Dear Friend of Indiana University,

As we begin another academic year across all our campuses, I am extremely pleased to share some exciting news about a number of major recent developments at IU. 

Record Enrollments

Just last week I was delighted to announce that Indiana University had enrolled another record number of students, once again over 100,000. This number included record enrollments on a number of campuses, and continued improvements in the quality and diversity of the classes. These figures show that we are continuing to provide an affordable, high-quality education that students want and value, whether they are traditional-age students seeking a world-class college experience, graduate students pursuing specialized studies, working adults who want to advance their careers, or high school students getting a head start on college. As a result of the breadth and quality of our academic programs, IU, which graduates significantly more students than any other higher education institution in the state, continues to play a vital role in Indiana by educating and training students for successful careers and as skilled professionals.

New Academic Directions

In April 2011, the IU Trustees endorsed the New Academic Directions Report that considered ways in which IU might establish, transform, merge or close academic programs so as to ensure it continues to provide the kinds of degrees, educational opportunities, and research programs that one would expect of an institution that aspires to be one of the finest universities of the 21st century.

The response to this report has been vigorous and energetic. In fact, by the end of this year, a scant 18 months after the report was completed, we expect to have established, transformed, merged, or closed six schools. These are remarkable developments when you consider that IU only established two new schools in the previous 40 years.

Global and International Studies

Just last month, for example, IU took a major step toward becoming a world leader in global and international studies when our Board of Trustees approved a new interdisciplinary school that will bring together the core of the university’s extensive and formidable activities in these areas.

Our School of Global and International Studies on the Bloomington campus will be based in the College of Arts and Sciences and will comprise more than 350 core and affiliated faculty members from across the university. IU’s 11 federally funded Title VI centers, which focus on research and scholarship in various regions of the world and represent the largest number of such centers anywhere in the U.S., will also be associated with the school.

A national search for the school’s first leader has begun, and a significant number of new faculty positions will be added to the school over the next few years. We also intend to house the school in a highly functional new building to be constructed in the heart of campus for which we hope to break ground in the spring of 2013.

The school will eventually offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees and allow IU to expand still further its highly regarded educational, scholarly and research activities focused on nearly every part of the world, including the teaching of nearly 80 foreign languages, more than any other university in the country. We expect the new school will also further increase the opportunities for international study for our students.

I believe this to be one of the most significant developments of my tenure as president and, indeed, in the nearly 200-year history of the university. There is hardly a part of American society that is not affected by global forces and developments, and by bringing together into one school the core of IU’s extraordinary resources in global and international studies, the university stands poised to join the most outstanding programs in the world in these truly vital areas.

Public Health

As we look to expand our sphere of influence internationally, we also remain steadfastly focused on academic disciplines that will produce graduates and research aimed at helping improve the quality of life at home in Indiana.

In July, IU received approval to begin the accreditation process for our new schools of public health in Bloomington and Indianapolis.

The schools are the first public health schools in the state of Indiana. They will leverage and expand upon existing expertise on both the Bloomington campus — where the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation has already been renamed the School of Public Health — and in Indianapolis, where the school of public health is based on a number of units and faculty from the IU School of Medicine and elsewhere that already work on many public health issues.

The goal is to create two distinct public health schools with complementary missions under the IU umbrella that, when taken together, will provide comprehensive public health education and research of direct benefit to the people of Indiana.

The creation of these new schools of public health comes at a time of critical need for the state of Indiana. According to the United Health Foundation, Indiana ranks only 38th on its total health index. Indiana residents have among the highest obesity and smoking rates in the country, and the state also ranks near the top of the country in the percentage of preventable hospitalizations and cancer deaths. At the same time, the state is 48th in public health funding per person and its ratio of public health workers to the population is one-third the national average.

We will formally celebrate the creation of both schools with separate ceremonies on the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses later this month, and our goal is to have the schools fully accredited within two years. Among its many benefits, accreditation holds the promise of significant opportunities for research funding, generating jobs, and considerable economic impact in the state. 

IU Online 

Last week I announced IU Online, a major new initiative, which recognizes the important impact online technologies are having in reshaping the higher education landscape. The initiative involves a substantial investment of $8 million in online education over the next three years that will accelerate in a strategic and coordinated way the development and delivery of quality online courses and programs at IU’s campuses statewide, address Indiana’s economic and professional development needs, and extend our global reach.

IU has been a pioneer in online education for the past 15 years and currently has more than 80 established programs across its campuses. The university will build on momentum established in online education programs in the Kelley School of Business, nursing, public and environmental affairs, social work, education, and at the IU East campus.

By fall 2013, IU expects to increase its online undergraduate degree and certificate programs in areas such as business, technology, and the liberal arts and sciences. At the graduate program level, every IU professional school has developed — or will begin developing — at least one online degree or certificate by fall 2013. In addition, the university expects to offer several new online courses by the summer 2013 for undergraduates or high school students. 

With a first-rate faculty and with information technology systems that are recognized among the best in the world, Indiana University is extremely well positioned and well equipped to be a global leader in the development of high-quality online education.

IU Health Hospitals Among Best in the Nation 

IU faculty and clinicians contribute more broadly still to the well being of the people of Indiana through the IU School of Medicine and other health science schools. The school’s faculty plays a major role in the success of our partners at IU Health. With that in mind, I would like to congratulate IU Health for being named one of the top 16 hospital systems in the country by U.S. News & World Report for the first time ever. This ranks IU Health among the very best hospital systems in the country with such household names as the Mayo Clinic and Mass General.

Eleven IU Health clinical programs, which include physicians associated with the IU School of Medicine, were also named among the best in the nation by the magazine. The unique partnership between IU and IU Health clearly is creating benefit for both institutions, as well for residents of the state of Indiana, and this ranking is simply the latest recognition of our shared success. 

Last month IU and IU Health saw some major milestones in progress towards establishment of their joint Neurosciences Center of Excellence with the dedication of Goodman Hall, which will house the IU Health clinical programs in the neuroscience, and the groundbreaking ceremony a few weeks earlier for the co-located Neurosciences Research Building, which will house many of the School of Medicine’s main neuroscience research programs. This complex will house one of the largest concentrations of researchers and clinicians in the neurosciences in the U.S.

Major Research Funding 

On the topic of research, I am proud to report that our faculty, staff, and students received $533 million in awards for external research and other sponsored programs in fiscal year 2012, which ended June 30. This is a 9 percent increase from 2011 and represents the second-highest annual total in our history — and only the third time we have eclipsed $500 million in awards during a single year.

This level of research reflects the extraordinary work and commitment of our faculty, staff, and students who combined to submit funding proposals worth more than $922 million in 2012. Nearly half of our research funding came from federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation. At the same time, our level of state funding in 2012 more than doubled to nearly $35 million, and the Lilly Endowment continued its remarkable four-decade legacy of support to IU with more than $52 million in grants to the university in the last fiscal year.

Outstanding Faculty 

As you know, IU is fortunate to count some of the finest academic and scholarly minds in the world among its faculty, and singling out individuals for recognition inherently runs the risk of leaving out others who are deserving of public praise. With that said, however, I would be remiss not to congratulate a number of IU faculty members for their roles in two of the most significant scientific breakthroughs in recent memory.

First, IU physicists led by professors Harold Ogren and Harold Evans were responsible for the design and construction of a critical component of the equipment that led to the confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson, an infinitesimally small particle that plays a very large role in explaining why everything in the world around us has mass. In addition, IU also partners with the University of Chicago to manage the Midwest Tier2 computing center, which is one of only a handful of such centers that meets the high-speed data needs of the researchers working on the Higgs boson.

Moving from the sub-atomic to the planetary realm of scientific discovery, two IU professors will be playing crucial roles in analyzing data collected by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity, which landed on that planet in early August. David Bish, the Haydn Murray Chair for Applied Clay Mineralogy, will help lead the work to identify the minerals present in Martian rocks and soil. Juergen Schieber, professor of geological sciences, will analyze close-up images of the Mars surface taken by Curiosity.

While these recent achievements have gained worldwide attention, they are just the latest examples of the enormous value of the research being done by IU and other universities around the world, and of the extraordinary contributions on myriad levels these institutions continue to make in understanding the world in which we live. I am extremely proud of the part Indiana University plays in enhancing that understanding.

New Leadership

Finally, I would like to take a moment to share some leadership changes that have occurred or been announced since my last update.

I am delighted to share the news that Lauren Robel has accepted the position as provost of the Bloomington campus. Lauren served as interim provost for the first six months of this year, and prior to that served as dean of the IU Maurer School of Law in Bloomington since 2003 and a faculty member at the school since 1985.

Lauren is an outstanding leader with a true passion for the academy and for students. She has hit the ground running and I know she has many exciting plans for strengthening the academic environment on the Bloomington campus this year and beyond. 

Jackie Simmons joined IU as vice president and general counsel in July, succeeding Dorothy Frapwell, who retired after more than 35 years of outstanding service to the university. Jackie, a graduate from the Maurer School of Law who has served as an adjunct faculty member at the school for many years, comes to us from the Indianapolis law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels where she was a partner.

We also will have a change in leadership at the IU Foundation in October when Dan Smith, currently dean of the Kelley School, takes over the reins from Gene Tempel, who will return to his academic roots in a leadership role for the new School of Philanthropy, which we hope will be approved by the Indiana Commission on Higher Education this fall.

Dan has done a superb job of building the Kelley School into a national leader in business education during his tenure and has been instrumental in securing some of the largest financial gifts in the school’s history. Gene is a recognized leader in philanthropy who has done a remarkable job guiding the foundation during an extremely challenging period for charitable giving. We are fortunate to have two such talented leaders on our staff, and I am confident both will excel in their new roles. 

Finally, please join me in congratulating Neil Theobald, who last month was named president-elect of Temple University. Neil has made enormous contributions to the university over the past two decades, and has been instrumental in keeping IU strong during the recent economic downturn in his role as senior vice president and chief financial officer. Temple is fortunate to have someone of Neil’s talent, commitment, and character as its next president. He will be greatly missed.

As you can see, it has been a busy few months for all of us at Indiana University. I am very pleased by the progress the university continues to make on the many issues and challenges facing higher education today and in pursuit of our fundamental mission of education and research. I remain confident that we will continue to build on our legacy of service to students, our communities, and the state of Indiana.  

As always, your continued support for Indiana University is greatly appreciated.

Michael A. McRobbie