Before beginning his address, IU President Michael McRobbie asked everyone to stand for a moment of silence for Yaolin Wang and Joseph Smedley, two IU students who have died recently.
“It is fitting that we keep Yaolin, Joseph and their families, as well as the victims of the Umpqua Community College shooting and their families, in our thoughts,” McRobbie said.
This remembrance began McRobbie’s State of the University Address on Tuesday in the Whittenberger Auditorium.
The progress on and plans for IU’s Bicentennial Strategic Plan dominated most of the discussion.
“The first bicentennial priority is to further reinforce IU’s already strong commitment to student success, which is the very core of Indiana University’s mission,” McRobbie said.
McRobbie said the Bicentennial Strategic Plan calls on the University to maximize its capacity for scholarship and research activity.
He described recent research achievements IU has accomplished. He said in the fiscal year 2015, IU research received $541 million in external research funding, making it the highest amount for all Indiana public research universities and the second highest in IU’s history.
He said IU had 183 patents issued this fiscal year, a record number for IU.
“This figure is an indication of the important role that IU plays in contributing to the economic well-being of the state of Indiana and the ability of our faculty to translate cutting edge research into informational technologies,” McRobbie said.
McRobbie also explained the recent announcement of IU’s research program, the Grand Challenges program.
“These problems all address challenges that are simply too big to ignore,” McRobbie said.
The Bicentennial Strategic Plan also calls on IU to continue to build on its history of engagement in international education. The goals of these efforts include preparing students for the world of tomorrow by expanding study abroad opportunities.
“The need for individuals who have cultural understanding and experience and the ability to work productively with people from different cultures and traditions has never been greater,” McRobbie said. “The world has not seemed this perilous for 70 years.”
The newly announced For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign, a campaign to raise $2.5 billion by 2020, was also discussed.
This campaign is IU’s first university-wide, philanthropic program involving all IU campuses and one of the largest ever by a public university in this country.
Other major changes coming to IU are the additions of IU’s health centers and programs. IU will invest $1 billion to consolidate Indianapolis’ two hospitals into one state-of-the-art facility, McRobbie said.
IU will also invest $300 million in the new IU Health hospital built on the Bloomington campus, as well as a new medical education building.
“It is said that building a hospital is a once-in-a-century occurrence,” McRobbie said. “To be part of building two new hospitals represents a really extraordinary opportunity for Indiana University.”
McRobbie described some of the changes to academic programs in recent years that have already occurred, and said these changes are far-reaching.
One of these changes is the addition of the engineering program at IU-Bloomington. McRobbie said this addition was necessary for the IU campus to reach its full potential in research and the sciences. A recent study that stated there needed to be more science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduates in Southern Indiana, McRobbie said.
IU will accept the first students in this program for the fall of 2016, which would allow the first class in this program to graduate in the bicentennial year.
McRobbie also discussed student debts and the affordability of IU’s education. He explained the steps that IU has taken to ensure IU’s education remains affordable and accessible.
One of these steps is freezing tuition for all in-state, undergraduate students at IU for the next two years.
“The affordability of IU education and control and production of student debt has always been of the utmost importance and highest priority of Indiana University,” McRobbie said.
McRobbie ended his address by sharing the promise that IU was founded on in 1820: the promise to expand and enrich the cultural, social and economic life of the citizens and community of Indiana by an institution of higher education.
“Over two centuries, IU has consistently redeemed that promise,” McRobbie said.