A tribute to Lauren Robel, and next steps

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Dear Colleagues, 

As you will have seen, IU Executive Vice President and IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel has announced her retirement from these positions on June 30, 2021, and her return to the faculty of the Maurer School of Law.

I am immensely grateful to her for extraordinary efforts on behalf of the campus and of Indiana University, not just in these positions, but in all the positions she has held at IU since 1985. It has been a glittering record of sustained achievement and excellence. The whole IU community owes her an enormous debt of gratitude.

She has been a superb leader of the Bloomington campus for the past 10 years. She and I have worked extremely closely together on an almost daily basis during her time as provost. In my over 40 years in academia, Lauren has been one of the finest colleagues I have ever known. Her intelligence, integrity, decency, prodigious work ethic and creativity put her in a class of her own.

She has played a key role in many of the most important initiatives and developments on campus over this period, including a complete overhaul of nearly every aspect of student administration and student life, an increase of over 50% in minority student numbers and programs to support them, the creation of dozens and dozens of new degrees and academic programs, and the recruitment of outstanding deans and other senior administrators as well as hundreds of excellent new faculty.

She was intimately involved in the establishment and development of six new schools on the Bloomington campus — the School of Public Health-Bloomington, the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Affairs, the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design, and The Media School — all of which have opened up extensive new opportunities for students and faculty scholarship and research.

She is responsible for the initiative — working in conjunction with IU Health — to consolidate the medical sciences, nursing, social work, and speech, language and hearing sciences in the new Health Sciences Building collocated with the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital, which will in turn allow these programs to grow and produce more graduates in these much-in-demand clinical areas.

She has been acutely aware of the importance of engaging in a meaningful way in the life of the southwest region of the state where the campus is located. She established the Center for Rural Engagement to focus the extensive resources of the campus on problems, issues and opportunities in this region, visiting all the counties in this region multiple times to work with local officials and residents.

She has passionately supported the arts and humanities through the Arts & Humanities initiative centered around the new Cook Center in Maxwell Hall, as well as initiatives to involve the whole campus in the arts and humanities, such as First Thursdays and the semester-long Global Remixed programs which have highlighted IU’s long and rich history of international engagement.

She has played a vital role in the planning, repurposing, renovation and construction involving over 100 facilities and buildings on the campus, always showing an acute sensitivity to the needs of students and faculty. Her work on the comprehensive renovation and expansion of student residences, especially following the mold outbreak of a few years ago, has been especially vital.

She was an outstanding dean of the Maurer School of Law from 2002 to 2011 and played a major role in securing the gift that named the school in 2008. She also secured numerous other large gifts and attracted many excellent faculty, leading the Maurer School to become one of the most highly ranked public university law schools in the country. The regard in which she was held was such that she also served as president of the Association of American Law Schools.

She played a major role in the establishment of the Big Ten Academic Alliance consisting of all the Big Ten provosts. She presently chairs this body and has been very active in the meetings of the AAU provosts.

And finally, Lauren Robel has been one of the true heroes of the pandemic. In the most difficult of circumstances, she has provided outstanding leadership for the campus and IU more generally, almost without a break for the past year. She has attended to every detail and complexity with enormous skill and devotion, always focused on our twin goals of the health and safety of the campus community and the continuation of our academic enterprise. She deserves the most grateful thanks of all of us for her service to Indiana University, and we all wish her the very best for her future endeavors.

Next steps

I intend to appoint an interim provost by the end of next week to serve from July 1, 2021, until the new IU president decides on how they want to fill this position permanently. I will consult with the IU Bloomington deans, senior campus administrators, Bloomington Faculty Council Executive Committee, student government and others for their suggestions as to people who have the experience and qualifications to serve in this role.

Michael A. McRobbie

Indiana University