Welcome to the beginning of another academic year. I hope you had an enjoyable summer and are as energized as I am by what promises to be another exciting, eventful and productive year at IU.
With the start of classes across all eight IU campuses, more than 100,000 students will engage in the next chapter in their educational journey. We are proud to include among our student body IU’s Bicentennial Class of 2020, whose members are already setting new marks for academic achievement while demonstrating the success of the university’s continuing efforts to increase diversity and keep an IU education accessible for Indiana residents.
In the coming weeks, you will hear much more about the vision, programs and initiatives that will be part of IU’s bicentennial celebration in the 2019-20 academic year. Planning is well underway, including a formal call this fall to all members of the university community for proposals, activity grants and sponsorship requests as we ramp up to our 200th anniversary. This momentous occasion provides us with a special opportunity to reflect upon IU’s proud history, showcase our world-class programs and fully prepare the institution for a third century of excellence.
We approach this exciting time in our university’s history with a great deal of positive momentum — thanks, in large part, to your hard work and tireless dedication to all that makes our university such an inspiring teaching and learning environment.
Just several days ago, we announced that, for the second consecutive fiscal year, IU achieved record totals in external funding for research and other activities and for private philanthropy. In FY 2016, that total amounted to nearly $1 billion. IU also experienced a banner year for economic development, highlighted by a record number of U.S. patents and a dramatic increase in licensing agreements, which has resulted in the university rising in reputation as a national leader in innovation.
Earlier this summer, we announced the inaugural round of funding for IU’s new $300 million Grand Challenges Program, the most ambitious research program in the university’s history, through which we will develop transformative solutions to the most urgent issues facing Indiana and the world. The Precision Health Initiative, a visionary research initiative focused on patient-centered precision medicine therapies, was chosen as the first funding recipient at the end of a yearlong process. The first round of the Grand Challenges Program began with a remarkable 21 preliminary proposals that involved over 400 faculty members from 29 schools at six IU campuses.
All of this activity took place following a record spring commencement season, in which the university presented more than 20,000 IU degrees to graduates who came from all 92 counties in Indiana, all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, and 128 countries.
Our record successes and bold new initiatives, such as the Grand Challenges Program, are testament to the quality of the remarkable work being conducted by our first-rate faculty and staff across all of our campuses around the state. This work includes research and other academic activities that expand knowledge, drive innovation, create new industries and jobs, spur economic growth and contribute to a high standard of living for all Hoosiers.
Finally, I cannot say enough about the time and energy IU employees devote to maintaining the physical facilities and infrastructure that are essential to our education and research missions; their efforts to preserve our beautiful and sustainable campuses; the way they protect our students’ health and safety; and the guidance they give our students to prepare them for successful lives and careers after graduation.
I want to commend all of you who have helped make possible our record achievements and continue to serve as the caretakers of our nearly 200-year commitment to sparking innovation and discovery, illuminating the boundless possibilities of human imagination and creativity, and providing each and every student with an exceptional educational experience.
Your collective talent, your dedication to our students and your contributions to strengthening our traditions of excellence in education, research and engagement in the life of our state make me proud to call you colleagues. As I have said on many occasions, IU is a world-class institution, but what makes it truly extraordinary is its people.
Thanks to each of you for all you do on behalf of IU, and my very best wishes for a great 2016-17 academic year.
Michael A. McRobbie