Dear Friend of Indiana University,

Among the most vital assets a great university has are its physical facilities—buildings large and small, old and new, that house classrooms of myriad sizes and functionality, and laboratories for every form of science and research.

Universities also are home to student residences; libraries and museums holding irreplaceable collections; secure facilities to protect vital computers and communications equipment—the core of the libraries of the future—as well as facilities for intercollegiate and intermural athletics, essential social spaces, hospitals, garages and more. An essential network of roads and paths, wires, optical fiber and pipes for heating and cooling connects this immense physical infrastructure.

Such facilities are critical to IU’s central missions of education, research, and the long-term preservation of knowledge. First-rate facilities are necessary to recruit and retain the best faculty and researchers, to ensure IU remains competitive in research and scholarship, and to help provide a high-quality living and educational environment for IU students on all campuses.

The state of Indiana and numerous private donors have, for nearly two centuries, invested in this infrastructure—from the earliest buildings that give the Bloomington campus its distinctive look to the most recent facilities designed to serve the growing needs of our regional campuses. The scale of this infrastructure is immense: more than 800 buildings across 36,000 acres on all of our campuses, with a total replacement value exceeding $7 billion.

These buildings now serve the needs of more than 110,000 students and approximately 40,000 faculty and staff, full- and part-time, and comprise an infrastructure larger than that of many cities. The essential maintenance alone on our facilities, although not glamorous by any means, costs tens of millions of dollars a year.

In my inauguration address in 2007 and in subsequent State of the University addresses, I announced that given the vast scale of our infrastructure, its extensive and critical maintenance needs—including a then-deferred maintenance bill of nearly $1 billion—and our huge needs for new research space, the time had come to more systematically plan in order to address all these problems.

This led to the development of master plans for all our campuses; the identification of all maintenance projects and their prioritization for action; and the more detailed development of plans for the renovation and repurposing of specific areas of the campus as well as new facilities—all with the goal of supporting the academic priorities of the university. These plans have, in turn, driven our capital requests to the legislature, the use of our scarce university resources, and our fundraising activities in support of capital projects.

I want to pay tribute to our Trustees as it relates to this undertaking. In keeping with their ultimate fiscal responsibility for Indiana University and all its property, they have supported the development of a plan to address the broader deferred maintenance problem for the university, and the development of coherent and prioritized plans for all campuses of Indiana University. I also want to thank long-serving Vice President Terry Clapacs, who retired in 2009, and his successor, Vice President Tom Morrison, for their outstanding leadership of these efforts.

Over the last seven years, we have seen what has most likely been the most sustained period of the renovation, renewal and repurposing of our existing facilities, and of the construction of new facilities, in IU’s history.

During this time, we have seen the construction or renovation, either completed or in progress, of over 50 major new facilities across all of our campuses as well as hundreds of smaller renovation projects, with a total value of over $1.5 billion. Of this, about 70 percent has been funded with private or internal resources.

We are deeply grateful to the many organizations and individuals who have helped fund many of these recent projects, including the Lilly Endowment; the Simon family; the late Ed Hutton; Jim Hodge; the late Bill Cook and Gayle Cook; Bart Kaufman; Andy Mohr; the Walther Cancer Foundation; the late Eugene and Marilyn Glick; Sid and Lois Eskenazi; Milt and Jean Cole; Yatish and Louise Joshi; the Harper Family Foundation; and many, many other generous donors. Revenue from our participation in the Big Ten Network has also played a role in these projects by helping to pay for a new academic facility: the Global and International Studies Building at IU Bloomington, which will open in the fall of 2015.

Much of this tremendous effort in construction is documented on a website we have just launched. I encourage you to visit regularly to see the progress on current and future major building and renovation projects at IU.

Among all the work being done across our campuses today, two initiatives promise to have a transformative effect on our Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses.

Returning the ‘Old Crescent’ to its academic roots

The Old Crescent is the wooded area in the southwest corner of the Bloomington campus near the Sample Gates comprising the many magnificent and iconic buildings that form the historical core of the campus. It was founded in the 1880s following a fire that destroyed much of the university’s original Seminary Square location.

Over time, however, as the Bloomington campus expanded to meet the needs of more students, the center of student activity shifted away from this beautiful wooded area, and many of the buildings became used primarily for administrative purposes or simply became under-utilized. In turn, many had become run-down, with facilities no longer able to support contemporary education and research.

In 2010, the decision was made, following reports from student and faculty committees, to completely repurpose and renovate for academic use all the buildings in the Old Crescent. In essence, this plan calls for a reclaiming of the Old Crescent area as a focal point for student and academic life on campus. Work on this ambitious plan is already well underway, and our goal is to complete it, assuming all the funding can be identified, by IU’s bicentennial in the 2019-20 academic year.

Franklin Hall, a stately limestone building immediately to the north of the Sample Gates that once housed IU’s main library, will become the home for IU’s new Media School and will be outfitted with state-of-the-art communications technology and studio space. The plan also calls for Maxwell and Kirkwood halls, located along the north and east edges of the Old Crescent respectively, to be renovated for academic use and for the large Swain West building, already home to the physics department, to be completely overhauled to create updated labs, classrooms and faculty offices.

Some major renovations have already been completed in this area: Presidents Hall in Franklin Hall, a superb new state-of-the-art IT classroom in the Student Building, Alumni Hall in the nearby Indiana Memorial Union, and all of Owen Hall. Work on the full renovation of Franklin Hall begins later this year, as will renovations to Kirkwood Hall and Maxwell Hall.

Former Wishard Hospital site in Indianapolis

In December, the magnificent new Eskenazi Hospital—named in honor of proud IU alumni Sid and Lois Eskenazi—opened on a site adjacent to our Indianapolis campus. At that point, all of the present Wishard Hospital buildings became IU properties under the terms of a deal in which IU provided the land for the new Eskenazi Hospital..

These Wishard Hospital buildings comprise about a million square feet of space. Some are usable with little modification needed; several require substantial renovation; and others will have to be demolished. But overall, this new space provides an enormous windfall for the health and clinical sciences at IU—and will have a positive ripple effect by opening up much-needed space across IUPUI.

Plans are rapidly being developed for the comprehensive repurposing and renovation of this space in line with the IUPUI and IU Health Master Plans. There will be new facilities for education in the health sciences, dentistry, and the Regenstrief Institute. Again, the goal will be to accomplish much of this by the IU bicentennial, and details will be incorporated in the IU bicentennial strategic plan.

Other key developments

Most of the other more than 30 new or renovated academic buildings we have completed, or have under construction or in planning, support areas of major strength at IU: the life, health and clinical sciences; arts and humanities; and information technology. Others provide new and enhanced student services or new student residences such as those at IU Southeast, IU South Bend or University Tower at IUPUI, the superbly repurposed former University Hotel.

On the IU Bloomington campus, IU’s main residential campus with about 13,000 beds, I announced in my inaugural address that IU would develop a 15-year plan to upgrade and renovate all student residence halls, most of which had been unchanged since the 1960s. We are more than halfway through this process, and plans are in place for several more new housing or major renovation projects, with our new goal to complete all these upgrades by IU’s bicentennial.

It is hard to walk across other parts of the IU Bloomington campus without noticing the telltale signs of change and growth. In addition to what will be the stunning new Global and International Studies Building opening next year adjacent to the Wells Library, the large expansion and renovation project at the Kelley School of Business is in full swing. The new Hodge Hall expansion will be complete this summer, providing our undergraduate business students with a beautiful new home even as renovations begin on the attached existing original Kelley School undergraduate building.

Of particular interest to IU’s legions of basketball fans are the exciting plans to update Assembly Hall to make it more accessible, to add some premium seating and improve the fan experience through enhanced amenities such as a new scoreboard, a grand entryway, and additional restrooms and concession stands. These upgrades, which will start next year and be completed in 2016, will preserve one of college basketball’s most revered venues for future generations of fans.

This academic year at IUPUI has seen the dedication of the Science and Engineering Laboratory Building at IUPUI and the recent groundbreaking for University Hall. These projects join other high-profile projects that have been completed at IUPUI in recent years including new student housing and dining options, a vibrant student union and renovated academic facilities on the campus.

Investments in regional campuses

IU is committed to strengthening its regional campuses, which serve more than 33,000 students across the state. As part of that effort, the university continues to invest in facilities, thanks in large part to the support of our alumni and from the state of Indiana. Every IU regional campus has opened a new building or facility in recent years or has one in planning.

Among those are the recently dedicated Milt and Jean Cole Fitness Center at IU Kokomo, as well as the extensively renovated Education and Arts building on the IU South Bend campus. We also have added student housing in recent years at IU Southeast and are moving ahead with plans to replace the former Tamarack Hall at IU Northwest with a new facility that will be used as classroom space for both IU and Ivy Tech.

Additionally, we have plans to build a new student activities and events center at IU East; and maintenance has been accelerated on all regional campuses through significant new funds provided for this purpose in the current state budget.

Building to inspire

We should never forget that architecture and design are among the greatest human arts, and we should build to inspire and stimulate thought and reflection. One of the greatest university presidents of recent times, the late Chuck Vest of MIT, believed that the values of creativity, boldness and audacity—and I would add beauty—should also be reflected in the architecture and design on a campus.

At IU, we see it in the angular austerity of I.M. Pei’s Art Museum on the Bloomington campus, and in the bold placement of Barnes and Lee’s main library on the IUPUI campus. It also is reflected in the magnificent buildings that comprise the Old Crescent, whose eclectic collegiate Gothic style so defines the character of the IU Bloomington campus.

We also should never forget that the physical beauty of our campuses is enhanced not only through architecture but by thoughtful meditative landscaping and striking public art. It is our hope that as we approach IU’s bicentennial, we can accelerate these efforts to beautify our all of our campuses in this way. As always, it was Herman B Wells who summed it so well: “Everywhere the eye rests, it should see something of beauty.”

Finally, I want to pay tribute to the thousands of outstanding staff on all of our campuses who play such an essential role in all the efforts described above: the builders, craftsmen and craftswomen; those who tend the gardens and repair furnishings; dedicated staff who clean and restore; professionals who plan and design; and many, many others.

Your efforts are not always heralded, but they are always deeply appreciated by the whole university community. It is because of you that everywhere the eye rests, it does see something of beauty.

Again, I would refer you to for fabulous detail on the changes taking place on our campuses, and as always, thank you for your support of Indiana University.

Yours sincerely,
Michael A. McRobbie