IU president highlights major new initiatives to benefit student learning, state prosperity

By IU Communications

INDIANAPOLIS -- During his annual State of the University address today, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie reported on the university's continued progress in serving the needs of its students and the state. He highlighted a new strategic effort to strengthen teaching and learning on all IU campuses and talked about a major investment in research that will contribute to the state's prosperity and to raising the standard of living for the people of Indiana and beyond.

McRobbie shared an announcement, made this morning with Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, about IU's newest and third Grand Challenges research program, a five-year, $50 million investment in addressing the substance abuse crisis in Indiana and throughout the U.S. The Responding to the Addictions Crisis initiative, which will engage a broad array of IU's world-class faculty, as well as business, nonprofit and government partners, is one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive state-based responses to the opioid addiction crisis and the largest led by a university.

Additionally, McRobbie unveiled a major new universitywide initiative, leading up to IU's bicentennial celebration in the 2019-20 academic year, to dramatically strengthen the quality of teaching and learning on all IU campuses and use IU's educational resources fully and pervasively. This will ensure the continued success of efforts to produce more Hoosier graduates prepared to thrive in the workforce.

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

"Excellent teaching doesn't just happen. It can be taught, learned, modeled, practiced, improved and updated. It must be valued and nourished. We must translate IU's educational commitment, investment and research into pervasive teaching excellence. All IU students should graduate feeling that consistently excellent instruction was at the heart of their college experience."

'Indiana's higher education powerhouse'

Speaking from the IUPUI campus, McRobbie outlined several recent achievements that have helped advance the major priorities of a university that he described as "Indiana's higher education powerhouse" for providing a high-quality education and producing more and better graduates in areas of importance to the state and nation.

McRobbie said the university continues to keep an IU education affordable with tuition increases at historically low levels and the net cost of attendance low compared with peer institutions. IU financial assistance provided to resident undergraduate students has increased 189 percent since 2007, and the university has pioneered a number of financial literacy programs that are national models and have resulted in savings to students of $100 million over the past four years.

IU has also established a number of new schools and academic programs in key areas for the state and nation in design, architecture, engineering, public health, international studies, media and philanthropy.

IU's enrollment, McRobbie said, reflects the success of these efforts. This fall, the university is serving more than 112,000 students statewide, an enrollment that once again includes more Hoosier students than any other college or university in Indiana. IU's fall enrollment includes 20,053 domestic minority students who are seeking an IU degree -- a new record for diversity at IU, which represents nearly a doubling of minority students over the past decade. Additionally, the IU Bloomington and IUPUI campuses welcomed their largest, most academically accomplished and most diverse freshman classes ever this fall.

Once again, IU set a new record number in philanthropic giving, receiving $462.3 million last academic year. IU has now achieved record levels of success in this arena each of the last four years, and it is well ahead of its goal of raising $2.5 billion by the university's bicentennial.

McRobbie also spotlighted the success of IU's distance education effort, including its IU Online initiative. IU Online was established in 2012 to coordinate all of the university's online education efforts to help students successfully balance school, work, family and other responsibilities.

This fall at IU, a record 5,066 students are enrolled in more than 115 online degrees and over 2,000 online courses offered by IU, a 4 percent increase over last year's record. And more than 29,000 IU students -- nearly a third of IU's total student body -- are enrolled in at least one online course. Those courses account for more than one-tenth of all university credit hours and matching revenue.

Ensuring excellence in teaching and learning, leveraging university assets

During his address to IU faculty and staff, McRobbie introduced a new initiative to ensure "pervasive excellence in teaching and learning" across the university. The initiative will translate IU's commitment to its core missions of education and research and leverage its existing pedagogical resources, many of which are now centrally housed on a newly launched website, teaching.iu.edu.

This effort will include:

  • A universitywide review, conducted by faculty, students and staff, of all of IU's campus and universitywide programs that support teaching and learning.
  • A review of each school's academic programs to foster a pervasive use of best practices in teaching and learning, assess the effectiveness of these practices, and ensure that first-generation and at-risk students receive the support they need to persist and complete their degrees.
  • An effort to translate excellent research on learning at IU into improved instructional practices at IU.
  • The creation of a new academic designation, such as "Master Teacher," as a way of recognizing IU's finest teachers.
  • An evaluation of current teaching awards to ensure they are appropriately relevant, selective and recognized.
  • The establishment of small, "prototyping" grants to support full-time faculty experimenting with new techniques in teaching and learning.
  • The development of new well-defined, rigorous pathways for tenure and promotion based specifically on excellence in teaching.

McRobbie concluded his address by announcing that IU would develop a plan to properly house, maintain, utilize and curate the university's vast material objects collections -- estimated to contain about 30 million individual objects if books are included. Many of these collections are underdeveloped and underutilized, McRobbie said, but constitute a resource of enormous scholarly, educational and cultural importance to the IU community.

"They could become even more important to IU's research and education mission, opening up numerous new opportunities for study, scholarship and exhibitions," he said.

McRobbie added that the university is exploring the feasibility of developing a Museum of Indiana University on the Bloomington campus. As a special bicentennial project, the museum would chronicle and showcase IU's history, drawing from existing archival holdings of papers, objects and collections from the past two centuries and collaborating with other museums and galleries on all IU campuses on rotating exhibitions.

This was McRobbie's 11th State of University speech since becoming IU president in 2007. The full text of McRobbie's 2017 address is available online. For an archived broadcast of the State of the University, go to broadcast.iu.edu.