estimated that during the current academic year, IU will grant a record of more than 24,200 degrees, surpassing the previous record of just under 24,000 in 2018-19. This represents an increase of 31 percent over the number of degrees awarded in 2007-08.

Moreover, more than 308,000 IU degrees will have been awarded over the last 14 years, with more than 212,000 of these being earned by Indiana residents. IU educates more Indiana residents, by far, than any other college or university in the state. Sixty percent of these degrees have been granted in STEM and business disciplines.

University-wide, more than 50,000 degrees have been earned by students of color in the last 14 years, including a record of more than 5,400 during the current academic year, which is nearly 23 percent of the graduating class. This reflects a major increase in the diversity of IU’s student body over the last 14 years, about which I will say more later in this address.

And the majority of the more than 308,000 degrees that have been earned over the last 14 years have been earned by women, whose numbers have grown each year during this period. Women have earned more than 172,500 IU degrees over this period, and 56 percent of degree recipients during this academic year are women.

These figures clearly reflect the success of our efforts to ensure that our academic programs remain accessible and affordable to students from all backgrounds, and that they are highly relevant and responsive to the most important needs of our students and our state's leading employers.

Beginning on Friday of this week, we will see the much-anticipated return of IU’s in-person Commencement ceremonies on all campuses, where, among many other achievements, we will celebrate the Class of 2021’s record numbers of graduates on the IUPUI and IU Kokomo campuses and university-wide record numbers of master’s degree recipients. The final 2021 Commencement ceremony at IUPUI on May 15 will the 136th IU Commencement over which I have presided.

We have also worked over the last 14 years to enhance the academic quality of IU's student body. In 2007, the IU Bloomington incoming class had a median GPA of 3.59. This has increased steadily over the years, with the 2020-21 incoming class having a median GPA of 3.87, the highest in IU history. Other campuses have seen similar increases in academic quality.

IU provides extensive services in all aspects of student life on all campuses. It has two goals with these services—that they be the best and most relevant possible and that they be delivered as cost efficiently as possible and at scale. Over the last 14 years, student services on all campuses have been thoroughly reviewed and overhauled with these goals in mind.

IU has moved student administrative functions into a shared services model that removes duplication and siloing across the campuses and reduces operating costs through increased efficiency. These student administrative functions have included admissions, financial aid, student records, student financials processing, system-wide support functions, security, and training and production support. It has involved new initiatives to ensure common technology platforms across all campuses, system-wide technologies including modern customer relationship management (CRM), electronic document management, and enhancements to business intelligence, security, and access.

The shared services project for student operations is one of the first to be implemented for a multi-campus institution, and IU has also been nationally recognized for it. Estimated annual savings from implementing this model at IU is over $8 million annually.

Academic advising is a crucial student service to help ensure that students finish their degrees and graduate, that they graduate on time, and that they are assisted in the transition between the various years of their degree studies. The improvement of these services has been a major focus of effort on all campuses.

In 2014, IU established the Office of Completion and Student Success (OCSS) to coordinate these efforts on all campuses. The office has overseen the implementation of best practices in student advising and faculty development to increase student success, especially for our first-generation and underrepresented minority students. In the last five years alone, they have resulted in an improved advising infrastructure across our campuses, with specialized training to advise leaders and new advisors, to embed coaching skills in advising, and to further the professionalization of advising. Additionally, new technology tools have been implemented to support students to graduation, as well as improved tools for advising records, appointment scheduling, and student outreach.

All of these efforts have borne fruit. The six-year graduation rate overall at IU has grown from 58 percent to 64 percent. On the regional campuses, which have traditionally had lower graduation rates owing to their students’ educational background and socio-economic status, it has risen from 24 percent to 38 percent, a remarkable improvement. Our students of color are also graduating at increased rates, with their six-year rate rising from 39 percent to 51 percent over this time across all campuses.

Career advising services to advise students about careers and to help them find jobs are equally important. They have been thoroughly reviewed and restructured on all campuses. A major step forward in this area has been the implementation of a new software platform, Handshake, that allows students to see all potential employers and employers to see all potential student job candidates rather than this being siloed at the school or campus level. This will be complemented by the new Hire IU.edu portal that will enable employers to easily navigate IU’s complexity and find the right campus connection. These efforts are bearing fruit. For example, the career services offices in all schools at IU Bloomington have worked collectively to achieve an outstanding 92 percent employment rate for undergraduates on campus in the most recent year.

Student health services have also been expanded and improved on all campuses. Effective programs and services are in place to care for the mental and physical health of our students, including counseling and psychological services, sexual violence prevention and victim advocacy programs, programs to address incidences of bias, and programs to address food insecurity. The services in many of these areas have been particularly important and needed during the pandemic, which has put many IU students under considerable stress and strain.

And this is only the briefest overview of all that has been done over the last 14 years to ensure both the affordability and accessibility of an IU education, and that while students are at IU that they have the best and most relevant services available to them at all stages of their IU studies.

The most extensive academic restructuring in IU history

More than ten years ago, in my 2010 State of the University Address, I noted the vital importance of preserving and enhancing what I called the “academic core of the university”—the major schools based on the IU Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses, some with programs and degrees on both. I went on to note that there had been little major change in this core for many decades until the establishment of the School of Informatics by President Myles Brand in 1999.

In this address, I announced that I was establishing the "New Academic Directions Committee" to carry out a broad-ranging review of the academic core of the university. In my charge to the committee, I asked it to consider seven questions, but the two overarching questions were "Is IU offering the kinds of degrees and educational opportunities that one would expect of a university that aspires to be one of the finest universities of the 21st century?" and "Do the structure and organization of the academic units at IU allow the productivity of its faculty to be maximized in fulfilling the university’s educational, research and clinical mission?”

This committee presented its report to me in early 2011, and it was endorsed by the Board of Trustees in April of that year. From this report, a period of academic transformation followed, with the outstanding leadership initially of Provost Karen Hanson and Chancellor Charles Bantz, then Provost Lauren Robel, Chancellor Nasser Paydar, and Executive Vice President John Applegate. It represents change of a kind not seen for 100 years, when many of the major schools of the university were first established under President William Lowe Bryan. In less than 10 years, we have seen the establishment of 10 new schools:

  • the School of Public Health-Bloomington and the Fairbanks School of Public Health in Indianapolis—the first two schools of public health in Indiana, vital participants in the state and IU’s response to the pandemic and sorely needed in a state with some of the worst public health statistics of any state in the nation;
  • the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the first school of its kind in the nation;
  • the Media School, established in response to the rapidly evolving media and communication landscape;
  • the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, now home to a thriving new program in intelligent systems engineering;
  • the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, named in honor of two of Indiana and the nation’s most distinguished and respected statesmen;
  • the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design, focused, in part, on the modern architectural and design treasures of Columbus, Indiana;
  • two Schools of Education, one in Bloomington and one at IUPUI, both of which are now configured and organized to better focus on their distinctive missions; and
  • the School of Health and Human Sciences, now home to many professional health science programs.

Through these new schools, the other schools on these campuses, and the regional campuses, 589 new degree and certificate programs have been added at Indiana University since 2007. Let me repeat that—589 new degree and certificate programs that represent 589 new ways in which IU students can gain qualifications to enable them to embark on successful and satisfying careers. This figure also represents 44 percent of all new degree and certificate programs created by all public institutions in the state over this period. A total of 182 of these, or 30.9 percent of the total, are in STEM fields. Online collaborative programs have added 168 programs, a number of which are duplicated across multiple campuses, comprising 28.2 percent of new degree and certificate programs created since 2007.

The impetus behind each of these new schools and new degrees was the same—to provide our students with the most relevant educational opportunities possible so that they are positioned for success after graduation and to better allow faculty in these disciplines to engage in cutting edge research, scholarship, and teaching. The challenge going forward, then, will be to sustain and build upon these changes by ensuring that their academic excellence continues to grow.

Transforming IU's regional campuses

When I became president in 2007, IU’s regional campuses were an important, but in many ways under-appreciated, under-valued, and thus under-utilized resource of Indiana University. The decision in the early 1970s to encourage the campuses to, in effect, go their own ways may have been sensible at the time, especially as it came toward the beginning of a decades-long period of tremendous growth in higher education in the U.S. However, as the 21st century began, that period of growth was coming to an end, and the assumptions about assured enrollments and ever-increasing state support no longer held true. In this new environment, what had been a strategy for growth began to look more like neglect.

The extent to which the regional campuses had been disengaged from the broader university was made startlingly clear by the huge flood of 2008 at IU Northwest. As president, I did not become aware of it until days later, at a regularly scheduled meeting with the campus chancellor. While we were able to bring the full resources of the university immediately to bear on this situation, it made clear that systemic change was needed. It was also evident sight that had been lost of the common mission of the regional campuses, as principally teaching institutions with deep engagement with their communities and regions. In this role, they reach a very broad segment of Hoosier students and returning adult learners, and provide the excellent bachelors and professional masters-level education needed by students in their regions.

In 2010, I expanded the portfolio of John Applegate, then the vice president for planning and policy, to take responsibility for the regional campuses and to work with the campus chancellors and faculty to develop a common mission and vision for them. This became the starting point for the "Blueprint for Student Attainment," completed later in 2010, and which described a comprehensive program of collaboration among the campuses. Three standing organizations were formed to facilitate the communication and collaboration called for by the "Blueprint"—the Regional Campus Cabinet of the campus chancellors; the Regional Faculty Caucus of the presidents of the regional campus faculty governance bodies; and the Center for Regional Campus Excellence, comprising the regional campus vice chancellors for academic affairs—to assure the implementation of the new collaborative structure.

The collaborative structure envisioned by the "Blueprint for Student Attainment" grew broader and deeper, thanks to the hard work and commitment of all involved, including the regional campus faculty and staff. Many special-purpose or ad hoc regional campus groups have grown up, for example, to support enrollment, share data, develop online courses and degrees, or collaborate in particular disciplines. The annual Chancellors’ Leadership Summit further binds the campuses together. The faculty and staff of IU’s regional campus have gone from being strangers to being true colleagues.

The new reality was confirmed in the 2015 "Blueprint 2.0," which also served as the bicentennial strategic plan for the regional campuses. Its theme, “The Collaborative Imperative,” highlighted the increasing need to leverage scale and eliminate siloing where possible, while maintaining the distinctiveness and local responsiveness of each campus. Moreover, the growing stature of the regional campuses within Indiana University as a whole is reflected in the amendment of the University Faculty Council constitution to add one of the regional campus presidents as the third co-chair of UFC. Finally, the unprecedented philanthropic support for the regional campuses in the recently completed "For All Bicentennial Campaign" is proof of the widespread appreciation of the revitalization of the IU regional campuses. Clearly, the future of these campuses lies in closer connections with the broader university and never again to be distanced from it.

I mentioned that regional campuses are primarily teaching institutions and, hence, the importance of excellent teaching is particularly important to them, though of course it is important on all our campuses. In my address to you in 2017, I announced several ambitious initiatives to raise the profile and assure the excellence of teaching throughout Indiana University. They ranged from assuring up-to-date and rigorous promotion and tenure standards for teaching, to innovation in pedagogy, to a coherent system of teaching awards and new faculty ranks for expert teachers. These initiatives are now complete or in the implementation phase, and together with the New Directions in Teaching and Learning report of 2011, represent an unprecedented commitment to excellence in teaching at IU, the impact of which will be felt for many years to come. 

Strengthening IU's commitment to diversity and equity

Indiana University’s commitment to diversity at the highest cabinet level of the university began over 20 years ago, when IU’s 16th president, Myles Brand, appointed Dr. Charlie Nelms as IU’s first vice president for student development and diversity in 1999. Since then, and under the continuing excellent leadership of Drs. Ed Marshall and James Wimbush, Indiana University has become a much more diverse university and has seen all its individual campuses become progressively more diverse, until today, collectively, 28 percent of IU’s student body are minority students, a figure higher than the equivalent figure for the state, which is 24.8 percent. In fall 2020, IU welcomed the most diverse class in the university's 200-year history, with a record total of 23,401 students of color. This represents a 102 percent increase over the last 14 years since 2007, a remarkable doubling. And as I noted earlier, more than 50,000 degrees have been earned by students of color in the last 14 years, including a record of more than 5,400 during the current academic year, which is nearly 23 percent of the graduating class.

This has been achieved through a deep commitment by IU to diversity and to fully reflecting the state’s demographics in its student body. IU’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (DEMA), which I established in 2007, has initiated and overseen with great energy and commitment an extensive range of initiatives to achieve this goal and to more broadly strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion over the last 14 years. Some major examples include:

  • In 2013, chief diversity officers who report to the campus chancellor or provost were appointed on all campuses with a secondary reporting line to the Vice President of DEMA.
  • That same year, the University Graduate School established the President’s Diversity Initiative to bolster graduate-student diversity at IU.
  • In 2013 the LGBTQ+ Culture Center moved from the Dean of Students/Division of Student Affairs portfolio to DEMA.
  • In 2015, the Groups Scholars Program was greatly strengthened through the implementation of four-year funding for Groups students, leading to a major increase in the crucial first-to-second year retention rates.
  • The Hudson and Holland Scholars Program has also been given a new strategic focus with enhanced funding to students that has also led to improved retention.
  • The IU Herbert STEM Initiative, comprising the HBCU STEM Initiative, the STEM Summer Scholars Institute, and components initiated with funding from the Department of the Navy, has been strengthened and broadened to include Hispanic Serving Institutions and Tribal Colleges and Universities in addition to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  • The 21st Century Scholars Program at IU Bloomington had the highest graduation rate of all these programs at other institutions.
  • IU’s Black Philanthropy Circle and Queer Philanthropy Circle were successfully established in 2017 and 2018 respectively, to address education issues faced by these communities through the power of philanthropic giving.

The innovative, effective, and successful nature of these programs has led to IU Bloomington and IUPUI being recognized multiple times with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from "Insight Into Diversity," a leading diversity-focused publication in higher education. IUPUI is one of only a few campuses in the nation to be recognized with the diversity award each year since it was established in 2012. In 2020, for the fourth year, IU Bloomington was also named a Diversity Champion, "Insight Into Diversity's" highest distinction.

More recently, the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of color and the impact of the murder of George Floyd led to the establishment in 2020 of a number of additional programs at IU including the Pandemic Health Disparities Fund to fund programs that address issues arising from these pandemic-related health disparities and the Racial Justice Research Fund, to fund research at IU that addresses social injustice and promotes diversity and inclusivity. Both funds have been over-subscribed.

Indiana University’s commitment to diversity comes from its fundamental belief that a great public research university must be open to all people of ability no matter what their backgrounds or social origins and that the university is, in turn, strengthened by this. We are very proud of the doubling of the number of students of color that has been achieved. But we must continue to try to find further ways to improve diversity, equity, and inclusiveness at IU and to always stand up to, as we have for 14 years, hatred, divisiveness, bigotry and intolerance in all its forms.

Revitalizing IU's international engagement 

Of all that comprises an IU education, international literacy and experience ranks with the most important. The world in which our students will live will require more, not less knowledge about the world. Great universities are also international institutions providing an education that prepares students for living and working in an interconnected world. They provide life-changing opportunities for their students to study abroad all over the globe. They are enriched by the presence of students from a diverse range of countries. And they conduct research in a truly global context that recognizes no boundaries and draw their faculty from all over the world—over 20 percent of IU’s faculty are foreign born.

In my years as IU president, under the leadership of vice presidents for international affairs Patrick O’Meara, whose recent passing we continue to mourn, David Zaret, and now Hannah Buxbaum, and their outstanding staff, we have sought to provide this in a number of ways.

We now require a mandatory international component for every student as part of the IU general education curriculum.

We have also made it a top priority to vastly increase the number of our students who study abroad. Over the last 14 years, we have seen a doubling in the number of IU students who study abroad—it has become one of the highest in the nation, with IU Bloomington ranking fifth out of around 1,200 universities, in terms of the number of students who studied abroad before the pandemic. Since I became president in 2007, 43,711 IU students have studied abroad—an experience they invariably describe as life-changing. The year before I became president, the study abroad participation rate for graduating seniors at IU Bloomington was approximately 20 percent. For the graduating class of 2020, the percentage was 34.3 percent. And at IUPUI the total number of students studying abroad over the last 14 years has increased by 65 percent.

IU also welcomes a large and diverse international student body who now come from over 160 countries. They bring the world to IU. And when they return home, they become, for the rest of their lives, passionate alumni with strongly positive views about the United States. Since 2007, 32,540 international students have earned degrees from Indiana University, representing nearly 11 percent of the more than 308,000 degrees awarded during this period. We now have around 50 international chapters of the IU Alumni Association that help alumni across the globe remain connected with their alma mater.

The centrality of international engagement to Indiana University will also soon be cemented with the completion of the Ferguson International Building on the IU Bloomington campus, which will consolidate all international student and faculty services in one place.

Through the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, we have built on IU’s formidable resources in language study—we teach over 70 foreign languages, more than any other university in the country—and in area studies, to become one of the nation’s most eminent centers of research and scholarship in foreign and international affairs.

We have supported and encouraged our faculty from all disciplines in engaging internationally.

We have built strong, active and carefully selected partnerships with around 200 of the best foreign universities in 40 countries around the world that support all of these programs and the research and scholarship activities of our faculty.

And we have established IU Global Gateway offices in Bangkok, Beijing, Berlin, Mexico City, and New Delhi to help focus and concentrate our activities in key regions of the world.

Revitalizing IU’s international engagement and standing has been one of our top priorities over that past 14 years, and I am immensely proud of all that we have achieved.

The IU School of Medicine and the health sciences

The last 14 years have also seen major changes in the health sciences at Indiana University. IU is indisputably the health sciences powerhouse of the state. It has the only medical school in the state and the largest in the nation, is the largest producer of nursing graduates in the country through the various schools of nursing on IU’s campuses taken collectively, it has the only schools in the state of dentistry, optometry and public health (two) in the state, a highly ranked school of social work, and a new school of health and human sciences which is home to many professional health sciences programs. Three of them were formed in the last 14 years.

The research, clinical, and educational activities of these schools are some of the major ways IU contributes to the social and economic development of the state. They produce the largest numbers of graduates in these fields in the state and hence are vital to the health and well-being of the citizens of Indiana.

However, until recently, these schools had worked largely independently of each other with little institutional structure to better leverage their collective strengths—especially in an era when the calls for more interprofessional education involving the various health science disciplines were becoming increasingly loud.

Hence, in 2010, to better coordinate their activities and to build collaboration between them, the Office of University Clinical Affairs was formed. Today, it is headed by Executive Vice President Jay Hess. This office has established the IU Interprofessional Practice and Education Center that funds and oversees a very successful program of interprofessional education involving a number of these schools and which has already trained over 5,000 students to better prepare them for practicing in the interdisciplinary teams.

Also in 2010, the then Clarian Health Partners, which IU jointly formed with the Methodist Health Group in 1997, changed its name to IU Health to better reflect its standing as the only academic health center in Indiana, a standing it has by virtue of its close integration with the IU School of Medicine. The relationship between IU and IU Health is immensely important. So, to better manage IU’s side of this relationship, the IU Office of University Clinical Affairs, through Executive Vice President Jay Hess, was designated as the principal interface to IU Health and he works extremely closely with IU Health CEO Dennis Murphy, whose strong support has been essential to our joint successes.

In fact, in recent years, IU, principally through the School of Medicine, has forged a much stronger relationship with IU Health. More than 60 independent physician practice groups have been brought into IU Health Physicians faculty group practice since 2010, nearly completing this consolidation. Many new leaders were recruited from within and from some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions, including 16 new department chairs. New institutes were established in cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neuroscience. At the same time, the school’s research in a number of areas has thrived, with its research programs in neurodegenerative, musculoskeletal, and pediatric disease research now considered to be among the best in the nation. And in 2019, the IU Simon Cancer Center earned National Cancer Institute “Comprehensive” status, the institute’s highest recognition for excellence in research, education, and clinical care in this area.

In 2015, IU and IU Health announced that they would be constructing a new nearly $500 million Regional Academic Health Center on the IU Bloomington campus. Construction of this complex is now almost complete. In fact, IU’s Academic Health Sciences Building, which is part of the RAHC, began welcoming students this semester. It is co-located with the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital, which is the other part of the RAHC, and it will open this fall. The new RAHC will help address state’s growing need for medical and health science professionals by helping to produce more graduates in these vital professions, while at the same time also attracting new investment and enhancing economic development in Bloomington and south-central Indiana.

And in 2015, IU and IU Health began the very early stages of planning a new multibillion dollar clinical, education, and research campus in Indianapolis, which will dramatically transform the present 16th Street Indianapolis medical campus into a major new world-class academic health center. A new medical education building, funded by IU Health, will be constructed and co-located with a new IU Health hospital as part of this initiative, that will be the center of the education of future doctors. IU will also construct a large research facility as part of the overall academic health center. The formal groundbreaking for this project will be held in the fall. The ability for IU to partner in the development of two new hospitals is truly a rare and extraordinary opportunity.

Finally, in advance of these momentous developments, in 2016, the School of Medicine completed its plan—started in 2008—to increase the number of Indiana doctors in the coming decades by increasing its enrollment of medical students by 30 percent and transforming its regional medical education programs from two-year to four-year programs. The school now offers a four-year medical education in all of its eight locations across the state in addition to its main center in Indianapolis.

Research successes and records

Research is one of the fundamental missions of Indiana University. IU’s research enterprise is huge, principally based at IU Bloomington, IUPUI, and the School of Medicine, but encompassing all of IU’s campuses. Every day, thousands of faculty, graduate students, and increasingly, undergraduate students, pursue research and scholarship in a bewildering array of disciplines.

Much of this vast enterprise is funded by sources external to the university, most significantly through the federal government and its great research funding agencies. Over the last 14 years, IU has seen a steady increase in externally funded research culminating in a record $854 million in funding for 2019-20. It was also the highest total of external research funding obtained by any research university in the state during the last fiscal year and the highest annual total—by far—in IU history. It represented a more than 25 percent increase over the prior year’s total of $680.2 million, which was itself the previous IU record.

In a few months, we will have the final totals for external research funding for the current fiscal year, but it is estimated that it will be approximately $960 million, which will be about a 15 percent increase over last year, yet another new record and the fourth record since 2007-08. This will also mean that in the last 14 years over $8 billion in externally funded research has been awarded to IU. This impact is underscored even more when we combine these totals with the total of private philanthropic giving, much of which supports the IU’s academic mission. Here, IU set a new record in 2019-20 of over $1.15 billion and can be expected to match this total this year. All this emphatically underscores once again that Indiana University is truly the state’s research powerhouse.

The enormous success IU faculty have had in competing for sponsored awards is a testament to the extraordinary range and quality of our faculty and students and their work. Their research and scholarship, in turn, results in the generation of innovative new ideas, new intellectual works, and discoveries that cure disease, protect our environment, help secure our nation, grow the economy, and advance art and culture in our communities. This success also points to the substantial impact of the numerous high-quality and productive faculty members recruited in recent years. And we should not forget the vital importance of all of the outstanding staff members, whose excellent work in support of these efforts is a vital part of them.

Much of the external research funding that IU receives supports individual investigators and small teams of investigators. But increasingly in many areas of research, the trend is to large, frequently multidisciplinary teams focused on major problems. IU itself set out in this direction on one of its boldest and visionary research ventures ever when it established its Grand Challenges Program in 2015 under the leadership of Vice President for Research Fred Cate and the outstanding staff in his office. IU announced that it would invest more than $200 million in its three major multidisciplinary Grand Challenge projects, focused on:

  • medical treatments precisely targeted to an individual’s genetic makeup;
  • addressing the issues involved in adapting to environmental change; and
  • addressing in a wholistic way, the scourge of drug addiction that is devastating so many Midwest communities.

IU is working with more than 200 partners on these projects in every Indiana county, including more than 30 local governments. This program has directly funded 44 new faculty, 133 postdocs, 114 graduate students, and 116 undergraduates, and indirectly supported hundreds more. It has already led to extensive external funding being awarded to IU, while helping to transform the way IU engages with the state and other partners, as highlighted by the recent five-year Grand Challenges Summit.

A vital part of IU’s research enterprise are its excellent graduate students, who contribute to the richness of campus intellectual life as they gain world-class advanced training in an extensive range of fields. The Bloomington campus has continued to develop innovative programs to support a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive graduate student body, including the award-wining Getting You Into IU program, the graduate Emissaries Program for recruiting and retaining underrepresented students, and the Graduate Mentoring Center. The campus has also devoted more and improved resources to addressing graduate student wellbeing and mental health, including establishing the Graduate Student Mental Health Task Force to develop recommendations for structural and programmatic improvements in mental health services to graduate students.

Financial uncertainty is a major contributor to stress among graduate students, and the Bloomington campus continues to work to improve graduate student financial support and to increase student academic appointee stipends. The University Graduate School’s GradGrants Center also provides a number of important resources, including workshops, peer consultants, and application assistance for those seeking Fulbright and NSF Graduate Research Fellowship funding. And, as the kinds of jobs our graduate students will face in the future continues to evolve, the Bloomington campus has implemented a number of programs to better prepare them for diverse career pathways. Through the expanded Future Faculty Teaching Fellows program, advanced students are provided the opportunity to spend a year teaching on another IU campus or at a partner institution in Indiana. New positions focused on career development for graduate students have been created in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Walter Career Center and in the offices of the University Graduate School and the Vice Provost for Graduate Education to expand the professional and career resources available.

IU is also committed to providing the highest levels of research opportunities for undergraduate students. At IU Bloomington, the position of Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Research was created to enhance and coordinate undergraduate research activities, which have expanded significantly in recent years and are becoming extremely popular with undergraduate students. As of this year, 27 percent of seniors at IU Bloomington have worked with a faculty member on a research project before graduation. And the number is growing on other campuses as well.

The preservation of knowledge

I spoke in detail in my 2019 State of the University address about the enormous importance of IU’s collections. I emphasized how these collections are among IU’s most precious educational, research, and scholarly resources, and that collectively, they represent IU’s commitment to that third mission of great universities—the preservation of knowledge.

I stressed that after years of neglect there was an urgent and pressing need for a coherent university-wide approach as to how they are best managed, organized, and housed to ensure both their most effective use in research and teaching within and without IU, and to ensure they have the specific care and preservation each requires.

Much progress has been made in doing this since I gave this address, with the development of IU’s first ever collections strategic plan, approved by the IU Trustees in December, 2019, and which followed the appointment of the first-ever Executive Director of IU Collections, Heather Calloway. We have also seen the re-opening after a magnificent renovation of the Eskenazi Museum of Art and the stunning renovation of the Lilly Library is nearly complete and it will reopen later this year. As well a major renovation is underway of the former Glenn Black Laboratory of Archaeology and of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, which will transform them into a highly innovative new Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the old McCalla School Building is being renovated to convert it into the new Collections, Teaching, Research and Exhibitions Center—both to open later this year.

I first addressed the issues involved in preserving IU’s time-based media objects collections, consisting of audio, video, and film, in my 2013 State of the University Address, where I announced the establishment of the first phase of the $15 million Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative (MDPI). Its ambitious goal was to digitize over 300,000 of IU’s most valuable, and in many cases irreplaceable and unique, time-based audio and video objects as recommended by the faculty, and to do this by the Bicentennial. By digitizing an object, of course, it would be preserved potentially forever, and become accessible, subject to copyright, not only within IU but to the whole world.

The challenge was that nearly all of this vast amount of material was difficult to access. Much had been recorded in what are now obsolete or obscure formats, for which few playback devices remain in existence. And as is tragically too often the case, some of this material was at risk of deterioration or was already deteriorating.

MDPI was the largest such undertaking in all of higher education and one of the largest media preservation projects anywhere in the world. The bulk of the work was completed in the fall, and by any measure, MDPI has been a tremendous success and an extraordinary accomplishment. Nearly 20,000 reels of film, more than 6,600 wax cylinders, and 7,400 lacquer and aluminum discs have been digitized, adding up to almost 350,000 items in total! Work has continued over the last few months as the MDPI team completes the film project, which was Phase 2 of the initiative, and work on the difficult task of digitizing the many remaining recordings that our commercial partners Memnon were unable to digitize.

Beyond MDPI, IU has been involved in extensive digitization initiatives of two- and three- dimensional objects over the last 14 years, including as a partner in the Google Books Project, and as a co-founder of the HathiTrust, which has digitized 17 million volumes. We have also digitized important parts of IU’s herbarium and paleontology collections, and IU has collaborated with Florence’s famed Uffizi Gallery, in a major project led by Professor Bernie Frischer, to digitize all their Greco-Roman sculptures.

The cumulative effect of these highly varied and prodigious efforts over the last 14 years will be an integrated digital and physical infrastructure for our collections that will rival the best of any university in the world. It will be a lasting testament to IU’s commitment to the preservation of the knowledge of the human race.

A national and global leader in the application and uses of information technology

Indiana University’s reputation as a world leader in the uses and application of information technology—which supports all three of IU’s missions—has also continued to grow over the last 14 years.

The pathbreaking 1998 IT Strategic Plan led to an entirely new approach to IT at IU. Rather than balkanizing and siloing resources within campuses and the university in independent fiefdoms, it would leverage much of the entire IT resources of the university to develop at scale the highest quality services managed and operated at the university level through University Information Technology Services, and to do this right across every area where there were major investments in technology. This remains IU’s enormously successful strategy to this day, achieved through the superb leadership first of vice president Brad Wheeler and now of vice president Rob Lowden.

To support IU’s teaching and learning mission during the past 14 years, UITS modernized more than 1,000 classrooms across the whole university, and established the nationally known Mosaic initiative for modernizing learning spaces and pedagogy. IU’s pioneering eTexts program has saved our students on all campuses $34 million in just the last six years alone. IU has shown leadership in co-founding enduring, multi-university collaborations, such as the Unizin digital learning ecosystem and its almost 1 million students served, as well as many others.  

Access to major supercomputer systems with the capacity for massive data storage and ultra-fast networks is a fundamental need at a great research university like IU for computational uses and applications across nearly all the disciplines from astronomy to the arts and humanities. In this regard, IU has been a national leader for over 20 years and has continued to excel in scale and national prominence. Of the 381 disciplines at IU, around 4,500 researchers or scholars from 346 disciplines use IU’s supercomputer systems. IU’s flagship supercomputer Big Red 200, was the first university-owned system of its kind in the country to be configured for artificial intelligence research.

The strategic plan also laid the foundation for IU’s extensive success in digital networking. IU’s Network Master Plan defines how IU’s networks are regularly upgraded to ensure they provide state-of-the-art network connectivity to support IU’s research and education missions. IU’s nationally known Global Network Operations Center (GlobalNOC), established in 1998, now supports not only IU’s intra- and inter-campus networks, but the major national and international networks of Internet2, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture, and 14 other state or regional education networks. Since its establishment, the GlobalNOC has brought to IU $180 million from contracts—by 2027 this number will be around $300 million—and $40 million from grants. IU is also a leader in international research and education networks, and in fall 2020, the National Science Foundation awarded IU a further five-year grant of $4.75 million to support TransPAC5, extending more than 20 years of collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region.  

Paramount in all these areas is cybersecurity. As well as its large office of cybersecurity engineers and professionals, IU is playing a major role nationally. It is home to the Research and Education Information Sharing and Analysis Center (REN-ISAC) established in 2002, which provides cybersecurity-related threat intelligence and protection guidance to its 670 member colleges and universities; to the Omni Security Operations Center (OmniSOC), which is the shared cybersecurity operations center for higher education and research; and to the ResearchSOC, which is chartered by the NSF to provide operational cybersecurity services to NSF-funded facilities and projects.

IU’s superb technology environment has also powered and made possible one of IU’s major educational initiatives—IU’s highly regarded IU Online program, founded in 2012. I spoke at some length about this program in my 2019 State of the University address and about how it has contributed to student success and greatly widened their educational options and will not repeat any of that here.

However, little did I know when I made these remarks how essential IU Online would become barely six months later as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, for it provided the extensive base of experience that, together with UITS, enabled IU faculty to almost seamlessly convert literally thousands of courses to all on-line or hybrid formats last spring in little more than two weeks, then to repeat this on a larger and more sophisticated scale over the summer in preparation for the fall semester. UITS has also played a major role in developing all the IT systems that have been used in IU’s response to the pandemic. Nowhere has IU’s decades-long investment in IT been better attested to recently than during the pandemic.

Building for excellence

Vital to a great university are the physical facilities and infrastructure necessary to sustain its education and research mission at the highest level. We have focused on this issue from the very outset.

In my inauguration address in 2007, I announced that, given the vast scale of our infrastructure valued at upwards of $7 billion, its extensive and critical maintenance needs—including a then-deferred maintenance bill of nearly $1 billion, a severe shortage of new or renovated research and teaching space and dilapidated student residences, the time had come to more systematically plan in order to address all of these problems.

We set out to do this by developing new master plans to govern campus development and priorities for IU Bloomington in 2009, and for IUPUI in 2011. Both plans were recently updated to guide future development, and in the case of IUPUI, to incorporate the new IU Health Academic Health Center in Indianapolis and related developments. Land use plans were also developed for all the regional campuses.

Guided by these plans, first under the leadership of former Vice President Terry Clapacs, and since 2009, of Vice President Tom Morrison, we have seen, over the last 14 years, the most sustained period of the renovation, renewal, and repurposing of our existing facilities—and of the construction of new facilities—in IU’s history. In short, over 200 major construction, renovation or maintenance projects have been carried out or are underway as well as thousands of smaller ones, with a total value of nearly $2.7 billion and comprising nearly 16 million square feet. One top of this, we should also note that IU Health is making a total investment of at least this size in new academic health centers in Bloomington and Indianapolis in which IU health sciences schools will be intimately involved and engaged.

At IU Bloomington, thanks in part to funding from the State Legislature, we have seen a dramatic transformation of the historic Old Crescent. All of the iconic buildings of this oldest portion of the campus have been extensively renovated and returned to their original academic purpose. Prior to the pandemic, this historic part of the campus was once again teeming with student life—and soon it will be again. We have also built and renovated extensive facilities for research, including Multidisciplinary Science Building II and the renovated Biology Building; new buildings for teaching and learning, including the Kelley School of Business’s Hodge Hall, and Luddy Hall, home to the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering; and new and renovated facilities for the arts, including the Jacobs School of Music East Studio Building, the enormously successful IU Cinema, the Prebys Amphitheater, and the Eskenasi School of Art, Architecture and Design Building, nearing completion, based on a design by the founder of modern architecture, Mies van der Rohe.

IU Bloomington is a major residential campus with over 13,000 residential beds in extensive residential facilities. These had been largely unchanged since the 1960s, and I announced in my Inauguration Address that we would upgrade all the residence halls on campus in subsequent years. Since then, they have all been either been fully renovated, are scheduled for renovation, or are scheduled for demolition by 2024. By completion, this will have occurred in an environment of constant construction over the course of 17 years (2007-2024,) with major renovation projects scheduled in such a way that all residence halls and dining facilities can be upgraded while, at the same time, maintaining maximum occupancy. This investment in new and renovated housing at IU Bloomington will have totaled over $610 million.   

The IUPUI campus, too, has undergone a dramatic physical transformation. When I first arrived at IU 24 years ago, IUPUI was predominantly a commuter campus. It had played a very important role in the city of Indianapolis and the broader area since its founding in 1969, but its role in the day-to-day life of the city was necessarily limited because of its commuter campus status. One of the most gratifying things, then, that I have seen happen over the period I have been president is the complete transformation of the IUPUI campus from a commuter campus into a traditional university campus with all the positive things that entails. Students were coming to IUPUI seeking the classic on-campus experience that helps shape lives and strengthen education. Simply put, to achieve at the highest levels, they need a place to live on campus. To meet this need, University Place Hotel and Conference Center was converted into a residence hall, and the first new residence hall on campus—North Hall—was constructed. In addition, we are nearing completion on a spectacular renovation of Ball Hall, IUPUI’s very first residence hall, a major project that has preserved a window into the history of the campus. With all of these changes, IUPUI has more than doubled the number of beds on campus, going from 1,100 in 2007 to 2,400 in 2021.

IUPUI has been further transformed by the conversion of New York and Michigan streets into safer, more slowed two-way streets, almost instantly turning the campus into a much friendlier and more welcoming place and strengthening the campus’ connection to downtown Indianapolis. One only has to look at the cities of Chicago and Los Angeles, where the University of Chicago and the University of Southern California illustrate the transformative impact a great residential, urban campus can have on a city. That is now the future that is now emerging in Indianapolis.

We also developed a strategy for substantially reducing or even eliminating all deferred maintenance by the Bicentennial. Key to this strategy was an agreement we reached with the State Legislature, wherein they would fund major building renovations—given that the taxpayers of Indiana had invested in buildings and infrastructure at IU for over a century—and IU would fund new construction. In addition, they agreed to restore regular funding for what is called R&R—repair and rehabilitation—based on the state’s excellent formula to determine this. We are extremely grateful to the state for their support for this program. At the end of the current fiscal year, IU will have invested nearly $900 million to eliminate deferred maintenance on all campuses over the past decade almost completely eliminating this problem. This will leave only about $100 million to be funded primarily in two large projects. The projects (the School of Public Health-Bloomington building and the Jacobs School of Music Annex) will continue to be part of the university’s request for state capital funding or federal infrastructure funding as it might materialize in the period ahead. All smaller deferred maintenance projects have been eliminated.

Deferred maintenance was a particular problem on our regional campuses, with many buildings and infrastructure facing the end of their initial lifecycle all at about the same time. This, too, was eliminated as part of this overall program with special support from the State Legislature for which we are particularly grateful.

In addition, several much-needed new buildings and renovations to support both academic priorities and campus life were carried out on a number of our regional campuses.  These projects included the IU South Bend Education and Arts Building, the IU Northwest Arts and Sciences Building, and the new Student Activities Centers at both IU Kokomo and IU East.

In all of this extensive renovation and building activity, Indiana University has never lost sight of how it relates to sustainability and the effects of climate change. For example, IU has required its major capital projects to be designed to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards.  As part of the "Bicentennial Strategic Plan," IU required that all new construction achieve LEED Gold certification as a minimum.  As a result, IU continues to be a leader in the Big Ten in the number of LEED certified buildings we have. In addition, IU is deeply concerned about climate change and our own greenhouse gas emissions.  IU has been tracking and reporting on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions since 2010.  Through a commitment of renovation and rehabilitation of older infrastructure and new more energy efficient facilities, IU’s combined annual GHG emissions have been reduced 23 percent over the past decade. And IU’s consumption of energy utilities has been steadily declining for the past five years, saving both money and natural resources. Alternative systems such as solar energy production and other options including combined heat and power, energy storage systems, solar hot water systems, and thermal storage are being continuously analyzed for possible future means to continue this reduction. 

Serving IU's employees

With more than 20,000 appointed faculty and staff and another 20,000 temporary employees, Indiana University is one of the largest employers in the state. These human resources—our outstanding faculty and staff—are one of IU’s most vital resources, a view repeatedly endorsed by our trustees over the last 14 years.

The true test of this came during the pandemic. During its early turbulent days, many of our peer institutions enacted across the board salary cuts, university wide furloughs, and cuts to employee benefits in the face of major fiscal uncertainties. The pressures on us to do this were considerable. But Indiana University chose not to do so. Instead, we committed to keep paying our employees as usual, especially as months of grinding hardship for many were starting to loom. We did this through June 30th 2020. And even after this date, though a hiring freeze and salary freeze was also put in place, very few employees were furloughed or terminated and,  in many cases, these were of a seasonal kind.

The university worked hard to stand by its employees. They had been loyal to IU, so in these dark and fraught times when they need it most, IU needed to strain every sinew to be loyal to them.

A principal concern of the trustees has been to ensure that all faculty and staff are paid fairly and that they have decent and reasonable benefits. This is why, even in the recent era of low tuition increases and constrained state higher education appropriations, they have supported annual pay raises where budgets allow, the availability of adequate benefits to all no matter what their gender, race or sexual preferences, and that the lowest paid minimally receive a living wage. Some major initiatives among the many approved by the trustees in recent years have been:

  • the appointment of John Whelan as IU’s first vice president for human resources, which further signaled IU's commitment to improve the conditions and workplace environment of all IU employees,
  • offering fully paid parental leave for all staff employees of the university,
  • an increase in the university's contribution to the IU Retirement and Savings Plan for support and service staff to a flat 10 percent—the same contribution IU makes to retirement plans for faculty and professional staff, and most recently,
  • the approval of an immediate increase of the IU minimum wage for appointed staff to $13.66 an hour, and a further increase IU’s minimum wage to $15 as of July 1, 2021.

In 2015, vice president Whelan’s office released the HR2020 strategic plan for the development of human resources at IU. This has led to the implementation of programs to provide employee mental health support, solicited employee feedback through various surveys, and expanded online telemedicine options that are now more important than ever. A new approach to staff careers at IU has also been initiated by creating a simple, clear, and consistent job framework. The university-wide framework, the IU Career Navigator, and new career planning tools empower staff to self-guide their development and plan a rewarding career at IU.

All of this is clear demonstration of the depth and seriousness of IU’s commitment to its employees.

Strengthening IU's net financial position

In the previous sections, I have described at some length the substantial investments in an extensive range of areas that Indiana University has made over the last 14 years, all aimed at building excellence in our education and research missions.

But this has always been done with careful and prudent fiscal planning and management under the outstanding leadership and guidance of those who have successively served as IU’s vice president and chief financial officer over the last 14 years: Neil Theobald, MaryFrances McCourt, and John Sejdinaj. And despite declining state support as a percentage of IU's total operating budget, and despite the negative financial effects of the pandemic, Indiana University’s net financial position is sound.

Since 2007, the university’s total assets have grown by $2.6 billion, while liabilities only grew by $770 million. In 2007, the university’s net position (that is, assets less liabilities) was just over $1 billion. In Fiscal Year 2020, it surpassed $4 billion for the first time. 

During this period, IU has issued debt in moderation to fund new facilities. Although debt grew from $576 million in 2007 to $1.18 billion in 2020, the university took advantage of low interest rates, refinancing existing debt and using creative debt structures. Since July 1, 2007, IU has realized $79.5 million in debt service savings through periodically restructuring its debt when market opportunities arise. And IU is also one of only seven public universities in the nation with a triple-A credit rating from both Moody’s and Standard and Poor's. In May of 2020, these ratings were reaffirmed on all of IU’s outstanding debt.

There are, though, some possible storm clouds on the horizon with the effects of demographic decline on the university-ready student population in the state. It is generally agreed that this will have little effect on flagship campuses—this is certainly true of IU Bloomington which is already seeing record deposits—but student numbers on the regional campuses will continue to be a challenge for at least some of them.

At the same time, IU has continuously worked to find efficiencies that lead to cost reductions and that result in cost savings that can be reallocated to the university’s highest priorities. IU’s Responsibility Centered Management (RCM) budget system, of which IU was an early adopter, naturally creates this kind of culture.

Not only have we closed or merged 12 schools, but we have centralized many services in University Administration to serve all campuses including a range of administrative services from treasury, procurement and facilities planning, to legal, information technology and human resources.

Campuses are continuously evaluating and reallocating resources. Over the six years prior to the COVID outbreak, the University Office of Budget and Planning was able to identify $107 million in reduction and reallocation efforts across the IU campuses.  And when the pandemic hit, departments across the university stepped up, not just with the five percent requested budget reductions, but with a six percent reduction, which yielded $94 million dollars in savings that protected jobs and our core academic enterprise.

Of course, many of the investments described in the previous sections have led to increased revenue growth for IU, such as the dramatically increased external research funding. In the next two sections I will describe two other areas where there has been dramatic revenue growth—philanthropy and the commercialization of intellectual property.

Record levels of philanthropy

I have repeatedly noted that private philanthropy is one of the great pillars of the American system of higher education, making it the greatest in the world. For IU, this was stunningly demonstrated by the huge success of IU’s record-breaking Bicentennial Campaign, which concluded in September last year. This outstanding campaign far surpassed its original goal of $2.5 billion and it revised goal of $3 billion, raising nearly $4 billion. It was by far the largest campaign in IU’s history and one of the largest ever for a public university in the United States. IU’s previous two campaigns for IU Bloomington and IUPUI were completed in 2010 and 2013 respectively and raised $1.1 billion and $1.4 billion. So, in the last 14 years a total of over $6 billion has been generously given philanthropically to IU.

The impact of the remarkable level of generosity of the Bicentennial Campaign can be measured in the more than 5,800 undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships that were endowed—a 45.4 percent increase over the total created during the university's entire 190-year history before the campaign. These awards keep IU affordable and will give students from disadvantaged backgrounds—who may not otherwise be able to pursue a degree—the opportunity to earn an IU education. And the campaign’s impact can also be measured in the funds raised to endow 235 professorial positions—a 51.5 percent increase over the previous total. These endowed chairs and professorships are vital in IU’s efforts to recruit and retain outstanding faculty.

The campaign, which saw record levels of philanthropic support in five consecutive fiscal years, galvanized hundreds of thousands of IU supporters. It has transformed the landscapes of IU's campuses with state-of-the-art facilities. It has helped to ensure the future success of a number of IU schools that now bear the names of their supporters. We owe our deepest gratitude to the unwavering generosity, dedication and loyalty of the more than 320,000 IU alumni and friends who contributed to the campaign. The enormous impact of their generosity, which has touched so many lives, will endure through the next century.

Those who have served as president and CEO of the IU Foundation over the last 14 years—Gene Tempel, Dan Smith, and current interim CEO J T. Forbes—as well as the outstanding staff of the Foundation and development officers across the university deserve our most grateful thanks for all they have done to shepherd this record-setting philanthropic success.

Finally, as I noted earlier, the two campaigns before the Bicentennial Campaign were for individual campuses and raised about $1 billion each. However, the Bicentennial Campaign raised nearly $4 billion and crucially, was an all-university campaign involving all seven campuses, the first ever in IU’s history! So, it is abundantly clear from the overwhelming success of this campaign that unless for a specialized purpose, all future IU fundraising campaigns should involve all campuses working closely together as they did so well this time.

Contributing to the economic wellbeing of the state

Through all three of its missions, IU contributes in major ways to the economic wellbeing of the state of Indiana. The ability of our faculty to translate cutting-edge research into commercial technologies is vital to that effort.

Over the last 14 years under the leadership of Vice President for Government Relations and Economic Engagement Bill Stephan and his staff, IU has seen a large expansion of commercialized IU intellectual property and the steady growth of a new entrepreneurial spirit in many parts of IU. Since 2007, IU has processed an impressive 2,497 new invention disclosures and 3,951 new patent applications, which resulted in 1,230 new patents being issued. In addition, 531 licenses have been secured, producing $109,009,872 in licensing revenue and 67 start-up companies.

In 2018, what is now known as IU Ventures, was named the Tech Transfer Unit of the Year by Global University Venturing in recognition of IU’s leadership in the commercialization of intellectual property. And just a few weeks ago, IU Ventures won Techpoint’s MIRA Investor of the Year Award that recognizes efforts to invest in and support diverse Indiana startups. Over 50 percent of the companies in which IU Ventures invested had women or minority founders.

Since 2009, the Office of the Vice President for Government Relations and Economic Engagement has developed numerous defense partnerships that have contributed to the Indiana economy and national security including with the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Crane Division and the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, and the Indiana National Guard, which have resulted in multiple joint research awards, Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, visiting faculty agreements, collaborative projects supporting student and faculty research, and numerous other projects.

To understand the full annual economic impact on the state of Indiana University and all of its extensive activities in all of its locations across the state, in 2019 the office commissioned a study by Emsi, a labor market analytics firm to answer this question. Their report showed that IU created $9.9 billion in added income for Indiana in Fiscal Year 2019. Additionally, it indicated that one out of every 26 jobs in Indiana is supported by the activities of IU and its students, and that for every dollar that a student invests in their education at IU, they will receive $3.50 in higher future earnings.

IU also contributes to the economic well-being of the state through the engagement of its students in service-learning and other initiatives. IU Bloomington, under the leadership of Provost Robel, established the Center for Rural Engagement with the support of a $10 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, to use the research, expertise, teaching and service of the Bloomington campus to address the challenges facing Indiana’s rural communities. The center partners closely with IU Corps, which brings together students, student organizations, and community partners to provide service to citizens of south-central Indiana and beyond. In one recent semester, nearly 20,000 students gave nearly 643,000 hours of work valued at over $16 million through work with 245 active partners through IU Corps.

The IUPUI campus is particularly well-known for its community-based, service-learning, and civic engagement programs. Each year, IUPUI students spend over a million hours engaging with community partners through the service-learning elements of numerous courses in multiple disciplines, and over 700 community organizations work with IUPUI in these areas.

All of what I have described, then, demonstrates the enormous and vital economic impact IU has on the state of Indiana through all parts of the university.

IU's thriving athletics programs

The record period of building and construction I described a moment ago also includes the completion of the Master Plan for IU Athletics in Bloomington, which forms part of the larger Master Plan for IU Bloomington. This represented an investment, supported by some of IU's most generous donors, of around $250 million over the last 14 years. All of IU's sports are now housed within the precinct bounded by Dunn, 17th Street, and the Bypass, with the exception of golf, cross country, rowing, and the aquatic sports. And with the completion of Woodlawn Avenue nearly five years ago, the central athletic campus and the main academic campus are now closely and conveniently interconnected, which symbolically reflects that Athletics is part of the university, not separate from it.

Over this period, under the leadership of Vice President Fred Glass and now that of Scott Dolson, we have seen:

  • the construction of a much-needed basketball practice facility in Cook Hall,
  • the superb renovation of the iconic Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall,
  • the enclosure of the south end zone of Memorial Stadium, which is home to the outstanding student development and education programs of the IU Excellence Academy,
  • the construction of Bart Kaufman and Andy Mohr fields for baseball and softball,
  • the complete reconstruction and renovation of the Pfau Golf Course, and
  • the construction of Wilkinson Hall, a wonderful new practice and competition venue for wrestling and volleyball.

IU student athletes have had great success on the field over the last 14 years, reflected in:

  • 46 Big Ten Athlete of the Year awards in their respective sports,
  • 650 All-America awards,
  • 23 Big Ten team championships, and
  • 30 NCAA Individual Championships. IU student athletes have earned at least one individual NCAA championship in 13 of the last 14 years. In the previous 14 years, there were only five years when IU had an individual NCAA champion.

And students and alumni have represented Indiana University with great distinction on the global stage in the 2008, 2012, 2016 Olympic Games. Between these three Olympics, 34 IU students and alumni representing 13 different countries and six continents combined to win six gold, one silver, and three bronze medals.

Our coaches too have gained great distinction with six coaches receiving “National Coach of the Year” honors in six different sports, and 11 coaches being honored 29 times as “Big Ten Coach of the Year” in 10 out of our 24 sports.

But as I have repeatedly stressed, IU’s talented student athletes are above all students. As well as developing excellence in their chosen sports, they are at IU to graduate and get a world-class education that will ensure they will have rewarding careers long after their playing days are over. The commitment of our student athletes to their educations is clearly reflected in their remarkable academic achievements over the last 14 years. Since fall 2007, 3,197 IU student athletes have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, and the size of the most recent cohort of these is almost double that from 2007. A total of 670 students have been honored as Big Ten Distinguished Scholars, an honor that only goes to those with a 3.70 GPA or higher during a given academic year. Since 2009, the award’s inaugural year, we have seen a 14 percent increase in the number of IU Big Ten Distinguished Scholars. And IU student athletes are persisting to graduation in increasingly greater numbers, with IU’s Graduation Success Rate, or GSR, rising from 81 percent in 2007-08 to 91 percent in 2020-21. This marks the ninth consecutive year that IU Athletics has either established a new GSR record or matched its previous record. 

With outstanding new or renovated facilities; with excellent academic and other support programs; with solid recruiting and highly talented coaches, the future of athletics at IU Bloomington is bright and the potential is there to join the top ranks of the Big Ten and beyond.

The last 14 years have seen the growing importance of athletics on the IUPUI campus. After having spent 20 years in what is now known as the Summit League since entering NCAA Division 1 sports competition, the IUPUI Jaguars joined the more competitive Horizon League in 2017, which includes many large public universities in urban settings like IUPUI and which is firmly rooted in the Midwest with league headquarters in Indianapolis.  In just four short years in the league, the Jaguars have won eight Horizon League titles while continuing to demonstrate outstanding academic achievement.  In fact, in fall 2020 well over half of IUPUI student athletes made the Horizon League academic honor roll for their outstanding GPA.

On IU’s regional campuses, intercollegiate athletics has become a prominent aspect of the campus experience especially in recent years. It is an important recruiting feature for both student athletes and non-athletes on these campuses. The campuses compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, and together they play 17 different men’s and women’s sports, including basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, and soccer. The teams have developed friendly intercampus rivalries, and each campus has had notable success, winning conference and tournament championships on a regular basis. Most importantly, regional campus student athletes are some of the most engaged and academically successful students on each campus, bringing the athletic values of hard work, self-discipline, and a winning attitude to their studies and other extracurricular activities.

A university poised for a dynamic future

So, this is the State of the University in 2021—affordable, accessible, and committed to helping students succeed on all of its seven campuses; more diverse than at any time in its history and committed to further addressing equity and social justice; academically sound and striving for excellence, with an outstanding faculty and with new and innovative schools and programs that are relevant to our students and to the needs of our society; fiscally sound and committed to the health and economic well-being of the people of Indiana.

Little did I know when I first visited the United States in 1985 that just over a decade later, I would move to Indiana to begin a 24-year career in service to this great institution. When I came to IU in 1997, one of the first senior members of the university I met was Herman Wells. Never did I for one second dream that less than 10 years later I would be named as one of his successors.

Nor did I know that I would have the privilege of working with such outstanding colleagues right across the university, who have made the myriad achievements I have described today possible.

I want to offer my most sincere personal thanks,

  • to the current and former members of the IU Board of Trustees with whom I have served, and who have played a decisive role in many of the initiatives I have described;
  • to the outstanding and talented senior leadership of the university—vice presidents, chancellors, and deans;
  • to our outstanding faculty, whose work is the foundation of Indiana University University’s global reputation for excellence;
  • to our staff, who have so competently implemented and supported many parts of the change we have seen over the last 14 years;
  • to our highly talented and engaged student body who, year after year, graduate to build careers that bring great pride and distinction to Indiana University;
  • to my own staff, headed by my long-serving chief of staff, Karen Adams, for their superb efforts under constantly demanding circumstances, and, on a personal note,
  • to my wife, Laurie, who, along with all she has done to serve the university community so well over many years, has been, along with our family, a constant source of support and strength. In as much as I can claim any success in my years as president, my debt to Laurie for her love and counsel is beyond words.

I am highly confident that Indiana University is well positioned to leverage the strengths of its schools, its outstanding faculty, the dedication of its staff, its academic centers, indeed, all of its assets, so that it’s enormous success over more than 200 years can be sustained and built upon. As I said at the outset, the scale and success of all that has been achieved over the last 14 years has prepared Indiana University well to take the next bold step forward to join the very top ranks of America’s greatest universities.

It has been an enormous honor to serve our great university and all of you who have been so vital to our university’s continued success and progress.

At the unveiling and dedication of his official presidential portrait in 2004 my close friend the late Myles Brand, the 16th president of Indiana University and one of its finest, said that leading Indiana University is a hallowed trust that one is privileged to have but for a fleeting moment. He went on to say, though, that what was important was to try to leave it a better place when you left it. I hope that when I depart from this role on June 30 that you and others will judge that we left it a better place.

Thank you very much.