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IU president, first lady receive honorary IU degrees

For Immediate Release May 11, 2021

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The president who has led Indiana University for nearly 14 years and the university’s accomplished first lady now have two new honors to add to their numerous distinctions.

Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie and IU first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie were each awarded an honorary degree – the highest academic honor IU can bestow – during IU Bloomington’s spring undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 8. President McRobbie received an honorary Doctor of Science and first lady McRobbie received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of their numerous distinguished achievements in higher education leadership.

Michael A. McRobbie and Laurie Burns McRobbie on stage to receive honorary degrees.
Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie received an honorary Doctor of Science, and IU first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

The degrees were awarded by Michael J. Mirro, chairman of the IU Board of Trustees, on the recommendation and approval of the board, the faculty Honorary Degrees Committee and the University Faculty Council.

“Michael and Laurie McRobbie possess unique individual skills and talents, which enabled their efforts to contribute to the recent historic success of Indiana University,” Mirro said. “We have been honored to have them serve.”

President McRobbie will retire in June after 14 years as president and 24 years in senior positions at IU. During his tenure as IU’s 18th president, the university has been recognized for its leadership across a wide range of key areas, including student success, research and scholarly excellence, information technology, community engagement, international education, health sciences and the state’s economic development.

He came to IU in 1997 from his native Australia as its first vice president for information technology and chief information officer. Now a U.S. citizen, he was appointed vice president for research in 2003 and named interim provost and vice president for academic affairs for IU Bloomington in 2006. He became president on July 1, 2007, currently making him one of the longest-serving university presidents in the country.

Last week, President McRobbie delivered his final annual State of the University address, in which he reviewed the extensive changes that have taken place at IU over his 14 years. During his address to members of the IU community, he said that after this year’s spring 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.

As IU’s 18th first lady, Laurie Burns McRobbie has been an active ambassador for IU and its extensive alumni community, with a particular focus on philanthropy, technology and the growing influence of women. She is a founder of the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council at the Indiana University Foundation and serves as its honorary chair. In 2012, she was named Woman of the Year by the city of Bloomington’s Commission on the Status of Women, and in 2018 she was given the Women Excel Bloomington Award by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce.

A technologist in higher education for more than 25 years, she was an executive director of Internet2 and holds an adjunct faculty position in the IU Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, where she helped found what is now the Laurie Burns McRobbie ServeIT Clinic. She also played a crucial role in the establishment of the IU Center of Excellence for Women and Technology, which seeks to create, foster and improve academic and professional opportunities for female students, faculty and staff working in or with technology. She also holds an adjunct faculty position in the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, where she earned a master’s degree in philanthropic studies in 2016.

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