Dear Friend of Indiana University:

The 2016-17 academic year has just begun, but our campuses across the state are in full swing, setting the stage for what promises to be another exciting, productive and memorable chapter in Indiana University's nearly 200-year history.

More than 114,000 students have begun classes at IU's eight campuses, and they are enrolled in a record 1.3 million credit hours.

Nearly 80 percent of our undergraduates call Indiana home. They are joined by nearly 9,000 international students, who come to IU from about 140 countries around the globe to receive a truly world-class education.

IU's fall enrollment includes more minority students—nearly 20,000than at any other time in the university's history. We have also set new records for the number of Hispanic/Latino students (6,064), Asian-American students (3,898) and students of two or more races (3,298). IU Bloomington has seen records for the number of African-American, Hispanic/Latino and Asian-American students, while Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, IU East, IU Kokomo and IU South Bend all set new records for minority enrollment this fall.

Our fall enrollment also includes IU's Bicentennial Class, whose members are already setting new marks for academic achievement and diversity.

The Bicentennial Class at IU Bloomington boasts the highest grade-point average and the highest average SAT/ACT scores on record. The class has also enrolled over 1,100 students from underrepresented groupsa 38 percent increase over the past five years. It also includes increasing numbers of students who receive income-based financial aid from the university.

Eighty-four incoming students have enrolled with Bicentennial County Scholarships, a new need-based financial aid program commemorating IU's bicentennial and targeted to 25 Indiana counties with traditionally low enrollment at IU. About 255 first-year students have enrolled in the Pell Promise program, a 55 percent increase over the past five years. With Pell Promise, IU provides supplemental funds to meet the full cost of tuition and mandatory fees for Indiana residents who receive federal Pell Grants. And the campus has admitted more than 800 first-year students who are 21st Century Scholars, a state program that helps pay for the direct costs of college for qualifying students from low-income families. That is an increase of 56 percent over five years. 

IUPUI enrolled its largest, most diverse and most academically talented first-year class, totaling 4,003 students. Overall, minority students represent more than one-quarter of all of the campus's entering freshmen, and the campus has experienced a 36 percent increase over last year's total in the number of African-American beginning students. 

And our regional campuses continue to enroll about nearly one-fourth of all IU students. They provide an excellent education to more than 25,000 students a year, the vast majority of whom are Hoosiers, and many of whom are non-traditional or first-generation students. 

All of this indicates the success of IU's Bicentennial Strategic Plan, which prioritizes a commitment to providing a high-quality education for the most deserving students, increasing the racial diversity of our student body and ensuring that an IU education remains accessible and affordable for all Indiana residents. 

Major investments in IU and Indiana 

Several weeks ago, we had the pleasure of announcing that for the second consecutive fiscal year, IU had achieved record totals in external funding for research and other activities and for private philanthropy.

In FY 2016, IU researchers received a record $614.1 million in external funding for research and other activities, the highest total of external grant funding obtained by any public research university in the state during the last fiscal year and the highest annual total in IU history. This figure includes more than $331 million in federal grants and contracts, which is another IU record. 

IU also received a record $524.1 million in total private individual and institutional philanthropy, which represented a 14 percent increase in philanthropic support over last year. This total included more than $329 million in philanthropic gifts, which support breakthroughs in research; fund endowed chairs and professorships that allow us to recruit and retain our most productive faculty; and create a rich educational experience for IU students across the state. They are fundamental to our efforts to keep an IU education affordable and within reach of deserving students.

These totals came on top of a number of record achievements reported in FY 2016 by the Indiana University Research and Technology Corporation, which protects, markets and licenses intellectual property developed at IU, enhances the application and transfer of knowledge in the state, and fosters a pervasive entrepreneurial culture.

IURTC completed 43 licensing agreements last fiscal year, an increase of 72 percent over the previous year's total. Licensing revenue topped $7 million, and IURTC was granted 53 U.S. patents last year, which is an IU record.

Since 1997, the IURTC’s work with university clients has resulted in more than 2,700 inventions and nearly 4,000 global patent applications. Those discoveries have generated more than $135 million in licensing and royalty income, more than $112 million of which went directly to IU departments, laboratories and inventors.

These efforts have begun to attract major notice and put IU squarely on the map of universities that are considered nation- and worldwide leaders in engagement and innovation. IURTC ranked 44th in the world in a report by the National Academy of Inventors based on the top 100 worldwide universities granted U.S. utility patents during the 2015 calendar year. IURTC rose 43 spots in this ranking from calendar year 2014. Also, Reuters released a study of the 100 "Most Innovative Universities" in the world, ranking IU 49th in the world and 33rd among universities in the U.S.

These successes are testament to IU's continuing status as one of the leading and most vigorous public research universities in the world. They also reflect the quality of the remarkable research being conducted by our faculty, staff and students -- research that expands knowledge, drives innovation, creates new industries and jobs, spurs economic growth and supports a high standard of living for Hoosiers. 

And we will soon begin to see the impact of IU’s new program in intelligent systems engineering and in design, which will help create and sustain a culture of building and making on the Bloomington campus. These new programs are allowing us to better prepare our students for the high-demand jobs of the future and more fully support Indiana’s entrepreneurial culture and economic competitiveness.

IU Bloomington recently welcomed its inaugural group of engineering students, who will take part in a program focused on the development of small-scale, networked and mobile technologies. The inaugural group is made up of 25 undergraduate students who possess a collective 3.9 GPA on a 4-point scale and an average SAT score of nearly 1300. Of the incoming undergraduate class, 20 are Indiana residents, six are women, five are first-generation college students, and one is a Wells Scholar. The Ph.D. class has 20 members, including five transferring from other IU doctoral programs. This includes two employees of the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Crane Division in Crane, Ind.

 A summer to remember

This summer, perhaps more than any other, proved just how active and engaged IU students, faculty and staff continue to be year-round in their pursuit of excellence in and out of the classroom. 

Olympic glory for IU in Rio

In August, the entire world witnessed the magnificent performances of IU's Olympians. Fifteen current or former IU student-athletes representing seven countries competed in the Rio Olympicsthe largest number of IU athletes to compete in the Olympics in 36 years.

The eight medals earned by IU students and alumnifive of them goldconstituted one of IU's best Olympic performances ever and its best since 1972, when Mark Spitz won seven medals.

IU ranked eighth among all American universities in terms of the number of medals won. And if our university were an independent country, "Hoosier Nation" would have finished 18th in the Rio Olympics' total medal count. 

Seven of the eight medals won this year by IU students and alumni were won by IU’s swimmers and divers. IU has a long tradition of excellence in these sports, but no IU swimmer had represented the U.S. in the Olympics in 40 years. This year, IU had three swimmers who collectively won five medals, four of which were gold. Lilly King, the Big Ten Swimmer of the Year, was the first IU swimmer in 40 years, regardless of country, to win an individual Olympic gold medal.

The success of our Olympic athletes reflected the dedication and commitment of their coaches, Drew Johansen and Ray Looze, who have returned IU swimming and diving to the elite level it maintained in the 1960s and 1970s. Fittingly, they also represented IU in Rio, serving respectively as the head diving coach and the assistant women’s swimming coach for Team USA.

Innovation and creativity in Columbus

In late August, I had the pleasure of returning to Columbus, Ind., a city whose architecture has been nationally and internationally acclaimed and which has been ranked the sixth most architecturally significant city in the U.S. by the American Institute of Architects.

IU has long recognized and appreciated the richness of the architectural heritage of Columbus. We have also long believed that having such a place close by provides an unmatched opportunity for the university to intimately involve the city as it expands its activities in art and design. This began five years ago with the establishment of the IU Center for Art and Design, which specializes in teaching design studies, allowing IU students to work in the superb “living laboratory” of art and design that is Columbus. Given this success, the remarkable resources provided by the city, the workforce needs of the area and the opportunities provided by the digital revolution in design, IU was invited last year to develop a proposal for a Master of Architecture degree to be based in our new School of Art and Design in Bloomington and to involve Columbus through the Center for Art and Design.

The degree, which The Republic newspaper in Columbus recently called a "perfect fit" for the city, was approved by the IU Board of Trustees in June and submitted soon after to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education for approval. We are confident that it will contribute enormously to IU’s efforts to create and sustain a culture of “building and making” on the Bloomington campus, while also providing enormous benefits for Columbus -- a city that has long had a great belief in the power of education, for IU and for the entire state. 

Reducing student borrowing

One of the key pillars of IU's Bicentennial Strategic Plan and, more specifically, our commitment to student success is ensuring that an IU education remain affordable. To this end, our staff has worked tirelessly to provide comprehensive programming and advising for students regarding financial aid and debt management.

These efforts have had an impressive impact. In the four years since IU began a multi-faceted financial literacy program and started adopting policies to increase student financial assistance and promote on-time graduation, student borrowing has been reduced by nearly $100 million, representing a 15 percent decrease over that time. 

Federal loans to IU students decreased by $113.7 million or 23 percent between the 2011-12 and 2015-16 school years. For IU undergraduates, total student loan volume decreased by $70 million, or 17 percent, over four years, and total loan volume for students who are Indiana residents decreased by $67.2 million, or 20 percent. 

There is, of course, more work to be done to control the cost of education, further reduce student debt and help more students graduate on time. But our financial literacy program and other initiatives, which have been widely praised and adopted by other colleges and universities, clearly have us on the right path moving forward. 

Excellence in diversity

Earlier, I described IU's record-setting minority enrollment this fall. Further reflecting the university's commitment to diversity, IU Bloomington and IUPUI have once again been honored with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education.

This is the second year IU Bloomington has been recognized as a HEED Award recipient and the fifth consecutive year IUPUI has been recognized. The award recognizes schools that have demonstrated a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion through their innovative programs, hiring practices, training, curricula and on-campus support systems.

Our faculty, staff, students and friends of IU should be commended for their dedicated and passionate support of a diverse, inclusive and multicultural academic community.

Strengthening engagement in Latin America

Since the turn of the century, Indiana has had a substantial increase in the number of Latinos who make up the state's population and who are making increasingly vital contributions to our economy. More than 420,000 Latinos now live in Indiana, according to recent U.S. Census population figures, and from 2000 to 2010, Indiana experienced an 82 percent growth in its Latino population. Latino purchasing power in Indiana totaled more than $9 billion last year, according to data from the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute. 

Reflecting these trends, Latino enrollment at IU has roughly doubled over the past decade and is up 5.5 percent from last fall's total. This fall, IU has 6,064 Latino students, representing a new record for the university, and over the past five years, the number of students from Latin America studying at IU has nearly doubled and is now approaching 500. More than 240 students enrolled at IU this fall are from Mexico, and of the countries that send the most international students to IU, Mexico now ranks fifth. 

As the Latino population plays an increasingly integral role in the state's development, IU has sought to strengthen its engagement with Mexico, one of Latin America's largest and most dynamic nations, and one of 30 "priority" countries with which the university is seeking to enhance relations as part of its international strategic plan.

Last week, I led an IU delegation to Mexico City that met with faculty and senior administrators at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the largest university in Latin America and a leading university of the Spanish-speaking world. The meeting resulted in an agreement to explore further areas of collaboration between the two institutions, which have had a successful relationship for nearly two decades. 

While in Mexico City, we also met with U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta S. Jacobson and with several of Mexico's leading educational institutions to explore ways to provide more funding for Mexican students to study at IU and to support more IU students studying in Mexico. We also formally inaugurated IU's new Mexican alumni chapter. IU has nearly 10,000 Latino alumni, including almost 500 alumni affiliated with Mexico, several of whom serve in leadership positions in the country's business, financial and media sectors.

Welcoming new faces (and places)

This fall, we are continuing to strengthen IU's community of world-class scholars and caretakers of our longstanding missions of education, research and service to our state.

Raj Acharya  is the new dean of IU’s School of Informatics and Computing. Raj comes to us from Penn State University, where he served as director of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Peg Faimon is the inaugural dean of the School of Art and Design. An IU alumnus and award-winning graphic designer, Peg comes to IU from Miami University of Ohio, where she was chair of the Department of Art.

Peg recently joined me in Columbus, Ind., where I spoke to the city’s Economic Development Board about the enormous potential benefits of the proposed master’s degree in architecture in the School of Art and Design.

Terry Mason, who has served as interim dean of the School of Education since July 2015, was recently appointed dean of the School of Education. He has been at the School of Education for 22 years and has served in a number of administrative roles.

Rebecca Porter has been serving as interim dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at IUPUI. She is an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and is the associate vice chancellor for enrollment management, where she oversaw major growth across undergraduate, graduate and professional student enrollment.

Finally, John Sejdinaj has recently been appointed IU’s new vice president and chief financial officer. John had been vice president for finance at the University of Notre Dame, where he was an effective financial steward at one of the nation’s top private universities.   

We are also building our infrastructure across the state in a continuing effort to foster learning and build community for our students. Just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of dedicating the new Student Events and Activities Center at our IU East campus in Richmond, which will serve as an academic, social and recreational hub of campus life. Today, we will dedicate North Hall at IUPUI, the first traditional residence hall constructed at IUPUI since the founding of the campus in 1969. We will also break ground soon on a new home for the IU School of Dentistry at IUPUI and rededicate Franklin Hall, the spectacular new home of The Media School at IU Bloomington.

Looking forward

As I enter my 10th year as IU president, I remain as positive and enthusiastic as ever about the future of our great university. Over the past decade we have consistently demonstrated our unwavering commitment to providing the highest quality education to our students and to ensuring that the instruction they receive stimulates the imagination and the quest for deeper inquiry.

I am proud of the superb work that all of our faculty and staff have done to strengthen research and education across the university on all campuses; to establish new programs and schools that provide our students with the most relevant educational opportunities possible; and to serve the most important educational and economic needs of our state. I want to congratulate all of them for their outstanding achievements over the past year. And I want to congratulate all of our students who have brought such credit and distinction to IU both academically and athletically.

Essential to all this, of course, has been the support of IU’s hundreds and thousands of dedicated friends, partners and alumni around Indiana, the nation and the world, and to them I also want to express our deepest gratitude.

As we approach the university's bicentennial celebration, all of you are helping to ensure that IU will enter her third century as one of the nation’s and the world’s leading public research universities.

With very best wishes for another successful year ahead,

Michael A. McRobbie
Indiana University