Dear Friend of Indiana University,

The new academic year is a little over a month old, but it has been an eventful period highlighted by a number of exciting new partnerships and initiatives. At the same time, we continue to actively address some considerable challenges, especially those related to the current economic climate.

International engagement has always been a major focus of Indiana University. As you may know, I recently returned from an extended and extremely productive visit to India, accompanied by a number of our academic deans and administrative leaders.

It was the first trip to India by a sitting IU president in at least 40 years, and possibly ever. It represents our most significant outreach to the world’s largest democracy, which is home to 400 active IU alumni among the more than 2,100 Indian IU alumni living around the world.

In addition, more than 800 Indian students are currently enrolled on our campuses—our third largest body of international students—and we are proud to say that more than 200 faculty of Indian descent work at IU.

While in India, we solidified or established relationships with a number of educational institutions, including signing partnership agreements with leading institutions of higher education such as the Indian Institute of Management in Lucknow and the University of Hyderabad. We also entered into agreements with two up-and-coming institutions: The Indian Institute of Management in Rohtak and OP Jindal Global University.

Such partnerships, as well as the academic and business contacts established and the alumni relations cultivated, are all part of our vision for international engagement.

That vision is aimed at better preparing our students for the global economy of tomorrow through increased study abroad opportunities, enhancing our research reputation on the international stage, and adding to the already considerable diversity among our student body.

Our international focus is also paying significant dividends in other ways. In fact, we have received several pieces of good news regarding our international activities in just the last
few weeks.

On Oct. 7, it was announced that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf would share the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. You may recall that in 2008 we awarded President Sirleaf an honorary degree in recognition of her tremendous contributions to justice, equality, and human rights. This award also reflected IU’s long and productive partnership with Liberia, which dates back to the 1930s and has resulted in successful efforts to help rebuild the country’s legal education system, guide constitutional reform, and preserve its rich culture and heritage.

I am pleased to share the news that we will continue to aid in the development of this civil war-torn country through a $7.5 million grant from USAID to establish a Center for Excellence in Health and Life Sciences at the University of Liberia. Our efforts will help young Liberian men and women train for professional careers in medicine, nursing, public health, and biotechnology.

This month, we also received a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Defense to establish a Turkish Flagship Center. This is the third of these prestigious foreign language education centers at IU, joining existing centers that teach Mandarin and Swahili, and it is certain to build on our expertise in Turkish studies.

We also continue to strengthen our leadership position in the management of high performance computing networks that power research and education collaborations around the world. Two new agreements will extend or upgrade key networks under our management to China and Europe, facilitating cutting-edge research in particle physics, radio astronomy, and medicine, among other disciplines.

Closer to home, we welcomed a record of more than 110,000 students this August on our eight campuses, as all our campuses have reported record enrollments in the last two years. Among them are more than 7,400 freshmen on our Bloomington campus, which collectively represent the most academically decorated class in our history—including 128 Indiana high school valedictorians.

At the same time, we are building on our considerable expertise in computing and health sciences with exciting milestones such as the dedication of the Glick Eye Center on the campus of IUPUI in August and the official opening this month of our new Cyberinfrastructure Building in Bloomington. Likewise, a number of our regional campuses are expanding to meet the educational and housing needs of our students across the state.

We recently formalized an educational partnership with Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center in southern Indiana that will result in a wide range of collaborative efforts in several key areas, including informatics and computing, cybersecurity, technology transfer, and regional economic development. It also will provide opportunities for our students to work with Crane professionals and give Crane employees greater access to our degree programs.
The Indiana University Research & Technology Corp. has launched a record seven new start-up companies this year, including two student-led companies in the clean energy sector. Invention disclosures are up significantly over last year, and licensing and related revenues from IU technologies earned over $11 million as we aggressively pursue new pathways to support our teaching and research mission.

The excitement of a new year and the momentum created by the outstanding work of our faculty and staff comes amid a backdrop of continued economic uncertainty that is placing increasing stress on both the university and many of our students and their families.

I addressed many of these challenges—as well as the work being undertaken across the university to address them—in my State of the University address last month, which focused, in part, on what it means to be a public university in an era of declining revenue from the state.

As you know, universities across the country are facing this question and answering it in a number of different ways. Part of our answer has been operating with greater efficiency across the university; part of it is clarifying and focusing on core missions; and part of it will be uncovering new sources of revenue to meet the changing needs of the university.

Broad efforts to become more efficient in all areas of our operations already have trimmed more than $35 million from our budget in the past two years. Groundbreaking software licensing agreements save the university and our students $40 million a year on essential software.

Just last month, we entered into pioneering agreements with several major book publishers, supported by Indiana-based software company Courseload, that will dramatically reduce the cost of digital textbooks, or eTexts, for students on all IU campuses.

We also announced a $1.1 million fund to establish a prize for IU Bloomington students who submit the best business plans for a student-led company focused on Internet and software technology. The annual prizes for BEST—Building Entrepreneurs in Software and Technology—will be the largest in the world offered by a university solely to its students in a business plan competition.

A recent benchmarking study revealed that many of our administrative processes are best in class among universities, and it uncovered ideas for further operational efficiencies in other areas.

Thanks, in part, to the generosity of our alumni and friends, scholarship and grant aid at IU Bloomington has quadrupled in the last five years to nearly $90 million this year. As a result of this tremendous support, three-quarters of the in-state students on this campus receive some sort of financial aid and the average net cost of tuition and fees this year is actually lower than it was a year ago.

I would also be remiss if I were not to draw your attention to the success of our IMPACT IUPUI campaign. I had the great pleasure of announcing last month that the campaign has eclipsed the $1 billion mark and is closing in on our goal of $1.25 billion—with 22 months left in the campaign.

This type of support in a down economy, and on the heels of a recently completed $1.14 billion campaign at IU Bloomington, is a remarkable testament to the value our alumni and friends continue to place on IU.

As you can see, we have hit the ground running this academic year. Despite our challenges, I am heartened by our successes and am convinced that our faculty and staff are up the task of building on our legacy as one of the premier public universities in America.

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to Indiana University.

Yours sincerely,

Michael A. McRobbie