From the Desk: President McRobbie discusses university's top priorities

Tuesday was a big day for Indiana University and the state of Indiana.

As Indiana's flagship public university, we continue to rise to the challenge of serving the needs of our students and employing our resources to directly benefit Hoosiers across the state. 

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IU President Michael A. McRobbie delivered his annual State of the University address Oct. 10 on the IUPUI campus. Photo by Liz Kaye, IU Communications

I was joined Tuesday morning by Gov. Eric Holcomb to announce IU's third recipient of funding through our Grand Challenges Program. This latest initiative, Responding to the Addictions Crisis, will leverage IU's world-class faculty in collaboration with others around the state, including businesses, nonprofits, government partners and IU Health, to address the substance abuse crisis in an effort to prevent and reduce addictions in our state. This initiative will be led by Distinguished Professor Robin Newhouse, dean of the IU School of Nursing, and it will tackle one of the most critical issues affecting Hoosiers through comprehensive action that will ultimately save lives.

While we seek to improve the health and quality of life of our state, IU also continues to be strongly committed to the success of its students.

In my annual State of the University address on Tuesday, I announced a number of new universitywide initiatives to benefit student learning by ensuring excellence in teaching. As we lead up to IU's bicentennial celebration in the 2019-20 academic year, we will invest our educational resources in -- and renew our commitment to -- quality instruction that will produce Hoosier graduates who are prepared to succeed in the workforce and strengthen their communities as active, informed citizens.

This new initiative will build on the foundation already established by IU's excellent faculty and further improve our instructional community through a review of programs that support teaching and learning on each campus and in each school's academic programs; an effort to translate first-rate research on learning to improve teaching practices; the creation of a new academic designation to recognize IU's outstanding instructors; an evaluation of current teaching awards; establishment of small, "prototyping" grants to support the instructional ingenuity of full-time faculty; and development of new pathways focused on teaching excellence for tenure and promotion.

I also addressed our university's collections, an estimated 30 million individual material objects that provide invaluable scholarly, educational and cultural resources that benefit our entire university community.

To make progress on achieving management, curation and cataloging of these valuable collections by the IU Bicentennial, I have charged the Office of the Vice President for Research to develop a plan with campus academic leadership to ensure the university's collections are housed, maintained, utilized and curated properly. Another goal of this initiative is to increase knowledge of these important collections, so they can advance IU's research and teaching missions as well as be more fully appreciated by the IU community and general public.

I have also recommended that our IU Bicentennial Steering Committee explore the development of a Museum of Indiana University that would be located on the Bloomington campus and would serve as an informational hub for IU, a center for visitors and offer all IU campuses an opportunity to feature rotating exhibitions to chronicle and showcase IU's nearly 200 years of history.

As IU draws closer to its bicentennial, these new efforts -- combined with the many contributions we have already made to serve our students, our community and our state -- ensure we will hold steadfast to our university's mission to improve the lives and the world for generations to come.

Michael A. McRobbie is president of Indiana University.