For All: Indiana University Bicentennial Kickoff

Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum
Indianapolis, Indiana
September 26, 2015


Thank you very much. Laurie and I really are delighted to be here tonight for what is truly an historic night in the life of Indiana University. Tonight we formally launch “For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign.” It is the first true university-wide campaign, as it involves all campuses, and it will ensure that IU’s transformative impact on the state, the nation, and the world continues into our third century and for generations to come.

Historic Periods of Growth and Transformation

A century ago, as Indiana University approached its centennial, IU’s tenth president, William Lowe Bryan, was presiding over what was the largest period of growth and change in the university’s history. It was during this period that IU grew prodigiously with the addition of nine new schools to the original just two. These included IU’s graduate school and many of the schools that provide the backbone of education and research in the professions in Indiana, and especially in the health and medical sciences, where IU continues to educate the vast majority of Indiana’s physicians, dentists, and optometrists.

This massive academic transformation was paralleled by enormous physical growth, with the construction of 40 new buildings in Bloomington and Indianapolis, and by research moving to center stage in the mission of Indiana University.

All of these initiatives transformed Indiana University from a small, traditional liberal arts college into one of the leading modern research universities of the 20th century, with an educational reach to every part of the state, from the north to the south and the east to the west, through vibrant regional campuses and prospering medical education centers.

One hundred years later, as we approach the bicentennial of Indiana University, we are again seeing change on a scale not seen for 100 years. Over the last eight years, Indiana University has undergone its most extensive academic transformation since the Bryan era. Eight schools have been newly established or reconfigured and, finally, a long-overdue engineering program has been established in Bloomington. Over this same time, IU has seen the most active period of building and renovation in its history, with the construction or renovation of nearly 70 major facilities on all its campuses—including new or renovated space for all of IU’s new schools. And through our global gateway offices, we have raised the IU flag in Beijing, in New Delhi, and next month, in Berlin.

All of this extraordinary change is focused with the greatest single-mindedness on two paramount goals—providing students with the best, most contemporary and most affordable education possible and pursuing transformative research and scholarship at the highest level of excellence. All of this is being done in service to our state and its regions, our nation, and the world. And we aspire to learn, to know, to teach, to heal, to build, and to guide, as our forebears have done for nearly 200 years, and as tonight we all pledge to do for another 100 years and beyond.

This will truly be a campaign “for all” but it will need all of us. It will be through all of our generous, unselfish and unstinting support for the Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign that we can ensure that IU remains, and grows further, as one of the great public research universities of the world, one that is a shining beacon of hope and a better life, “for all”.

The Bicentennial Campaign Priorities

The campaign we launch tonight will emphasize four broad priorities. These reflect the central goals of The Bicentennial Strategic Plan for Indiana University—the plan approved by our trustees last year for ensuring the enduring excellence of Indiana University.

First, we must do more to help students succeed. Your support will help provide scholarships to keep an IU education affordable for greater numbers of students and enable them to graduate with as little debt as possible. It will also allow us attract an increasingly diverse student body and to provide students with a strong foundation in the arts, one of IU’s great glories. It will allow us to continue to provide an education of the future with our unsurpassed information technology resources, to provide the career development students need to establish themselves productively and successfully in society, and to expand the opportunities for students to serve their communities across the state and around the world. The Campaign is seeking gifts to endow at least 1,200 new scholarships on all our campuses. 

Second, our mission must be to create global leaders. The need for individuals with global cultural understanding and experience and the ability to work productively with people from different cultures and traditions has never been greater. The world has not seemed this perilous for 70 years. By increasing the number of IU students who serve and study abroad, we provide future leaders in our country who are globally literate. Your support will increase their number, especially for those of talent and drive from the poorest and most straightened of circumstances. The Campaign is seeking gifts to endow at least 400 study and service abroad scholarships. 

Third, we must recruit and retain the very best and most creative faculty who are the innovators and leaders in their disciplines. There is no university without them. Your support will increase the number of endowed chairs and professorships that will allow us to attract and retain the outstanding scholars and artists who will teach the next generation, and who will develop the ideas and innovations that will transform the way people live, and improve Indiana’s economy and our national competitiveness by finding solutions to the very Grand Challenges that Vice President Cate described. The Campaign is seeking gifts to endow at least 100 new chairs and professorships. And we must also support more graduate research students who are the future of their disciplines. Hence, the Campaign is seeking gifts to endow at least 200 new graduate fellowships.

And finally, the Campaign will raise funds that will help IU create a healthier state, nation, and world. We will strengthen our efforts to help address Indiana’s serious public health needs, and we will continue to invest in world-class research and training in selected areas of the health sciences to develop new and improved treatments and cures.

As an incentive then for donors to help us achieve these four goals and establish endowed faculty positions, scholarships, and fellowships, I am very pleased to announce that the university will match all qualifying gifts.

Announcing the Goal

And now it is time to announce the goal for the Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign.

The goal will be $2.5 billion.

This is the most ambitious fundraising goal ever in Indiana University’s history and one of the largest ever by a public university. The gifts to this Campaign will inspire and support outstanding students, faculty, and staff across the entire university on all campuses as they write the next chapters of Indiana University’s long and luminous history. 

And I am delighted to announce that, as the public phase of the Campaign begins, we are nearly halfway to achieving this ambitious goal, having raised just under $1.2 billion! 

As part of the Campaign, a concerted, university-wide effort will be made as well to encourage all IU faculty and staff to contribute. We seek to raise $25 million in new gifts from faculty and staff for endowed projects—which will also be matched.

We expect that many of our faculty and staff colleagues from across the university will enthusiastically join the Campaign and many already have. Laurie and I would like to join them by announcing our personal commitment to the Campaign tonight, and I ask Laurie to join me on stage. 

Laurie and I will be making a gift of $1 million to the Campaign to endow two professorships. Laurie will describe the first one.

[Laurie McRobbie:].

 As many of you know, both Michael and I have backgrounds in computer and information technology. And IU’s new engineering program in Bloomington may well be one of the most transformative developments in the recent history of that campus.

So, we are delighted to announce that we will be endowing a professorship in computer engineering in IU Bloomington’s new Department of Intelligent Systems Engineering in the School of Informatics and Computing.

There will be a preference that the person appointed to this position be a woman as women remain sorely under-represented nationally among faculty in computing and engineering, so this gift will have an even greater impact on a crucial area for our new century.


Strengthening IU as a great international university that is educating the next generation of global leaders and scholars and playing a prominent role in America’s global engagement has been one of my central priorities as president, and a personal passion of Laurie’s and mine. Nothing has been more important to IU’s international agenda than the establishment of the School of Global and International Studies.

So, we are delighted to announce that we will also be endowing a professorship in global strategic studies in the School of Global and International Studies.

All of our Trustees have made commitments to the Campaign. Trustees Tobias, Bishop, Eskew, Mohr, Morris and Williams are all here tonight, and I ask all of them to stand with their spouses for our grateful acknowledgement.

I am also delighted to note that the whole senior leadership of Indiana University—all vice presidents, chancellors and deans—are wholeheartedly supporting the Campaign and are all making personal gifts to support the areas of Indiana University that mean the most to them. Could all vice presidents, chancellors and deans with their spouses and partners please also stand for our grateful acknowledgement?


During Indiana University’s first great period of growth and expansion 100 years ago, William Lowe Bryan observed that friends of the university were making philanthropic gifts at an unprecedented rate because, in his words, “the state university… represents the whole people, and serves the whole people.”1 

While much has changed since President Bryan’s era, Indiana University’s steadfast commitment, as the state’s public university, to serving the “whole people” has remained constant and unwavering.

The Campaign we launch tonight reflects this steadfast commitment to the whole people. It will open doors of opportunity across the entire university for students to have access to education, to scholars to freely follow their curiosity, to scientists to make dramatic discoveries, and to doctors and other health professionals who can perfect new treatments and cures that improve the health and wellness of citizens of the state. It will truly be “for all.”

Introducing Pat Miller

Now, it is my great honor to introduce a very distinguished alumna and a great friend of Indiana University, Patricia Miller.

Pat Miller is the co-founder of the highly successful design company, Vera Bradley. 

Pat’s extensive service to Indiana University has included service on the IU Foundation Board of Directors, the Varsity Club Board, and IU’s Jacobs School of Music Advisory Board. She has also been honored with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award, Indiana University’s highest accolade for alumni.

In addition to her personal philanthropy to the university, she has, through the Vera Bradley Foundation, donated extremely generously to the IU School of Medicine in the fight to cure and eradicate breast cancer.

Her husband, Mike, is a graduate of IU’s Maurer School of Law, so they are truly an IU family. 

Please join me in welcoming Patricia Miller. 

Source Notes

  1. William Lowe Bryan, “The Era of Gifts,” message to alumni to be read at the annual Foundation Day meetings, January, 1917, IU Archives.