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IU Bicentennial Ceremony celebrates past achievements, looks to next century



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Professor Arthur Fagen directs the IU Philharmonic Orchestra on Sept. 28 in the IU Auditorium. The orchestra played during the IU Bicentennial Ceremony. Izzy Myszak Buy Photos

Students, staff, faculty and alumni gathered Saturday at the IU Auditorium to celebrate the achievements of the last 200 years and look ahead at what the next century will bring for IU. 

The first speaker at the IU Bicentennial Ceremony was Indiana Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. Crouch introduced the event, gave her congratulations to IU and introduced IU’s Jacobs School of Music philharmonic orchestra. 

Guest speaker Indiana Rep. Susan W. Brooks, R-5th District, said the IU bicentennial will be a part of the Congressional Record forever. The Congressional Record is the official record of all proceedings and debates held within each congressional session. 

“Hoosiers are everywhere, doing incredible things,” Congresswoman Brooks said.  

The next speaker was IU alumna and actress Tan Kheng Hua. Hua is most widely known for her role in the 2018 blockbuster film "Crazy Rich Asians". Hua spoke about first becoming interested in acting while attending IU. She took an introductory acting class and said she was inspired by the film "Breaking Away." However, she didn’t pursue acting until several years after graduating and returning to Singapore. 

The next performance came from IU’s a cappella group Straight No Chaser. Straight No Chaser came to Bloomington to celebrate the bicentennial and debuted its original song “Indiana We’re All for You,” written specifically for IU’s celebration. 

IU President Michael McRobbie also spoke at the bicentennial ceremony. McRobbie began by telling the story of IU and how the university was formed from a trackless wilderness.

McRobbie compared the growth of IU’s second century to that of its first, citing that many of the schools and programs were formed as well as IU’s regional campuses that reach across Indiana. IU has also seen enormous growth of enrollment, research enterprises and international engagement, he said. 

“Some would say that during this era, IU aimed to be all things to all people, with the idea that higher education would be the great equalizer for students from various backgrounds,” McRobbie said. 

McRobbie also brought up the goals of the university entering its third century. McRobbie hopes to lessen distrust of higher education and shed the image that higher education is only available to the wealthy and privileged. In order to do this, he said, it is more important than ever that IU remains accessible to students from all over the state, no matter their background. 

McRobbie said he believes IU has never been more accessible. IU Online provides an education with great flexibility, IU is giving out record amounts of financial aid, and student debt is falling rapidly, he said. 

McRobbie said the tradition of a liberal education is fundamental to great universities in the United State because it produces creative and innovative student. McRobbie said he believes it's what make IU the university it is today.

He also gave credit to the network of more than 700,000 IU alumni spread across the globe and credits their support as the key to IU’s success, especially its fundraising campaigns. IU’s third century will rely on the continued engagement and support of the alumni community, he said. 

McRobbie is also hoping to change the story during IU’s third century.

“It is time for Indiana University to bear the torch of telling our own story, boasting about our strengths and measuring them against only the best standards we aim to achieve,” McRobbie said. 

After his address, Straight No Chaser, Jacobs School of Music professor Marietta Simpson and the Singing Hoosiers finished the ceremony with IU’s alma mater “Hail to Old IU.”

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