Change, renewal and building upon IU's traditions

President's Update
By Michael A. McRobbie

Dear Friend of Indiana University:

When I became president of Indiana University a decade ago, I described IU’s history as a “story of change in response to the demands of the time.” Ours has been, I said in my inaugural address in 2007, an unwavering pursuit of academic excellence in teaching, discovery and creative activity—combined with a willingness to engage in change and renewal—to ensure that IU will continue to be known as one of the world’s greatest universities.

Today, nearly 10 years later, I am extremely proud to say that IU remains even more committed to the educational and service missions that have made it such a positive force in the life of our state, nation and world. And we have embraced thoughtful and bold change that both builds upon IU’s longstanding strengths and traditions and bolsters our future.

We have worked together to establish learning environments on all of our campuses that give our students every opportunity to succeed. We have re-envisioned our schools and programs so they provide a relevant education of lasting value. We have ensured that an IU education remains affordable, and we have adopted practices and policies that encourage our students to persist to graduation and complete their degrees on time.

Indeed, we have much to celebrate, but as indicated by a very busy beginning to the fall semester, which has already included many major events, we at IU are not accustomed to standing still. That is why for nearly two years we have been hard at work planning IU’s bicentennial celebration, which will be held during the 2019-20 academic year. And that is why, even as we work to carefully preserve our great traditions and unmatched heritage, we continue to engage in a comprehensive effort to enhance the character of our campuses, ensure that they remain magnets for the best and most deserving students and elevate IU’s constantly growing reputation.

New Beginnings: Breaking ground for Dentistry, a new home for The Media School

As September came to a close, two major ceremonial events offered yet more compelling evidence of IU's commitment to change and renewal and providing students with outstanding environments for teaching, learning and research.

On Sept. 23, in Indianapolis, we broke ground on a new expansion site for the IU School of Dentistry, Indiana's only school of dentistry, one of the oldest dental schools in the nation and one with a rich legacy of teaching, research and service programs that have made major contributions to the promotion of optimal oral health nationally and internationally.

The much-needed expansion, the first for over 40 years, will provide state-of-the-art clinics for the school, which has been operating in facilities that were built in the 1930s, 1960s and 1970s. The additional space will substantially increase the school’s clinical capacity and make the IU School of Dentistry, which provides treatment to more than 30,000 patients a year, one of the most technologically advanced dental schools in the country.

The new expansion will also enable IU to better serve the educational needs of our state in dentistry. More than 80 percent of dentists practicing in the state of Indiana are alumni of the IU School of Dentistry, and among the 211 students in the school’s Class of 2016 were 100 students who graduated with DDS degrees, 77 of whom were Indiana residents.

Each year the school produces similar numbers of new dentists, as well as dental hygienists, dental assistants and other specialists, many of whom continue to practice in the Hoosier state throughout their professional careers. Recently, the school received more than 1,400 applications for 106 spots in the DDS Class of 2020, illustrating the considerable demand for the quality education that the school provides.

Four days later, on Sept. 27, we celebrated the splendid renovation of IU Bloomington's Franklin Hall, which is serving as home for one of IU's newest schools, The Media School.

The Media School, inaugurated in 2014, has brought together IU’s programs in journalism, communication and culture, telecommunications and film studies in response to the dramatic change the media environment has undergone in recent years.

The 109-year old building that now houses the school features remarkable state-of-the-art technologies that provide our students and faculty with the resources they need to meet the evolving challenges of today’s media landscape. These include 20 editing suites, 10 research labs, seven classroom computer labs, five game design labs, three open labs, two video production suites, a film screening studio and an audio studio.

At the center of the building is a magnificent, open-concept atrium commons area, where students can work, study and converse, at least when they are not staring up at the room's striking centerpiece: a 24-by-12.5-foot video screen that can display a single feed or can be divided to broadcast up to six different displays.

Among the many individuals who expressed their admiration of and appreciation for our new facilities was Joseph "Joe" Buck, the seven-time Emmy Award-winning sports broadcaster and former IU student, whom we were pleased to present with an honorary doctoral degree during the ceremony to rededicate Franklin Hall.

It was especially gratifying to hear Buck, in his distinctly familiar broadcast voice, one that has described so many memorable sports moments, offer such a sterling review of the building's broadcast studio:

“I walked into that studio and I was blown away,” he said. “I can tell you I’ve worked in the supposed best places in New York and the best studios in L.A. and you go down to Nashville and all these places. That is, I can tell you, as nice or nicer than anyone I’ve ever been in."

I would encourage you to view this wonderful video about the transformation of Franklin Hall, narrated by another recent IU honorary degree recipient who conducted his studies at IU, acclaimed actor Jonathan Banks.

Revitalizing the Old Crescent

In addition to Franklin Hall, several other iconic buildings of IU Bloomington's Old Crescent—the historic core of the Bloomington campus—are also coming fully back to life again or being transformed for new student-centered purposes. In doing so, they are providing much needed contemporary resources to support the education and research mission of the university, as well as the extensive academic transformation that has been underway at IU.

The map room of the adjacent Student Building was renovated, in 2013, to house the new Collaborative Learning Studio, a truly superb high-tech classroom. And just several days ago, we renamed the Student Building in honor of Frances Morgan Swain, the wife of IU’s ninth president, Joseph Swain, and a driving force behind the creation of that building. Speakers at the naming ceremony included four prominent women on the IU Bloomington campus: my wife, first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie, who led the effort to rename the building in Swain’s honor; Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel, who was the Maurer School of Law’s first-ever female dean; Vice Provost for Student Affairs Lori Reesor, IU’s first female dean of students; and Sara Zaheer, president of IU’s student body.

In 2014, we celebrated the renovation of Owen Hall, one of IU Bloomington’s two oldest buildings, which is now home to the administration of the College of Arts and Sciences, IU’s oldest and largest academic division. Additionally, we are finishing work on the renovation of Kirkwood Hall, and members of the new School of Art and Design are moving into this building, which will be their new home, as I write. There have been no major renovations to this building for over 50 years.

Work also recently began on the first-ever major renovation of Swain Hall, which was built between 1910 and 1940 and houses IU Bloomington’s Department of Physics and Department of Astronomy, as well as the conversion back to student dormitories of three of the four buildings that comprise the Wells Quad.

As I have said on several recent occasions, it gives me great pleasure to look out of window of my office in Bryan Hall and see students streaming out of Franklin Hall, which has once again become a center of vibrant activity on the Bloomington campus.

Guiding innovation

In my last update, I shared some of our record-setting successes in patenting, licensing and earning revenue from discoveries made at IU and, more broadly, in fostering Indiana's culture of creativity and innovation.

As further testament to our efforts, IU has once again been ranked among the world's 50 most innovative universities, and we have risen 12 spots above last year’s performance in a Reuters News analysis of patent and publishing data from more than 600 research institutions worldwide.

The latest findings of The Reuters 100: The World’s Most Innovative Universities ranks IU 37th worldwide and 25th among U.S. universities. Ten of the Top 100 universities, including IU, are part of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, an academic consortium formerly known as the Committee on Institutional Cooperation.

This ranking is a tribute to the exceptional work of IU's first-rate faculty. Their pioneering research is leading to the creation of innovative new products and processes for the marketplace and driving economic growth and innovation throughout our state.

It also confirms our standing as an economic powerhouse in Indiana, reflecting the increasing success we have had in transforming the lives of people here and around the world.

Building IU's international heritage

As illustrated in this video, Indiana University is, unquestionably, one of the world's great international universities.

Our Bicentennial Strategic Plan calls on IU to continue to build on a distinguished history of engagement in international activity and scholarship that goes back at least 100 years. The goals of these efforts include helping to better prepare our students for the world of tomorrow by expanding opportunities for study abroad that often translate into life-changing experiences. A vibrant international student population, drawn from many countries, also makes major contributions to diversifying our campuses and enriching everyone's educational experience.

At IU, we are especially proud of the leading role we continue to play in our state’s and also America’s international engagement. This is why I was greatly honored to recently accept—on behalf of IU and all of the people who have contributed so mightily over the years to building our university's international heritage—the International Citizen of the Year Award from The International Center, which, for more than four decades, has worked to expand our state's global engagement.

As I said in my acceptance remarks, this honor reflects the work we have done collectively at IU to develop the university as a center for the world’s leading scholars and practitioners in global and international studies, ensure that we have internationally engaged faculty and provide our students with knowledge about the world that is essential to their success in today's increasingly interconnected global marketplace.

These efforts include:

  • requiring a mandatory international component for every student as part of his or her IU education;
  • doubling, over the last decade, the number of IU students who study abroad, and where we now see that about a third of IU Bloomington students have studied abroad by the time they have graduated;
  • welcoming a large and diverse international student body who now come from over 150 countries;
  • building strong and active partnerships (now numbering around 200) with the best foreign universities in the world;
  • building 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 pre-eminent centers of research and scholarship in foreign and international affairs, which we are rapidly achieving through our new School of Global and International Studies;
  • supporting and encouraging our faculty from all disciplines in engaging internationally; and
  • growing the IU Global Gateway Network, which now includes offices in Beijing, Berlin and New Delhi, to help focus and concentrate our activities in key regions of the world.

Our goal is to have several more global gateway offices established by the university's bicentennial. These offices have become a vital part of the university’s international strategy and our international engagement.

To echo IU's legendary 11th president Herman B Wells, once we get all of these offices established, then “the sun will never set on Indiana University."

Celebrating IU Homecoming and the legendary Marching Hundred

Whether they live in Bloomington, Berlin or Beijing, IU alumni know they can always call the university home.

And no matter how much transformation takes place at IU, one enduring tradition is our Homecoming celebration, which highlights the best of IU's storied past and dynamic present.

This year's IU Homecoming in Bloomington will be held on Oct. 14-15 and once again feature several exciting events and activities where IU alumni and friends can proudly demonstrate their IU pride and spirit. These will include the traditional Homecoming parade, but for the first time its route will be along the newly opened Woodlawn Avenue starting at 17th Street on the athletics campus. IUPUI will hold a week of Homecoming events, from Oct. 22-30.

As always, Homecoming provides us with an opportunity to honor IU alumni who have made major contributions in their communities. This year we will recognize four IU alumni with IU's Distinguished Alumni Service Award, the university's highest award given only to an alumna or alumnus. This year's DASA recipients, who are trailblazing figures in the fields of music, community relations, government and law, are Chris Botti, of Encino, Calif.; Moses Gray, of Indianapolis; Richard A. Reed, resident in Saudi Arabia; and Lorna Schofield, of New York City.

For former members and the legions of fans of our legendary Marching Hundred band, this year we will celebrate the naming of and groundbreaking for the Ray E. Cramer Marching Hundred Hall during the IU Homecoming parade. This much-needed facility, to be named after its former director and the longtime director of bands at the IU Jacobs School of Music, will provide a proper practice home for one of IU's most cherished institutions, which dates back to IU’s first 22-piece band in 1896. Today, there are about 4,000 alumni of the Marching Hundred, winner, several years ago, of the Sudler Intercollegiate Marching Band Trophy, the nation’s highest and most coveted award for collegiate marching bands.

Remembering David Fulton

Last month, we were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former IU East Chancellor David Fulton, a fine university citizen and beloved figure on the campus and in the Richmond, Ind., community. Over his more than three decades at IU East, David played an instrumental role in the development of the campus as a major educational resource in east central Indiana.

It was my privilege at last spring’s IU East Commencement to award him the President’s Medal for Excellence in recognition of his outstanding service to IU and to IU East. All of us at IU are grateful for the remarkable legacy he leaves, and we extend our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to his family and friends.

Moving Forward

As I told members of the IU community in my State of the University address last month, the enormous positive change we have enacted across the university, about which I try to keep you informed in my monthly updates, have all contributed to the continuing transformation of IU into what our tenth President William Lowe Bryan called the "complete university."

Our recent accomplishments in teaching, research and service to our state and the changes we have made in response to the educational and employment needs of the communities we serve would not have been possible without the continued support of generations of faculty and staff, students, alumni and friends who share our commitment to excellence and to fulfilling the promise that an IU education remains a best way forward to future success. And for all of this we remain deeply grateful.

With thanks as always,

Michael A. McRobbie
Indiana University