Dear Friend of Indiana University,

Last week, I had the great honor of presiding over commencement ceremonies across all IU campuses and as always, came away from the experience deeply impressed by the promise of our newest alumni and very much satisfied at the vital role Indiana University continues to play in the lives of so many people, young and old, across the state, nation, and world.

This year, nearly 18,000 new IU graduates joined nearly 600,000 living Hoosier alumni around the world in what is one of the largest and most accomplished alumni bodies in the nation. As a result of the lessons our newest graduates have learned during their time at IU—both inside the classroom and through their experiences living, working, and playing on our campuses—our newest graduates leave IU extremely well prepared to start their journey through the borderless world of the 21st century.

This year’s class is notable for the breadth of backgrounds represented by the graduates. Indeed, the Class of 2014 includes representatives from 123 countries, all 50 states, and each of Indiana’s 92 counties. Our newest graduates range in age from 19 to 72, and one in four are first-generation college graduates.

In my commencement addresses to this year’s graduates, I reminded them that learning is a process and not a product, and I challenged them to have the audacity to imagine and pursue the limitless possibilities of their future. Ireland President Michael D. Higgins, an IU graduate, offered similar advice to the Class of 2014 during his commencement speech at IU Bloomington, when he said:

“May you not only acquire and retain critical consciousness, but my wish for you is that you also retain a sense of wonder, of possibilities that are never fully contained, never exhausted.”

I am pleased to say that the spirit of possibility and accomplishment is alive and well at Indiana University. And now that the exuberance of commencement season has been replaced by the relative calm of summer across our campuses, I wanted to take a few moments to recognize some of the many noteworthy accomplishments of our students and faculty over the past year.

I do this with the full acknowledgment that it is impossible to capture the spectrum of those achievements in a single update, but in the hope that sharing highlights of those who have earned national recognition for their work instills the same sense of pride in you that it does in me.

Recipients of Prestigious Scholarships

Five years ago the Board of Aeons, a student group on the IU Bloomington campus dating back over 90 years to President Bryan that advises the IU president and comprises some of our most gifted students, issued a report on the number of IU students who historically had been the recipients of the most prestigious national and international scholarship awards. This report offered recommendations on ways to increase those numbers through better support of our top students.

I am pleased to say the results of that work have been nothing short of phenomenal. In the five years since the Aeons report, the number of IU students who have received one of the 10 most prestigious scholarships has doubled from the previous five years, and that group includes two Rhodes Scholars. While some of these scholarships have yet to be announced for 2014, this year already has been another strong one for IU students with respect to the most prestigious awards offered to students each year.

Christine White, a political science, economics and Spanish major who just completed her junior year at IU Bloomington was among those named a Truman Scholar this year. This highly competitive award is given to students who wish to work on ways that governments and non-profit agencies can better serve the public and provides $30,000 for graduate study, along with priority admissions at premier graduate schools. This is the third straight year an IU student has been named a Truman Scholar.

Taylor Webster was awarded a Boren Scholarship from the National Security Education Program that allowed her to spend her senior year studying abroad in Seoul, South Korea. Taylor graduated this year from IU Bloomington with degrees in East Asian languages and economics, and a minor in political science.

Four students from IU—three from the Bloomington campus and one from IUPUI—were named 2014 Goldwater Scholars, which provides up to $7,500 a year in scholarship funding for up to two years of study for outstanding math and science undergraduates. This year’s recipients from IU Bloomington were Radhika Agarwal, who is majoring in biochemistry and biology; Christian Hayes, an astronomy and physics major; and Emma Winkler, majoring in biochemistry and microbiology. Devin Bready, a biochemistry major at IUPUI, also was honored.

Three graduating seniors at IU South Bend won National Science Foundation Fellowships and will be continuing their studies in graduate school on full scholarships. Ashley Compton is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and will begin her graduate studies this fall at MIT. Mark Klehfoth is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physics and will study theoretical physics at the University of Chicago. Luis Morales is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physics and applied mathematics. He will do his graduate work at the University of Notre Dame.

Finally, IU produced among the largest number of student Fulbright award winners. Thirteen IU students won Fulbright awards that fund research and teaching activities, representing a variety of disciplines to a wide array of countries. All but one of the students is enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington; the other is enrolled at IUPUI. Congratulations to all our Fulbright recipients:

  • Catalin Cristoloveanu
  • Katherine Dobson
  • Christopher Eichstedt
  • Rachel Geissler
  • Kathleen Hiatt
  • Julie Johnson Searcy
  • Emily Krauter
  • Allison LeClere
  • Robert Smith
  • Karli-Jo Storm
  • Jennifer Strayer
  • Elise Anderson
  • Michael Hancock-Palmer

A complete list of major IU and national scholarship award winners can be found here.

Faculty Accolades Continue to Grow

IU’s excellent faculty is core to the university’s academic mission and reputation, and this year once again several members have been honored for outstanding achievement in their fields of study. These honors serve to highlight the groundbreaking research and exceptional creativity activity and teaching being performed by our faculty across the university.

Two distinguished professors at IU Bloomington were elected to the newest class of fellows at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the most prestigious honorary societies in higher education. Susan D. Gubar, distinguished professor emeritus of English, was recognized for her contributions as a leading feminist and cultural critic, while Ellen D. Ketterson, distinguished professor of biology and gender studies, was honored for her transformative work in evolutionary biology. In all, eight faculty members have been elected to the Academy in the last four years.

Adrian Matejka, an assistant professor in English, was named a recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for 2014 in poetry as well as a 2014 Pulitzer Prize finalist for poetry. The Guggenheim Fellowship Competition recognizes men and women in the United States, Canada and Latin America who have demonstrated an exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or creative ability in the arts.

Indiana University Bloomington’s highly regarded Department of Mathematics led all other math departments at U.S. higher learning institutions with four faculty members selected this year as Fellows of the American Mathematical Society. Professors Hari Bercovici, Michael J. Larsen, Shouhong Wang and Kevin Zumbrun were recognized by the society for their outstanding contributions to the “creation, exposition, advancement, communication and utilization” of mathematics.

Two IU professors were among 41 from the U.S., Canada, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan and the United Kingdom to be appointed fellows at the National Humanities Center for the 2014-15 academic year. Shannon Gayk, associate professor of English, and William Newman, Distinguished Professor and Ruth N. Halls Professor of History and Philosophy of Science in the College of Arts and Sciences, will have the opportunity to share their work at the center, an independent institute for advanced study in the humanities located in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park.

Jinfeng Liao, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics at IU Bloomington was this year’s recipient of the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty and will receive $440,000 from the CAREER Award to help fund his research exploring new states of matter under extreme conditions.

Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Richard DiMarchi was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame this spring for his work on the drug Humalog, a synthetic analog of the human hormone glucagon that has been used by millions around the world to address the complications of diabetes. DiMarchi is among a class of 11 inductees this year. The National Inventors Hall of Fame was established in 1973 to honor the individuals who have conceived, patented and advanced great technological achievements.

Geologist Douglas A. Edmonds was the recipient of a Sloan Research Fellowship for 2014. Edmonds holds the Robert R. Schrock Professorship in Sedimentary Geology and is an assistant professor of geological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington. His research focuses on developing scientific theories and models aimed at understanding how river deltas are created.

Alan Dennis, the John T. Chambers Chair of Internet Systems and a professor of information systems at the Kelley School of Business, has received a lifetime achievement award from the Association for Information Systems. The award recognizes a professor who has influenced curriculum development and teaching methods, produced valuable research and left a lasting impact on his or her students.

Omar Attum, assistant professor of biology at IU Southeast, was awarded a full Fulbright scholarship to further his research. Attum plans to travel to Jordan to study the wildlife indigenous to the area, specifically, the Nubian ibex goat.

Two IU law professors—one each from the McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis and from the Maurer School of Law in Bloomington—were named to a list of the 25 most influential people in legal education by National Jurist magazine. Randall T. Shepard, visiting professor at the McKinney School, was named to the list for the first time, and William D. Henderson, a professor at the Maurer School, was No. 2 on the list for the second consecutive year.

Gene Tempel, founding dean of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, was named one of the 50 most influential leaders in the nonprofit sector by the NonProfit Times. The publication lauded Tempel, saying “it can be argued that nobody has spent more time effectively building a center of knowledge on the topic of philanthropy, where people turn for answers and illumination.”

As you can see by this voluminous list of IU students and faculty members who have been recognized for their excellence, the 2013-14 academic year was one highlighted by tremendous academic success. At the same time, however, the accomplishments of these individuals represent only a small fraction of the outstanding work being done across all of our campuses every day.

These efforts, which are made possible in part by the ongoing support of our alumni and friends around the world, as well as the state of Indiana, continue to bolster Indiana University’s reputation as one of the nation’s finest institutions of higher education and strengthen a nearly 200-year-old legacy of excellence.

As all of us across the university take just a moment to catch our collective breaths before turning our focus squarely to another new academic year, which is sure to bring its share of memorable moments and exciting challenges, I want to publicly share my congratulations to all our students, faculty and staff for an outstanding 2013-14. Your hard work and commitment to excellence are a continued source of pride to everyone in the global Indiana University family.

Yours sincerely,
Michael A. McRobbie