Indiana Black Expo Corporate Luncheon

Indiana Convention Center
Halls D-E
Indianapolis, Indiana
July 17, 2015

Introduction and Acknowledgements

Thank you very much.

It really is a pleasure to be here again as part of the 45th annual Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration. This has become an iconic event and is one of the largest African-American cultural events in the nation. And the organizers once again deserve hearty congratulations on yet another highly successful Black Expo. Indiana University has been proud to partner with Indiana Black Expo for 45 years.

I am especially pleased to see so many distinguished alumni and friends of Indiana University here this afternoon. And I would like to extend a special welcome to some noteworthy guests.

First, I want to recognize Senator Donnelly, Congressman Carson, Governor Pence, and Mayor Ballard and extend thanks to these distinguished leaders for their remarks today and for their dedicated support for higher education and for Indiana University.

I am also delighted that Dr. Rose Mays is with us today. Rose is a member of the IU Foundation Board of Directors and professor emerita in the IU School of Nursing. Her late husband, Bill, was, of course, the founder of Mays Chemical Company, one of the largest black-owned businesses in the nation. Earlier this year, I had the great privilege of recognizing their distinguished careers and their service to IU by presenting to Rose—and posthumously to Bill—the IU President’s Medal for Excellence, one of the highest honors an IU president can bestow.

I am also very pleased to welcome Lacy Johnson. Lacy is a former member of the IBE Board of Directors, and he currently serves on the IU Foundation Board, as well as the Board of Visitors of IU’s McKinney School of Law—of which he is a very distinguished graduate.

I am also very pleased to welcome the mayor of Gary, Indiana, Karen Freeman-Wilson. Mayor Freeman-Wilson joined me onstage in Gary last month as we broke ground for a much needed and much anticipated new Arts and Sciences Building that will be shared by IU Northwest and the northwest Indiana campus of Ivy Tech Community College. We are grateful to Mayor Freeman-Wilson for her strong and enthusiastic support of IU’s Northwest campus.

A number of senior IU leaders are also with us today.

Dr. Charles Bantz, who will be stepping down as chancellor of IUPUI and executive vice president of Indiana University next month, is here today, along with members of his staff. Among his many accomplishments during his time as chancellor are his enormously successful efforts to make the IUPUI campus more diverse and inclusive.

Also here is his successor, Dr. Nasser Paydar, who I know equally shares Charles’ commitment to diversity and inclusiveness.

Also with us are Dr. William Lowe, chancellor of IU Northwest; Dr. Kathy Cruz-Uribe, chancellor of IU East; and Dr. Sue Sciame-Giesecke, chancellor of IU Kokomo.

Dr. James Wimbush, IU’s vice president for diversity, equity, and multicultural affairs, who is also dean of IU’s graduate school and a renowned professor of management in the Kelley School of Business, is also with us today, along with members of his staff. Indiana University has a longstanding commitment to issues concerning diversity being the responsibility of a vice president reporting directly to the president. This position was first established in 1999 and Vice President Wimbush’s distinguished predecessors were Dr. Charlie Nelms and Dr. Ed Marshall.

And Joyce Rogers, former president and CEO of Indiana Black Expo, who now serves as vice president for development and external relations for diversity, equity and multicultural affairs with the IU Foundation, is also here today.

Commitment to Diversity is Fundamental to IU’s Success

The enduring success of a great university, especially a great public institution like Indiana University, depends, in large part, on its commitment to embracing diversity in the broadest sense.

As part of that commitment, IU recruits students and faculty from diverse cultural backgrounds. But it is also essential that we identify and address the obstacles that stand between many minority students and a college education. This is a complex challenge that can only be met if parents, communities, secondary educators, institutions like IU, and organizations like Indiana Black Expo work together.

One of the ways IU addresses this challenge is by partnering with school corporations all across the state. Here in Indianapolis, for example, a highly successful program helps ease the transition from high school to the university for students from Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School, who enroll in courses and study on the IUPUI campus.

We are currently working with the Indianapolis Public School Corporation to expand this program so that underrepresented students from additional high schools can get a head start on their university and professional careers. We want to ultimately encourage students in these programs to complete degrees at IU, where they can earn an affordable college education at one of the nation’s leading public universities.

These are just a few of the initiatives that reflect IU’s ongoing efforts to build community and further increase diversity among our faculty, staff and student body.

There are many others, including our partnership with a number of Historically Black Colleges and Universities to promotes and develop the STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering and math—and IU’s Hudson and Holland Scholars Program, which has, for nearly 25 years, recruited high-achieving, underrepresented minority students to IU Bloomington.

We also recently launched the Indiana University Advisory Council for Diversity, whose members advise the university on issues of diversity and assist in raising funds to help attract and retain students from diverse and underserved populations.

Conclusion

As we approach the 200th anniversary of Indiana University, which we will celebrate in 2020, it is our goal to ensure that the student populations on all of our campuses around the state more closely reflect the ethnic composition of their regions. We will also continue to build on our efforts to ensure that an IU education is accessible and affordable for all qualified students, including first-generation college students and students from under-represented minorities.

And as we work toward these goals, we will continue to work with dedicated and committed partners like Indiana Black Expo.

This Summer Celebration and the Circle City Classic are two of the organization’s more visible efforts. But throughout the year, in communities around the state, Indiana Black Expo works to improve the quality of life for young African Americans through mentoring programs, leadership development, and scholarship programs. IBE and its president and CEO, Tanya Bell, are to be commended for these very important efforts, and I look forward to many more years of continued partnership between Indiana Black Expo and Indiana University.

Thank you very much.