Because of your continuing support of Indiana University, I want to share with you a few highlights from my State of the University address, delivered just a few weeks ago. This annual address to IU faculty offered me the opportunity to discuss current issues at IU, the outstanding progress we have made on several key strategic initiatives, and how the university will meet the challenges of the current economic situation facing Indiana and the nation.
Strategic Hiring and New Construction
As we deal with significant reductions in our state appropriations, there are two key principles that will guide our efforts to strengthen the university and move it forward. These are: 1) protecting and strengthening the academic core of the university, which means retaining and hiring even more of the best and most promising faculty, and 2) continuing to construct new facilities and renovate and repair our existing facilities, which are essential if we are to reach our full potential as a research university.
Across the university, we have moved aggressively to recruit and hire outstanding new faculty members while retaining our current excellent faculty. Indeed, IU added 129 additional faculty members this year, and at a time when other universities have imposed hiring freezes, our continuing careful fiscal management puts us in a position to keep recruiting great faculty. We also moved rapidly to take advantage of historically low construction costs, and we presently have over half a billion dollars of construction and renovation underway or planned.
In short, we are committed to strategic hiring and expanding and improving our facilities to further our academic agenda and meet the needs of a growing student body, which reached a record total of 107,000 students this past fall semester.
IU’s Academic Core and New Academic Directions
In these difficult times, our highest priority must be preserving and strengthening the academic core of the university, which is evident in the various schools, campuses, and administrative units that comprise the university.
The structure of these units reflects the accreted wisdom of many generations. But as advancements in information technology and globalization spur social and economic changes, we must ask hard questions of our institutions. Are we offering the kinds of educational opportunities one should expect of a university that aspires to be one of the finest universities of the 21st century? How can our academic units more quickly respond to major educational trends happening around the world?
Through the formation of a New Academic Directions Committee, led by IU Bloomington Provost Karen Hanson and IUPUI Chancellor Charles Bantz, we will begin to ask and answer these and other important questions.
Similarly, we have challenged each campus and each academic unit to renew their commitment to the quality—and currency—of the education they provide. In order to meet this challenge, each campus will establish a New Directions in Learning Committee, including academic administrators, accomplished faculty members, and outstanding students. These committees will focus on whether we are teaching in ways and settings that are meaningful for today’s students, using technologies to educate students more effectively, and identifying knowledge and skills that students need to make a valuable contribution to their communities, and they will present their findings in a conference scheduled to take place next year.
The Old Cresent at IU Bloomington
We have now completed a master plan for IU Bloomington, and it offers a superb blueprint for the future development of the campus. But this plan highlights that the way we use the magnificent iconic buildings that comprise the Old Crescent—the historic core of the campus—does not properly reflect the university’s core missions of education and research. Only about half of them house academic units, and the rest house administrative units that could be situated in less physically and symbolically central locations. The Old Crescent should be among the main academic centers on campus and a vibrant hub of student and academic life and activity, day and night. To this end, we will convene an Old Crescent Academic Working Group to develop a long-term plan for the re-allocation of the space in the Old Crescent buildings presently occupied by administrative units to academic units.
IUPUI/Clarian Master Plans
We will also develop a master plan that will have a significant impact on the campuses of IUPUI and Clarian Health, establishing a major life sciences corridor in downtown Indianapolis. There are now IU facilities at the southernmost edge of the Clarian campus with plans to build IU’s Neurosciences Building at the northern edge of the IUPUI campus. This means the IUPUI and Clarian campuses are now effectively physically linked together. Given that Clarian is a joint venture of IU and the Methodist Hospital and is essential to the research and clinical programs of the IU School of Medicine and other IU health sciences-related schools, the master plans for IUPUI and Clarian will be conceptually linked together. We expect these plans to be complete in about six months.
The Heart of IU
As I said in my address, the past year has presented all of us with difficult challenges, but I am proud of how we have responded.
Now is the time to look across the university and shape it to meet the demands of our changing world. As we do so, we must remember the work at the heart of IU: the search for truth and the dissemination of knowledge to generations of students.
In the end, that is our real work.
Thank you for your support of IU.