IU President Michael A. McRobbie discussed academic transformation, the importance and future of IU Collections, renovations, tuition affordability and other issues during the annual State of the University address Tuesday in Presidents Hall.
Affordability and student debt
One of IU’s main goals is to keep education affordable, McRobbie said. IU has done this is by adopting a flat-rate for undergraduate students. This locks the price for students taking between 12 and 18 credit hours per semester.
McRobbie said IU has also seen a 227% rise in financial assistance for students since 2007. This has helped IU have the second-lowest net cost for attendance in the Big Ten. McRobbie said he was glad to welcome IU's largest and most diverse class in history with over 16,162 freshmen on all campuses and a record number of minority and low income students.
“We are truly the people’s university,” McRobbie said.
IU is also working hard to combat the problem of student debt, McRobbie said. IU has tried to solve this with student loan letters. These letters clearly inform students about the consequences of borrowing money. Since the introduction of these letters, student debt has decreased 19%, annual borrowing has decreased by $126.4 million, and Indiana has adopted legislation that requires every public university to issue these letters to all students with loan debt. Thirteen other states have also adopted this legislation since 2015.
“IU has sought to reduce costs but without sacrificing quality or reducing the high level of services that students expect of us, ” McRobbie said.
Starting in 2011, IU saw the establishment of five new schools at IU-Bloomington.
These schools include the Media School, the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Affairs, Wright School of Education, the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture and Design, which will be officially named next month, and the School of Public Health, which was the first school of public health in Indiana.
McRobbie gives credit to President Myles Brand, who established the School of Informatics in 1999, for leading the way for all of these schools to be formed. In honor of this, the School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering building on 10th Street and Woodlawn Avenue will be renamed Myles Brand Hall.
Many in academic circles argue about the merits and consequences of online education, McRobbie said. Some believe it could spell the end of the traditional model of education, but IU sees online education not as a replacement of the traditional model, but the merging of online education into a hybrid model, McRobbie said.
IU Online was established in 2012. As of the 2019-2020 school year over 31,254 students are taking at least one IU Online course. This is more than a third of the total student body. 8,768 students are exclusively taking online courses, about one-tenth of IU’s total enrollment. IU Online offers 135 degrees and certificate programs and over 2,500 courses.
“Through IU Online, the university has firmly cemented itself as the state's online education powerhouse for four-year and graduate online education,” McRobbie said.
Indiana University’s collections
IU’s collections are among the university’s most precious educational, research and scholarly resources, McRobbie said. It is estimated there are over 120 IU collections with over 50 million objects. IU has also recently named Heather Calloway the first Executive Director of IU Collections.
In parallel with this focus on IU Collections, the Eskenazi Museum of Art is set to reopen next month after a $40 million donation.
Another donation from the Lilly Endowment totaling $11 million will mean the closure of the Lilly Rare Books Library on its 60th anniversary in order to double the space available for research and classrooms. The Lilly Library is set to reopen in 2021.
On top of this, IU will be establishing a new Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology to be formed from the present collections of the Glenn Black Laboratory of Archaeology and the Mathers Museum of World Culture, McRobbie said. The focus will be pre-Columbian Native American civilizations. The central exhibits will hold artifacts from IU’s collection from the Mississippian civilization site in Angel Mounds near Evansville, Indiana. These artifacts date from 1000-1450 C.E. and will also feature objects from the Mathers Collection from civilizations in other parts of the world, McRobbie said.
“The preservation of knowledge, which, along with the creation of knowledge and the dissemination of knowledge, have been the three fundamental missions of universities since they emerged in human cultures over 25 centuries ago,” McRobbie said.
Renovations have been a hot topic on the IU-Bloomington campus over the past several years. McRobbie summarized all the construction and renovation projects that are currently happening or planned. The total on all campuses is over $2.6 billion of renovation and new construction, about 30% of this is funded by the state and 70% funded by IU or external sources, McRobbie said.
Many of these renovation and construction projects involve IU dorms. The McNutt Quad and Foster Quad renovations cost $56 million and should be completed by fall 2020. A new dorm in the Northwest neighborhood will start construction soon and be done by fall 2021. Renovations to Teter Quad, Collins Center, and Wright Quad will be expected to be completed by 2020, 2021 and 2022, respectively. New construction is also taking place on the IU Metz Bicentennial Carillon.
“It will ensure that IU Bloomington students have the best possible living and learning environments so they can fully focus on and succeed in their studies and benefit to the fullest from their residential experience.” McRobbie said.
The next decade will see a massive investment in new hospitals as well as education and research programs, McRobbie said. This includes the $550 million Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) that will be opening on the Bloomington campus in the fall of 2021. When completed, McRobbie said, the RAHC will be the most comprehensive academic health campus in the state outside of Indianapolis. The RAHC will house clinical and health science programs from the Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Dentistry at IUB as well as the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences.
“As we enter our third century of service to the state, nation, and the world, we will remain steadfastly committed to the outstanding traditions of academic excellence that has been a hallmark of this great university in its first two centuries,” McRobbie finished.