Five things you need to know from the State of the University address

By Rebecca Ellis, Indiana Daily Student

IU President Michael McRobbie gave his yearly State of the University address at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Hine Hall at IUPUI. Here are five topics he discussed.

Attention to opiod crisis

McRobbie announced the third challenge in IU’s Grand Challenges Program: responding to the addiction crisis.

“People are dying, and we must act,” McRobbie said.

There were 1,271 deaths from drug overdoses in 2016. Overdoses kill more people in Indiana than car crashes and gun homicides combined, according to the Indiana Youth Institute.

The challenge budgets $50 million over five years, beginning with $13 million over the next six months. The initiative will be consist of 10 separate projects, McRobbie said, including better understanding of addiction, reducing the availability of opioids and expanding training in the area.

Focus on teaching and learning

McRobbie said teaching means nothing if students are not learning the material. So it is important to not regard students as people to be lectured at but rather an active part of the learning experience, he said.

While IU is already putting an emphasis on the relationship between teaching and learning, leading up to the bicentennial, IU is doubling its efforts to achieve excellence in the area.

The website was recently launched to put IU’s resources in one spot. McRobbie announced seven initiatives including university-wide review of programs, integrating research into learning, creating of a “Master Teacher” distinction, reviewing of the frequency and number of awards and pathways to tenure for teaching excellence.

Emphasis on online education

IU is working to help non traditional students, those with jobs and families who can't go to school full time, while also accommodating those who grew up with technology by putting more emphasis on IU’s online education.

“It is truly an extension of IU’s faculty and curriculum,” McRobbie said.

IU’s program was created five years ago, and now, nearly one-third of IU’s students are enrolled in at least one online course. This fall, there is a record 2,000 online courses.

Preservation of university collections

IU has more than 50 material collections in Wells Library, the Lilly Library, the Eskenazi Museum of Art, the Kinsey Institute and other locations across the seven campuses. There are many more online.

McRobbie said little attention has been paid to these collections, so he announced he is giving responsibility to the Office of the Vice President for Research to make sure they are housed, maintained and utilized. Developing a museum of IU is a possibility, he said.

Move toward Bicentennial

Many topics in the address related to the Bicentennial Strategic Plan, a plan to build on IU’s achievements leading up to its bicentennial. McRobbie said IU is successfully carrying out the plan to renovate all its major buildings.

The University has spent over $2 billion on renovation and construction with over 100 projects on the scale from planned to completed in the last 10 years. IU also received $462.3 million in philanthropic giving, ahead of schedule for raising the goal of $2.5 billion for the Bicentennial Campaign.