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McRobbie: IU is more accessible, affordable and relevant, ready to take ‘next bold step forward’

For Immediate Release May 4, 2021

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – In his final annual State of the University address, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie reviewed the extensive changes that have taken place at IU over his 14 years, which have the university poised for an even brighter, more dynamic future.

IU President McRobbie speaks at a podium in front of a cream-and-crimson IU background
Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie delivers his final State of the University address in Presidents Hall at IU Bloomington.Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

IU’s recent major accomplishments represent “14 years of relentless hard work by hundreds and thousands at IU addressing scores of problems and issues, some previously thought intractable, striving all the time for ever greater excellence,” said McRobbie, who will end his tenure as IU president on June 30. “To all of them, a great debt is owed.

“But we have reached a watershed moment. For the scale and success of what has been achieved have prepared Indiana University to take the next bold step forward to join the very top ranks of the Big Ten and the AAU [Association of American Universities] by building on the excellence achieved over the last 14 years and striving to build even more. This is the opportunity and the challenge that lie tantalizingly within the grasp of IU.”

During his address to members of the IU community, McRobbie said that after this year’s commencement ceremonies, IU will have awarded more than 308,000 IU degrees over the past 14 years. More than 212,000 – about 70 percent – of these degrees were earned by Indiana residents.

IU continues to educate more Indiana residents, by far, than any other college or university in the state, while also providing its students with the most contemporary and relevant educational opportunities possible. Over the past 14 years, 60 percent of all IU degrees have been granted in STEM and business disciplines.

Additionally, across all of IU’s campuses, students of color have earned more than 50,000 degrees in the past 14 years. This total includes a record of more than 5,400 degrees during the current 2020-21 academic year, which is nearly 23 percent of the graduating class. Women have earned the majority of IU degrees (more than 172,500 degrees) over the past 14 years, and they comprise 56 percent of degree recipients during the current academic year.

McRobbie cited several other record-setting accomplishments the university has recently made in furthering the success of its students, including:

  • Increasing IU gift aid for resident undergraduate students by 175 percent between 2007-08 and 2019-20.
  • Generating more than 5,800 undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships through IU’s university-wide Bicentennial Campaign, which concluded in September 2020 after raising nearly $4 billion in support of the university’s top priorities. These represent a more than 45 percent increase over the total created during the university’s entire 190-year history before the campaign.
  • Developing path-breaking student financial literacy programs that are now national models and have resulted in major savings to students. Since the founding of the IU Office of Financial Wellness and Education in 2011-12, student loan borrowing at IU has decreased by $140.6 million, or 21.6 percent.
  • Graduating record numbers of IU students. The university estimates it will grant a record of more than 24,200 degrees this academic year, surpassing the previous record of just under 24,000 in 2018-19.
  • Increasing the percentage of IU students who complete their undergraduate degree within six years from 58 percent to 64 percent.
  • Improving the academic quality of the student body. This year’s incoming class at IU Bloomington had a median GPA of 3.87, the highest in IU history.
  • Welcoming the most diverse class in the university’s 200-year history – a record total of 23,401 students of color who constitute more than a quarter of the total degree-seeking population. This represents a doubling in the number of students of color at IU since 2007.
  • Doubling the number of IU students who study abroad, with IU Bloomington ranking fifth out of about 1,200 universities, in terms of the number of students who studied abroad before the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Keeping tuition increases to historically low levels and implementing banded, or flat-rate, tuition, which has enabled students to take the credits they need for on-time graduation at the same, predictable cost, contributing to increases in four-year graduation rates and student loan debt reduction. Net tuition at IU Bloomington is the second lowest in the Big 10, while IUPUI and IU’s regional campuses also remain highly affordable compared to their peers.

“The ultimate aim of IU’s teaching and learning mission is to ensure the success of our students,” McRobbie said. “Toward this end, we must ensure that an IU education is not only excellent, but also accessible and affordable to every citizen in the state, no matter where they come from, no matter what their background, and no matter who they are. Achieving these goals has been one of IU’s highest priorities during my time as president, and I am enormously pleased with the progress we have made.”

Indiana’s health sciences and research ‘powerhouse’

Speaking Tuesday afternoon to a small in-person audience at Presidents Hall on the IU Bloomington campus, McRobbie also outlined IU’s major progress in athletics, digital preservation, economic development and innovation, the health sciences, human resources, information technology, international engagement, online education, philanthropy, research, and physical facilities and infrastructure.

McRobbie said that IU has recently gone through the most extensive academic restructuring in its more-than-200-year-old history, which has led to the establishment of 10 new schools in less than 10 years and the addition of 589 new degree and certificate programs since 2007. These new programs represent 44 percent of all new degree and certificate programs created by all public institutions in the state over this period. Among these programs, 182 of them, or 30.9 percent, are in STEM fields.

McRobbie described IU as the state’s “powerhouse” in both research and the health sciences. In fiscal year 2020, IU achieved an annual total of $1 billion in external research awards and private philanthropy for the first time in the university’s history. This included a record $854 million in external funding for research and other activities, which was the highest total of external grant funding obtained by any research university in the state during the last fiscal year and far surpassed the highest annual total in IU history.

Much of IU’s record total is funding medical research at the IU School of Medicine, which brought in a total of more than $549 million, up from nearly $434 million in FY 2019. Last year, the school also more than doubled the funding it received from the National Institutes of Health to more than $213 million, improving its national rank in terms of NIH funding to 14th among public medical schools. McRobbie said the school’s research in a number of areas has thrived, with a number of its research programs – including those in neurodegenerative, musculoskeletal and pediatric disease research – now considered to be among the best in the country.

McRobbie highlighted how a record period of building construction and renovation across the university has supported the university’s core missions of education, research and engagement, while dramatically changing the landscapes of its campuses and enhancing campus life. This period includes the completion of a master plan for IU Athletics in Bloomington, which represented an investment, supported by IU donors, of about $250 million over the past 14 years.

McRobbie concluded his remarks by highlighting the major impact that IU’s scholarly and research activities continue to have on the economic well-being of the state. He cited a recent study done by Emsi, a labor market analytics firm and an affiliate of the Strada Education Network, which demonstrated that IU created $9.9 billion in added income for Indiana in fiscal year 2019. The study also indicated that one out of every 26 jobs in Indiana is supported by the activities of IU and its students, and that for every dollar that a student invests in their education at IU, they will receive $3.50 in higher future earnings.

For an archived broadcast of the State of the University, visit

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