Dear Friend of Indiana University,

Throughout its nearly 200-year history Indiana University has played an essential role in the success of its home state, educating hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers, providing countless employment opportunities worth billions of dollars and serving as a point of pride to generations of residents.

For the past seven years, I have had the privilege of serving as president of this dynamic institution, working side-by-side with our immensely talented faculty, staff and students to advance the vital education and research mission of Indiana University as we approach the beginning of our third century as Indiana’s flagship university.

That milestone will occur during the 2019-2020 academic year when Indiana University turns 200 years old (on January 20, 2020 to be exact), and will be cause for considerable celebration. Indeed, the serious work to ensure that the university enters its third century as a leader in student education, scholarly research, economic development and service to our communities has already begun.

This demanding and extensive work, which involves all IU campuses, will be guided over the next five years by the Bicentennial Strategic Plan for Indiana University, an ambitious and comprehensive set of initiatives focused on student success, the value of an IU education, research and scholarly excellence, the university’s role as an economic powerhouse in Indiana and much more. The plan, whose drafting was led by the office of IU Executive Vice President John Applegate, builds on much of the work undertaken by IU over the past seven years. Much of it is drawn from the strategic planning activities that have been carried out on all campuses and by many academic and administrative units. I am very grateful to all of those who have given so much time and thought to university and campus planning.

I recently unveiled details of our bicentennial strategic plan to the university community in my annual State of the University address and would like to share the highlights with you in this message. The full draft of the plan can be found at, and public comments are welcome through November 22. I expect to present the final plan to the IU Board of Trustees for approval at its December meeting.

Central to the bicentennial strategic plan is the principle that great universities such as IU are not narrowly focused. They offer a broad scope of instruction and undertake research in depth over a large and growing array of subjects.

The plan contains seven “Bicentennial Priorities” derived from IU’s Principles of Excellence, which were approved in 2010. The strategic plan was also informed to a great extent by recently completed campus strategic plans at IU Bloomington and IUPUI.

In addition, the bicentennial strategic plan builds on the recommendations in IU’s 2011 New Academic Directions report, which has led to the creation of several new schools at IU, as well as the Blueprint for Student Attainment, which is driving the mission of IU’s regional campuses, along with similar documents in the areas of research, information technology, economic development, facilities, affordability, international engagement and other areas.

Central to the bicentennial strategic plan is the principle that great universities such as IU are not narrowly focused. They offer a broad scope of instruction and undertake research in depth over a large and growing array of subjects. Great public universities are also rightly called upon to contribute in major ways to the quality of life of their states. IU’s seven Bicentennial Priorities are designed to advance the university’s mission in all these ways and more.

  • Commitment to student success: This wide-ranging priority will ensure that IU remains among the most affordable universities in the nation, while at the same time it continues to offer a high-quality educational experience. IU’s commitment to value will call on the university to pursue innovative options in course delivery, continue to align academic offerings with the needs of the 21st century workplace and build on existing efforts to keep costs to students as low as possible.
  • Catalyzing research: Increasingly, IU will promote multi-disciplinary research that addresses the grand challenges facing our state, nation and world. As part of this priority, IU will provide targeted seed funding to assist faculty in the pursuit of greater external research funding for their work and pursue a strategy of “cluster hires” of outstanding research faculty in areas of strategic importance to the university. The university will also continue its very successful New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities program, which has funded hundreds of innovative and creative research and scholarly projects over the last decade, through the bicentennial. It strengthens IU’s reputation as an institution deeply rooted in the liberal arts, which continue to provide a strong academic foundation for many of our students.
  • Re-imagining education: IU’s School of Education, which is consistently regarded as one of the best in the nation, plays a vital role in the training of educators and in education research. Despite its success and many strengths, the school—like many others in the nationhas seen falling enrollments in recent years, largely as result of the challenging policy and economic environments faced by P-12 schools today. The strategic plan calls for a comprehensive review of the latest trends in teacher education and education research by an outside panel of experts, contributing to a thorough analysis undertaken by faculty and administration. The external review will be completed before the search for the new dean at the school’s core campus in Bloomington begins. Gerardo Gonzalez, who has served a highly successful 15-year tenure as dean of the School of Education is retiring at the end of this academic year.
  • A global university: IU will continue to expand its international engagement, especially in the 32 countries of emphasis in the university’s international strategic plan. Central to that work will be the creation of IU “gateway offices” in several key regions of the world, in addition to the offices in Beijing and New Delhi that IU has opened recently. IU also will soon complete its work to create alumni chapters in all these countries and increase its efforts to establish and sustain institutional partnerships with leading universities in those locations. I have had the good fortune to visit 25 of the 32 countries of emphasis as part of our ongoing effort to increase IU’s international engagement and have plans to visit the remaining countries over the next five years.
  • Health sciences research and education to improve the state and nation’s health: IU’s health sciences research and clinical activities contribute significantly to the economic health and physical well-being of Hoosiers, but more needs to be done in this area, especially in light of today’s increasingly challenging health-care and science research funding environment, and Indiana’s low ranking in measures of public health. Our strategic plan calls for the IU clinical schoolsmedicine, dentistry, nursing, public health, optometry, social work, and health and rehabilitation sciencesto build research capacity in population health management, and where appropriate in cancer, cardiovascular disease and the neurosciences. We also will develop new inter-professional degrees and specialized qualifications in the health sciences to better prepare heath care professionals for future team-based health care delivery models.
  • Building a prosperous and innovative Indiana: Given IU’s standing as one of the largest employers in the state and its role as the largest educator of Indiana college graduates, IU has a unique role in the economic development of the state. Our work in this area is led by IU’s economic engagement organization, the IU Research and Technology Corporation. As part of the strategic plan, IURTC will take steps to more tightly focus IU’s support of faculty research on those innovations with the most potential for commercial development. Additionally, the IURTC will move from its current downtown Indianapolis location to the IUPUI campus in the near future to more fully integrate the organization into university life.
  • Toward a culture of building and making: At a time in which we face a national shortage of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates, and in which there is an expectation that research universities contribute in a major way to state and local economic development, the lack of programs in design and engineering at IU Bloomington represent a hole in an otherwise outstanding portfolio of academic offerings. Our strategic plan calls for creating a culture of “building and making” that will be vital for IU Bloomington to reach its full potential to provide relevant and rewarding educational opportunities, to contribute more extensively to the state economic development, and to contribute to the state and national need for STEM graduates.

To address this gap, I am establishing an outside committee of experts to assess the viability of establishing a program in IT-based engineering at IU Bloomington. Such a program would be designed to leverage IU’s existing strengths in informatics and computer science, and would be complimentary to established programs in the field. It also would take advantage of IU’s strengths in areas such as biology and chemistry but would not be designed to compete with well-established programs in fields such as mechanical, chemical and electrical engineering at other universities.

At the same time, the university plans to establish a more robust design program at IU Bloomington. Two weeks ago, the departments of studio arts, apparel merchandising and interior design at IU Bloomington took an important first step in this direction by voting overwhelmingly to establish a new School of Design and Art, and we are committed to building our design-related program offerings beyond these areas in the future.

Once finalized, our Bicentennial Priorities will be pursued within a framework for excellence that provides strategies for strengthening the tools for successmost notably in the areas of advancement, physical and digital infrastructure and improved stewardship of scarce financial resources.

Indeed, our ambitious bicentennial plans include what will become the largest fund-raising campaign in the university’s history, with a goal of $2.5 billion that would double the amount raised in our two most recently completed campaigns at IU Bloomington and IUPUI. The campaign, which enters into its public phase in the fall of 2015, will serve as the cornerstone of future growth as IU enters its third century.

IU has endured for nearly 200 years. The Bicentennial Strategic Plan gives focus to our efforts to ensure that Indiana University will continue to thrive in this new environment.

As I said in my State of the University address, great universities such as Indiana University are, above all, expected to endure. While universities are among the oldest continuously operating institutions in the world, we are entering a period marked by rapid change, unprecedented global competition, and increasingly stressed resources.

IU has endured for nearly 200 years. The Bicentennial Strategic Plan gives focus to our efforts to ensure that Indiana University will continue to thrive in this new environment. It won’t be easy and it is going to take all of us – faculty, staff, alumni and friends - working together to realize the very ambitious goals we have outlined for the next phase in IU’s storied history.

At the same time, I am excited by the challenges and opportunities facing IU, and am confident we have all the necessary components to strengthen the university’s standing as one of the world’s great public institutions. I look forward to working closely with all of you all of you as we set Indiana University on the course for greatness in its third century.

As always, thank you for your continuing support of Indiana University.