Farewell Reception for Bobby Schnabel

Indiana Memorial Union Solarium
IU Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana
October 5, 2015

Welcome and Acknowledgements

Good afternoon and welcome, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you all very much for joining us as we gather to celebrate the extraordinary service given by Bobby Schnabel to Indiana University, and to wish Bobby—and his wife of 34 years, Edie Stevenson—the very best as Bobby becomes the executive director and CEO of the world’s oldest and largest professional computing society, the Association of Computing Machinery.

I think it is a mark of the esteem in which Bobby is held by so many colleagues and friends at Indiana University that we have a huge array of dignitaries and senior administrators from across the university here.

I do want to recognize Trustee Phil Eskew, who is with us today. Would you join me in welcoming him?

I also want to welcome former Trustee Steve Ferguson, who served as chair of the of the Industry Advocacy and Advisory Board, a group of Indiana business leaders who lent invaluable support to the establishment of a new program in intelligent systems engineering within the School of Informatics and Computing.

Would you join me in welcoming him?

Honoring Bobby Schnabel

Events like this one are bittersweet occasions as we reflect on Bobby’s tremendous accomplishments and wish him the very best as he continues his career as CEO of the Association of Computing Machinery.

Bobby came to IU in 2007 from the University of Colorado at Boulder. His national reputation as an eminent researcher, academic, and administrator made him a perfect fit to take the helm of the School of Informatics and Computing.

As I think most of you know, Bobby has overseen a period of enormous growth and change in the school. Since he became dean, undergraduate enrollment in the school at IU Bloomington has tripled, school-wide graduate enrollment has nearly doubled, and research funding more than doubled to $20 million annually.

Working closely with colleagues across the university, Bobby also oversaw the implementation of one of the many recommendations that came out of the groundbreaking New Academic Directions Report—the merger of the highly ranked School of Library and Information Science with the School of Informatics to form the School of Informatics and Computing.

Bobby’s leadership of the merger was characterized by qualities that have been the hallmark of his career: mutual respect and collaboration.

Bobby immediately invited representatives from the School of Library and Information Science on both the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses to serve on the School of Informatics Leadership Council.

He met regularly with then-dean of SLIS, Debora Shaw. He met with many SLIS faculty individually and in faculty meetings—all of which served to ease the transition leading up the merger of the two schools.

The merger created the broadest and perhaps the largest computing and information school at any university in the United States. It also created new opportunities for collaboration—and Bobby has been a strong advocate for the multidisciplinary collaborations that are absolutely vital to the fulfillment of the school's mission. One important manifestation of such collaboration was the addition last year of a new master’s degree in the rapidly expanding field of data science. This is an area of great national need that draws upon all parts of the school’s heritage: computer science, informatics, information science, and library science.

I have already described a vast amount of transformational change and growth that has taken place under Bobby’s leadership—but in the last year, he led yet another initiative that will have a transformative effect on the school, the university, and the state.

One year ago in my State of the University address, I announced that we would begin the process of establishing a program in intelligent system engineering.

Bobby chaired an internal review committee that issued an excellent report recommending the establishment of such a program. A Blue Ribbon Committee of highly respected and immensely experienced academic experts and leaders in engineering reviewed their report and concurred that the development of an engineering program at IU Bloomington was critical to support the research needs of current faculty, to educate students effectively in the STEM fields and applied technology, and to foster collaboration with other research universities and programs in the state and beyond.

These reports were followed by recommendations for the bachelor's and Ph.D. degrees from faculty committees, which proceeded through our normal academic approval processes, including the School of Informatics and Computing's curriculum committee.

Bobby helped to shepherd that process, and his vital contributions in this area will help IU Bloomington reach its full potential as a research university and more fully contribute to the state’s economic development.

He also, of course, helped to facilitate a number of major gifts that have ensured that the school will have a state-of-the-art facility to accommodate its tremendous growth. On Friday, we broke ground for Luddy Hall, the school’s new home in Bloomington, a magnificent building that will be funded, in part, by a generous gift of $8 from former IU student and tech developer Fred Luddy. Luddy Hall will also be one of the central features of a new Woodlawn Corridor that will become a continuous north-south boulevard linking the main academic campus to the athletics campus—one of the key elements of the IU Bloomington Master Plan.

Bobby also served as interim vice president for research for Indiana University from 2009 to 2010, while also continuing his responsibilities as dean of the School of Informatics. Bobby accomplished a great deal in this dual administrative role. He championed important initiatives to increase women's rates of participation in science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. He also worked to increase the number of interdisciplinary projects in the growing area of health informatics.

Bobby has received a number of major awards in recognition of his many accomplishments.

Last year, Bobby received the TechPoint Mira Trailblazer in Technology Award, which recognizes individuals whose vision and efforts in advancing technology have made a lasting and significant impact on Indiana.

Bobby also has a strong commitment to diversity and has championed programs promoting diversity in IT at all levels. In a moment, you will hear from Provost Lauren Robel about Bobby’s contributions to the establishment of the Center of Excellence for Women in Technology, an initiative on which Bobby has worked closely with my wife, Laurie.

In 2012, in recognition of Bobby’s efforts to increase the presence of underrepresented groups in computing research, he received the A. Nico Habermann Award from the Computing Research Association. The award is considered the premiere recognition for promoting diversity in the American computing research community.

Indiana University and the state of Indiana owe him a great debt for his outstanding service over the past eight years.

I will miss his wise counsel and his friendship. He has been a superb colleague in every way: thoughtful, intelligent, collaborative and he will, I am sure, make an outstanding CEO of the Association for Computing Machinery. The Association is gaining an outstanding educator, an exceptionally talented administrator, and a visionary leader.

On behalf of all our colleagues at Indiana University, I want to extend to Bobby and Edie our very best wishes.

Presentation of The President's Medal for Excellence

Bobby, would you please join me at the podium?

In recognition of all that you have done for Indiana University; for the students, faculty and staff of the School of Informatics and Computing; for all that you have done to foster and encourage multidisciplinary collaboration; and for your outstanding leadership of academic initiatives that serve the needs of Indiana University students and contribute to the economic development of the region and the state, it is my great pleasure to present you with the highest honor an Indiana University president can bestow: the President’s Medal for Excellence.

This medal itself is a reproduction in silver of the symbolic jewel of office worn by Indiana University’s president at ceremonial occasions. The precious stones represent the university’s cultivation of reading, writing, and arithmetic, as well as the arts, sciences, and humanities.

This medal is given to recognize exceptional distinction in public service, service to Indiana University, achievement in a profession, or extraordinary merit and achievement in the arts, humanities, sciences, education, and industry.

Bobby, in every one of these categories, your distinction has been extraordinary during your outstanding career at Indiana University, and for that let me extend our deepest and most grateful thanks.

So, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the trustees of Indiana University, and in gratitude for your extraordinary service, dedication, and leadership over many years, I am privileged and honored to present to you the President’s Medal for Excellence.