Rotary Club of Evansville

Tropicana Evansville Executive Conference Center
421 NW Riverside Drive
Evansville, Indiana
May 6, 2014

Introduction And Acknowledgements

Thank you for that introduction, Pat (Shoulders).

As the longest consecutively serving current member, Pat is the dean of the IU Trustees. He has also served IU in many other capacities, including his service as president of the College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Board, and as the national volunteer chair of the IU Alumni Association.

All of you are familiar with his dedicated service to many organizations in this community, and, as those of you gathered here know very well, there is no stronger advocate for the City of Evansville and Vanderburgh County than Pat Shoulders.

Pat, we are all very grateful for your service to Indiana University, to the Evansville community, and to the state of Indiana.

I also want to acknowledge a number of other distinguished guests who are here today.

Suzanne Crouch, who formerly represented the 78th district in the Indiana statehouse, and who now serves as the State Auditor of Indiana, is with us.

  • Vaneta Becker, who represents District 50 in the Indiana Senate and
  • Gail Riecken, who represents the 77th District in the Indiana House of Representatives,

are also with us. Would you join me in welcoming them?

Would you join me in welcoming the mayor of Evansville, Lloyd Winnecke.

Also with us today are leaders of a number of the outstanding institutions that serve the educational needs of southwest Indiana, the state, and the nation.

  • Dr. Thomas Kazee, President of the University of Evansville,
  • Dr. Linda Bennett, President of the University of Southern Indiana, and
  • the interim chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College-Southwest, Dr. Mary Ann Sellars, is also here today.

Would you join me in welcoming them?

And we are also joined by the former mayor of Evansville—and former state representative—who is now the chancellor-elect of Ivy Tech-Southwest, Jonathan Weinzapfel. Would you help me welcome him?

I also send my sincere thanks to Ivy Tech-Southwest Chancellor Emeritus Dan Schenk, who has been a trusted partner in Evansville.

I also want to introduce

  • J T. Forbes, executive director of the IU Alumni Association, and
  • Kirk White, who serves as Indiana University’s Assistant Vice President for Strategic Partnerships in the Office of the Vice President for Engagement. Kirk also serves as IU’s liaison with Evansville and Southwest Indiana. Kirk is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Indiana National Guard with two tours of duty in Afghanistan.

Would you join me in recognizing them?

Evansville: A City Of Dynamic Growth

I am delighted, as always, to be back in Evansville, and I very much appreciate this opportunity to speak with you today. The Rotary Club of Evansville is, of course, celebrating its centennial. During the club’s first century, Evansville’s business and professional leaders have embodied Rotary’s mission of providing humanitarian services, encouraging high ethical standards in all vocations, and helping to build goodwill and peace in the world. I was in Evansville in 2012, when the city was celebrating its bicentennial. That the Rotary Club of Evansville has, in fact, been a part of Evansville for nearly half of the city’s entire history is quite remarkable. I offer Indiana University’s congratulations to the members of the club on this important milestone.

Your extraordinary service to this community underscores the fact that Evansville is a city with a rich and vibrant history as well as a very bright future.

The Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra, the Civic Theatre, and the Evansville Dance Theater all contribute to the city’s vibrant arts community. The Ford Center is bringing people from all over the region to downtown Evansville for sporting events and concerts. And the revitalized riverfront and the many downtown construction projects have reaffirmed the commitment of local and national industry to this region.

Of course, the growth we have seen in the region is no accident. It is, rather, the result of a great deal of strategic thought and action over many years by many of you who are here today.

The Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville has helped to lead these efforts, and has, in the last two or three years alone, worked on projects that are adding nearly 2,000 new jobs in the region with more than $1 billion in annual economic impact.

And as the business corridor along I-69 continues to develop (ultimately, to Bloomington in 2015), new opportunities for economic development—and for the development of new potential partnerships—will continue to arise. And, of course, our students, alumni, and sports fans truly look forward to the completion of the highway, which will allow much safer travel from Evansville to the Bloomington campus in around an hour and 40 minutes.

The New Academic Health Science Education and Research Campus

Indiana University is truly delighted to be part of the growth of Evansville and the resurgence of the downtown area, with the development of the new academic health science education and research center.

As Pat has often pointed out, Evansville is Indiana’s third-largest city, yet southwest Indiana is the only part of the state where Indiana University has not had a major presence.

The new health science campus, which will greatly expand the medical education and research efforts of the IU School of Medicine in Evansville, will rectify that situation.

The history of the IU School of Medicine history in Evansville dates back to 1972, when the school had a presence on the campuses of both the University of Evansville and the University of Southern Indiana. For the last 20 years, of course, the program has been housed in the Health Professions Center on the campus of the University of Southern Indiana.

I am very pleased that Dr. Steven Becker, associate dean and director of the IU School of Medicine—Evansville, is also with us today.

Indiana University is proud of the successful partnership that has allowed many students to receive education through the IU School of Medicine here in Evansville. We are, as always, grateful for the support and service of the more than 180 area physicians who volunteer their time in the school’s educational programs. And beginning this year, the Evansville campus will provide all four years of medical training locally.

But, as was revealed in the very thoughtful study that was conducted in 2012, there was a great need for expanded medical education in southwest Indiana.

Meeting a Vital Need

Even though Vanderburgh County, in the important role it serves as a healthcare center for the entire region, has very good access to physicians and hospitals1, primary care practices in the region are at or near capacity. Moreover, at current graduation and training rates, there will be 45,000 too few primary care physicians in the U.S. by 2020, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Center for Workforce Studies.2

These, of course, are the very doctors who provide the preventative screenings and treatments that save lives and mitigate the frequency of expensive emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

A number of years ago, the IU School of Medicine assembled an expert task force to study the looming shortage of healthcare providers and make recommendations. They concluded that the IU School of Medicine would need to increase its enrollment of medical students by 30 percent to ensure an adequate supply of Indiana doctors in the coming two decades.3

One of the ways the school is endeavoring to accomplish this increase is to transform the regional medical education programs from 2-year to 4-year programs, as has been done here in Evansville.

The Evansville health science education and research campus will serve approximately 1,800 students upon opening. Many of these students will remain in the region, and thus the center will help to address the acute shortage of primary care physicians and other healthcare providers.

Part of a Thriving Downtown

As you know, at their April meeting, on my recommendation, the IU Trustees approved a site for the new $69.5 million, 170,000 square foot campus building here in the heart of downtown Evansville, adjacent to the planned new convention center hotel. The new facility will be a major component of the revitalized riverfront, which provides a naturally attractive setting right in the center of the city.

As I said to the Trustees when I made my recommendation, each of the four qualifying proposals we evaluated was of very high quality, which made arriving at a recommendation extremely difficult. The experience and the depth of knowledge of the members of the teams behind each proposal were evident. I truly believed the facility could be successful in any of the four proposed sites.

We ultimately recommended the downtown location based on strong student preferences that were expressed, the recommendations of the local hospital leadership, and input received from our academic partners, including Vice President Jay Hess, dean of the IU School of Medicine. The site provides a central location; one that is accessible to all of Evansville’s medical facility assets. The proposed design creates a strong presence in a quickly developing downtown, and is preferred by an overwhelming number of the parties who will utilize and benefit from this facility.

We are very pleased that the facility will give Indiana University a greater presence in southwest Indiana and equally pleased to be part of the ongoing revitalization of downtown Evansville.

Vital Partnerships

Of course, we have by no means reached this point alone. The process of planning for this expanded medical education campus in Evansville has truly been a broad-based partnership, and the work going forward will be likewise.

Let me express, on behalf of Indiana University, our gratitude to our partner institutions. The leaders of the University of Southern Indiana, the University of Evansville, and Ivy Tech-Southwest had the vision to recognize the needs of the Evansville region and to work collaboratively with the IU School of Medicine, with each institution drawing upon its particular strengths, to create a solid framework for the delivery of academic programs and research in the health sciences.

And let me once again thank President Bennett and the University of Southern Indiana for fostering the longstanding partnership that exists today between the IU School of Medicine and USI. The new multi-institutional partnership has its roots in the success, over many years, of our partnership with USI, and indeed, were it not for that partnership, the development of a plan for expansion of academic and collaborative health science delivery in the Evansville region would not have been possible.

Input from members of the business community, health care providers, and representatives from our partners at Deaconess Health, St. Mary’s Health, and Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper has been—and will continue to be—crucial to the development of what truly will be a distinctive life and health sciences resource for southwest Indiana.

Many of you in this room have been instrumental in helping develop the vision for the new medical education center over the past three years. I am grateful for the work of the four different local working groups who have helped guide the site selection; funding; academic, research, and communications priorities; and guided our success.

The Evansville Regional Business Committee, a group with whose members I have had the pleasure of consulting for sound advice and counsel on previous occasions, recognized the potential of the new center and provided key funding for the important feasibility studies.

We are also deeply grateful to the City of Evansville for financial incentives that will help make the new health sciences campus possible. This combined $35 million support package represents the largest amount of local government financial support for one project in the history of Indiana University. We very much appreciate the confidence of the Evansville community in this project as expressed through these incentives.

I know that many of you who are here today were instrumental in developing this vision for the regional health education center, and I want to express my deep gratitude to all of you on behalf of IU. Your efforts will dramatically increase medicine- and health-related educational opportunities for students in southwestern Indiana and northwestern Kentucky, and they will have an enormous impact on the region for many years to come.

Innovation and Impact in The Health Sciences

Of course, the educational, research, and clinical activities of Indiana University’s health science and clinical schools—which include the IU schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, optometry, social work, and health and rehabilitation science—are one of the major ways in which IU contributes to the social and economic development of the state of Indiana.

Over 50 percent of Indiana’s physicians, 40 percent of nurses, 90 percent of dentists, and 60 percent of the state’s optometrists are trained at IU.

IU’s impact is amplified even further by its close partnership with Indiana University Health, the state’s most comprehensive healthcare system. IU Health, which fully integrates the research and clinical expertise of the IU School of Medicine, continues to be ranked among the most highly regarded healthcare systems in the nation and among the very top of hospitals in Indiana.

Indiana University has also launched a major effort to address our state’s poor rankings among all states in measures of the leading causes of illness and death as well as measures of the determinants of health through the establishment of two new schools of public health: the Fairbanks School of Public Health on the Indianapolis campus, and the School of Public Health at IU Bloomington. These two new schools have as their central missions the improvement of public health by conducting research of the highest quality and by educating the next generation of public health professionals.

Growth and Change Across Indiana University

These two new schools are emblematic of the growth and change we are seeing across Indiana University.

Establishment of New Schools

Our New Academic Directions Initiative, a plan created in 2011, has produced strategic and focused changes on an unprecedented scale in the academic landscape of IU’s core campuses in Bloomington and Indianapolis. 

In addition to the two new schools of public health, four additional new schools were established in response to the report’s recommendations. These include:

  • the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, which is the first school in the world dedicated to the academic study of philanthropy in all its diverse and multidisciplinary manifestations;
  • the School of Global and International Studies, which brings together IU’s extraordinary strengths in global and international scholarship;
  • a newly reconfigured School of Informatics and Computing, which now includes our previous School of Library and Information Science; and
  • a new Media School within the College of Arts and Sciences, which will officially come into existence on July 1st, merging our programs in journalism, telecommunications, communications and culture, and film studies. Our film studies program is rapidly emerging as one of the most prominent in the nation, and the Bloomington campus was recently privileged to host a visit by Meryl Streep, to whom IU awarded an honorary doctorate, and who is widely regarded as the greatest actor of this generation, and quite possibly of all time. The new Media School will ensure that IU is at the forefront of teaching, research and service about the understanding and production of media as it continues its dramatic evolution and transformation.

These six new schools represent more change than we have seen in the university’s academic structure since the early 20th century, when our core schools were established. All of this activity allows IU to re-imagine teaching and learning for 21st century students, faculty, and staff—and, ultimately, to redefine ourselves as a public university.

An International University

With these same aims in mind, we have also worked over the last several years to reinvigorate the global partnerships that support the university’s international academic and educational programs. By any measure, IU is one of the most international universities in the country. Our Bloomington campus ranks 5th in the country—among more than 1,200 universities—in terms of the number of students who study abroad. Student study and service abroad are essential components of a 21st Century education meant to prepare our students to live and work in a flat world. The Bloomington campus also ranks 10th in the nation in terms of the number of international students enrolled. These international students diversify and enrich our student body, giving American students a direct experience of working with and getting to know foreign students and their cultures.

IU also offers instruction in more than 70 foreign languages. No other university in the country offers more—and some of the languages offered at IU are not taught at any other American university. 

You may also be aware of aware of Indiana University’s outstanding strength in international area studies through its centers that engage in research and scholarship concentrating on certain countries, cultures, and regions around the globe. Among the many area studies centers at Indiana University that contribute to the formation of understanding and wisdom about the larger word are eleven that receive ongoing support and national distinction through the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI program—the largest number of such centers anywhere in the United States.

Indiana University also has a long history of international institutional engagement, in the form of exchanges and partnerships with international peer institutions. We now have well over 200 such partnerships, and they can be found on every continent and in nearly every part of the world. Such relationships are vitally important to our research and education missions. They support faculty research, provide venues for study abroad programs, and are of great advantage in our faculty and student recruitment efforts.

We have brought these extraordinary resources in global and international studies together into the new School of Global and International Studies. I have said on previous occasions that the decision to establish a school of global and international studies by the IU Trustees was, I believe, one of the most important developments in the nearly 200 years of IU's history. The school is a major initiative that will expand the opportunities for international education for students, including greater understanding of how societies are developing worldwide, and deeper knowledge of globalization.

Unprecedented Level of Renovation and Construction of Facilities

This growth across the university is also reflected in our facilities. First-rate facilities are critical to IU’s central missions of education, research, and the long-term preservation of knowledge. They allow us 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.

All of this will certainly be true of the magnificent new medical education building here in downtown Evansville.

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.

2014 Commencements

And finally, over the next 10 days, nearly 18,000 students—including approximately 200 students from the Greater Evansville area—will graduate with Indiana University degrees from our campuses around the state. Nearly a quarter of our May graduates are first-generation college students, and nearly three-quarters are residents of Indiana.

I am also very pleased to note that many of these graduates—as well as many of those who will graduate in the coming years—will graduate with less debt. Mindful of the widespread concerns about college costs and student debt, IU has implemented a number of financial literacy and other programs to raise awareness of the risk of excessive borrowing and help students make smart decisions about money. And those programs are working. Across all IU campuses, the number of undergraduates who took out federal loans this year decreased by 12 percent and the amount of money they borrowed fell by nearly $34 million. We will, of course, continue to strengthen our financial literacy programs along with our many other efforts to keep an IU education affordable.


Many opportunities lie before us as our universities, government and business leaders, and community members of Greater Evansville work together to conceive and implement innovations that will help us all to thrive.

Great public research universities in this country must be engaged in precisely this type of collaboration in order to fulfill our responsibilities to the states and citizens we serve. At IU we will tirelessly work to identify further areas of engagement in Evansville and throughout the state of Indiana.

As we pursue our fundamental missions of education and research, we also continue Indiana University’s traditions of excellence in areas ranging from music to medicine, from business to biology. 

What does this mean to the average Hoosier? 

It means more opportunities, more jobs, and better pay. It means ready access to the most effective medical treatments.

It means a world-class university in their own backyard. 

From pre-school to med school and beyond, IU is working with the entire state to achieve these goals and continue our traditions of excellence.

Thank you very much.

I would be very glad to answer any questions or to hear a few of your thoughts.

Source Notes

  1. “Healthcare Access in Indiana,” Purdue Center for Regional Development,

  2. AAMC Center for Workforce Studies, June 2010 Analysis

  3. <>