IU president outlines progress made on bicentennial priorities in annual State of University address 

  • Oct. 6, 2015


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Nearly one year after presenting the first draft of the Bicentennial Strategic Plan for Indiana University -- a document that brought together and built upon a number of university-wide strategic planning efforts -- IU President Michael A. McRobbie described the enormous progress being made on many of the plan's priorities, including strengthening the university's commitment to student success and maximizing its capacity for research, scholarship and creative activity.

McRobbie devoted the majority of his annual State of the University address today to highlighting a number of major recent accomplishments and activities that align with the goals of the Bicentennial Strategic Plan, which IU trustees approved in December. The plan includes eight broad priorities on which the university will be focused leading up to the 2019-20 academic year and its bicentennial celebration.

Speaking from the Indiana Memorial Union's Whittenberger Auditorium on the IU Bloomington campus, McRobbie also noted that massive transformation has taken place at IU in less than a decade, including the establishment or reconfiguration of eight new schools and a new engineering program in Bloomington; the construction or renovation of nearly 70 major facilities on IU campuses around the state; and the opening of two new global gateway offices in China and India, with a third scheduled to open next month in Germany. 

"All of this extraordinary change is focused with the greatest single-mindedness on our two paramount missions: providing students with the best, most contemporary and most affordable education possible and pursuing transformative research and scholarship at the highest level of excellence," McRobbie said. "All of this is being done in service to our state and its regions, our nation and the world. We aspire to learn, to know, to teach, to heal, to build and to guide, as our forebears have done for nearly 200 years."

During his 40-minute address to faculty and staff, McRobbie discussed progress made toward each of the priorities included in the Bicentennial Strategic Plan, as well as achievements in related areas.

Roughly half of the speech focused on the plan's first priority and IU's efforts to reinforce its commitment to student success by realigning new programs and creating new schools; taking steps to ensure that an IU education remains accessible and affordable; initiating a complete overhaul of career and academic advising; and working to create a safe environment for learning and living.

Among the specific areas McRobbie highlighted in his address were:

  • Affordability and student debt: IU has taken a number of steps in recent years to ensure that all academically qualified students are able to participate in programs that are of high quality, are accessible and are affordable. These steps include a three-fold increase in institutional financial aid for undergraduate students over the past eight years that, along with donor support, has kept the average net-cost of attendance at IU Bloomington the lowest among the 13 public universities in the Big Ten. IU's Finish in Four completion award, established in 2013, effectively froze tuition for junior and senior students on track to graduate in four years, and, in the most recent biennium, IU froze tuition for all in-state undergraduate students at IU Bloomington for the next two years. Additionally, IU's groundbreaking MoneySmarts financial literacy program, which has garnered nationwide acclaim, has helped reduce IU student borrowing by more than 16 percent over three years, resulting in an approximately $82.5 million reduction in student borrowing over that period.
  • A commitment to student success: In addition to establishing or reconfiguring eight new schools, IU has initiated the development of a new program in intelligent systems engineering in Bloomington, following an internal task force report and at the recommendation of an external Blue Ribbon Committee. The committee concluded that the program, which was approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education in August, was critical to support the research needs of current IU faculty, to educate students effectively in STEM fields and applied technology, and to foster collaboration with other research universities and programs across the state, nation and world. IU will admit the first cohort of students in bachelor's and doctoral programs next fall semester.
  • Academic and career advising: All IU campuses now employ pervasive academic advising of students, supported by the IU Graduation Progress System, including degree mapping, early alerts, degree audit and analytics, which is helping to increase graduation rates and reduce the time to degree completion. IU continues to look for ways to support career counseling and development through new campus programs and initiatives. To this end, last week, the university announced it had received a $20 million gift from Conrad Prebys, a San Diego real estate developer and an alumnus of the Kelley School of Business, to fund a new undergraduate career services center in the Kelley School of Business.
  • Student welfare and conduct: In the spring, IU university adopted a comprehensive policy on sexual misconduct that describes the university’s prohibition of all forms of sexual harassment and sex- and gender-based discrimination, including rape and sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, sexual exploitation and stalking. The university also established a new Student Welfare Executive Council, which brings together senior IU officers with relevant responsibilities, along with students, to ensure that the many aspects of student welfare are addressed and coordinated and that important issues receive priority attention from top university administrators.
  • Commitment to diversity: IU's focused effort to recruit students from diverse cultural backgrounds has resulted in record minority enrollment this fall at its campuses in Bloomington and Indianapolis. Minority enrollment of domestic students is at a record high of 21.9 percent of total enrollment on the Bloomington campus and 24.9 percent of total enrollment on the IUPUI campus. To build further on IU’s efforts to foster diversity, the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs has engaged a consulting group to conduct a thorough assessment of IU's progress on diversity and inclusion across the university.
  • Catalyzing research: IU researchers received $541 million in external research funding in fiscal year 2015, the highest total of external research funding brought in by any public research university in the state during the last fiscal year and higher than the totals for all of the other public universities in Indiana combined. IU also recently announced the most ambitious research program in the university's history. Over the next five years, IU will invest at least $300 million in the Grand Challenges research program to develop transformative solutions for some of the planet’s most pressing problems. 
  • International dimension of excellence: IU continues to increase the number of students who serve and study abroad and focus its international engagement efforts on countries where the university has large numbers of alumni, large numbers of students studying abroad and successful academic partnerships. IU also receives most of its international students from these countries. Additionally, last year IU opened its first two international gateway offices, in China and India, which are serving as IU's "front door" in these important parts of the world. Next month, IU will celebrate the opening of its third international gateway office in Germany.
  • Excellence in health sciences and health care: Recently, IU and its partner IU Health have made a number of major announcements about their future investment in strengthening health sciences research and education to improve the health of citizens of Indiana and the nation. Earlier this year, IU Health announced it would invest approximately $1 billion to consolidate its two existing downtown hospitals into one new state-of-the-art facility. A medical education building, funded by IU Health, will also be constructed and co-located with the hospital as part of this initiative and house faculty and students from the IU School of Medicine. IU will also construct a large research facility as part of the overall academic health center. In April, IU and IU Health announced that the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital would be built on the IU Bloomington campus and become part of a new regional academic health center that will help address the state’s growing shortage of medical and health science professionals. The center will include a new medical education building, which will provide much-needed space for IU Bloomington's health-related programs, many of which lack dedicated and specialized classroom space.
  • Excellence in advancement: Last month, IU launched For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign, the university's first-ever university-wide philanthropic campaign, which has set a record goal of $2.5 billion to be raised by 2020. The highlight of the campaign launch was a $20 million gift from David Jacobs in support of the Jacobs School of Music, which was named by a gift from his late mother in 2005. To date, the campaign, which supports four broad university priorities that reflect the goals of the Bicentennial Strategic Plan, has raised nearly $1.2 billion with the participation of over 200,000 donors.
  • Building for excellence: IU is in the midst of the most active period of building and renovation in the university's history, with nearly 70 major facilities constructed or renovated. The total value of these projects is approaching $2 billion, approximately 70 percent of which has been funded by private or internal university sources. As it builds new facilities, such as the new Global and International Studies Building, which the university will dedicate next week, IU continues to focus on efficient and environmentally conscious design and operation, with a goal of guaranteeing all major new buildings to be certified at the LEED Gold level. Currently, IU Bloomington has more LEED Certified Buildings than any institution in the Big Ten.

McRobbie opened his speech by expressing sympathy, on behalf of the entire IU community, to the families and friends of IU students Yaolin Wang and Joseph Smedley II, who died tragically last week, and to the families and friends of the victims of the shooting last week at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College.

The full text of McRobbie's address is available online. To view an archived broadcast of the State of the University, go to

Related Links

IU President Michael A. McRobbie delivering his 2015 State of the University address.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie delivering his 2015 State of the University address.

Print-Quality Photo

Media Contacts

Mark Land

Associate vice president, IU Communications

Ryan Piurek