Reception in Honor of Vice President for Research Jorge José

Indiana Memorial Union Solarium
IU Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana
June 29, 2015

Celebrating The Service of Jorge José

Good afternoon.

Thank you all for joining us to help celebrate the service of a colleague who has been deeply devoted for the last five years to enhancing and sustaining Indiana University’s capacity for outstanding research, scholarship, and creative activity—and to supporting the research efforts of IU faculty across the state: Jorge José.

As you may know, last December, Jorge announced his intention to step down from his role as vice president for research on July 31st. He is, of course, an eminent scholar in his own right, and I am very pleased that, after a year-long sabbatical during which he will focus on his research in neuroscience, Jorge will continue as a member of the faculty, serving as Rudy Professor of Physics at IU Bloomington and as a member of the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology at the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis.

Career Highlights: Advancing Research at IU

Jorge’s research focuses on quantitative biomarkers for neurological disorders, including autism and Parkinson’s disease. He is a member of the Mexican National Academy of Sciences and, in 2007, he was elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He came to IU in 2010 from the University of Buffalo, which is part of the State University of New York system and a fellow member of the Association of American Universities.

The five years that Jorge has served as vice president for research at Indiana University have been, without question, a challenging environment for university research funding. Austere federal budgets and the indiscriminate across-the-board spending cuts of sequestration have helped reduce the budget deficit in the short term, but they put tremendous pressure on the major research funding agencies and threaten to undermine the nation’s innovation capacity for the long term.

Despite this environment, Jorge oversaw an 18 percent increase in federally funded research by Indiana University faculty members in his first four years as vice president for research.

One reason for this success has been the provision of seed funding that supports research that develops innovative and transformative ideas to the point where they can successfully garner new external funding. Toward this end, Jorge initiated the IU Collaborative Research Grants program, which has enjoyed tremendous success.

Since the program began in 2010, just over $4 million has been awarded to 65 teams of IU researchers. The principal investigators on those projects have to date received—for the first three years of the program—more than $84.5 million dollars in external funding—a return on investment of 28 to 1. And we expect that return on investment to grow even further as projects funded in the most recent years continue to attract external grants.

During his tenure as vice president for research, Jorge also worked to increase IU’s funding from the Department of Defense. Last year, as a result of that focus, the Department of Defense and the NCAA announced a three-year, $30 million concussion research and education alliance—the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium—to be led by the IU School of Medicine in collaboration with the University of Michigan and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Jorge has also supported research and creative activity in the arts and humanities by leading a reconfiguration of IU’s New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities grant program. This program has allowed our faculty to expand the breadth and depth of their research and creative activity and led to the development of innovative works across a wide range of disciplines. The New Frontiers program has awarded more than $9.3 million to 451 faculty members in the past 10 years, and I was very pleased to announce in my State of the University address in October that, in conjunction with the Bicentennial Strategic Plan, the New Frontiers program would be extended for another five years.

The Bicentennial Strategic Plan, which, as most of you know, was approved by the Trustees in December, now guides our efforts over the next five years as we approach IU’s Bicentennial in 2020. The plan brings together and builds on a number of university-wide strategic planning initiatives, including the strategic plan for research at IU, the development of which was overseen by Jorge’s office.

The Bicentennial Strategic Plan also calls on us to focus future research efforts on the so-called “grand challenges” to which we can contribute most effectively—building on strengths in the humanities, the professions, and the social, natural, and clinical sciences. Jorge has worked since his arrival at IU on helping to identify and build on areas of research strength. He oversaw the establishment of two university-wide research centers that build on interdisciplinary, multi-campus strengths. The IU Network Sciences Institute and the IU Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics, and Society, are, in fact, Indiana University’s first two university-wide research centers.

Jorge has also worked to strengthen and expand Indiana University’s international research partnerships. He recently returned from a trip to Mexico City with Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret, where they met with leaders of the Mexican equivalent of the National Science Foundation and were the first IU vice presidents to visit the National Autonomous University of Mexico, one of the most prestigious institutions in all of Latin America—and Jorge’s alma mater. Jorge and David signed an agreement with the university that will involve student and faculty exchanges, and they laid the groundwork for future potential exchanges and research collaboration.

In fact, Jorge has agreed to remain engaged as an advisor to David’s office on relationships with universities and other higher education and research institutions in Mexico.

These are just a few of the many ways Jorge has helped to strengthen the spirit of collaboration among IU’s research faculty and to enhance IU’s capacity for outstanding research, scholarship and creative activity.

Let me express, on behalf of Indiana University, our appreciation for Jorge’s service to the university, and let me take this opportunity to express our very best wishes to him in the next chapter of his career.

Presentation of The Thomas Hart Benton Medallion

Jorge, would you join me at the podium?

Jorge, to recognize dedicated service to IU such as yours, the university established the Thomas Hart Benton Mural Medallion. First given in 1986, the bronze medal features the Benton Mural, which is located in the IU Auditorium. The reverse side has the Seal of the University. It symbolizes the aspirations and ideals that are the foundation of the search for knowledge.

And so, by the authority vested in me by the Trustees of Indiana University, and in acknowledgement of your support for the research efforts of Indiana University faculty members around the state and for all that you have done for the university, I present to you, Jorge José, the Thomas Hart Benton Medallion.