IU Northwest Chancellor’s Medallion VIP Reception

Avalon Manor
Greenview Room
Merrillville, Indiana
November 12, 2015


Thank you, Bill [Stephan].

It is a pleasure to be here in Merrillville. I look forward to honoring some of Indiana University Northwest’s most loyal friends—Cal and Cathy Bellamy and the Northern Indiana Public Service Company—as part of the Chancellor’s Medallion dinner in a few moments.

I have had the pleasure of spending the day here in northwest Indiana, meeting with area leaders, touring the Ports of Indiana, and meeting with a group of outstanding IU Northwest students.

IU Northwest and the other regional campuses of Indiana University serve as invaluable economic and community development catalysts in their regions, and they play a major role in helping the state achieve its goal of increasing the number of Indiana residents with college degrees.

Nowhere is the impact of IU’s regional campuses more greatly felt than here in Gary and northwest Indiana. Nearly three-quarters of IU Northwest graduates stay in the area, using their new skills and knowledge to contribute—along with current IU Northwest students, faculty, and staff—in countless ways, large and small, to the civic, economic, and cultural life of this region and the state.

A Commitment to Student Success

As we approach the university’s Bicentennial, which we will celebrate in 2020, Indiana University is redoubling its commitment to student success.

Student success depends upon more than the content of individual courses or the curriculum of particular degree programs. An important part of it is conditioned by an environment that provides support in other ways, from student organizations that encourage personal and social growth; to services that support the physical and mental health and wellness of students; to physical environments that are safe and inspiring; and to building a community in which diversity of community and ideas is valued and in which all members of the community are committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct and integrity.

Indiana University’s longstanding commitment to embracing diversity in the broadest sense is also fundamental to student success. The Bicentennial Strategic Plan, a document that guides and informs all that we do at Indiana University, embodies that commitment—and in light of recent events at other universities that have made national headlines, let me take a moment this evening to underscore and reaffirm Indiana University’s firm and ongoing commitment to diversity.

As part of that commitment, we recruit students and faculty from diverse cultural backgrounds. We strive to ensure that cultural diversity is well represented in the curriculum. And we seek to ensure that members of our community who come from diverse backgrounds interact with one another in educationally purposeful ways. For through continued interaction with others who hold views that differ from our own—whose life experiences are vastly different from ours—our minds are opened to new ways of understanding. We comprehend, we empathize, we learn.

As part of our wide-ranging commitment to student success, we are also adopting innovations and realignments in our schools, programs, and course delivery. We continue to systematically review our existing programs. We strive to ensure that IU’s high quality education remains affordable. And we continue to build and renovate the facilities our students need for 21st century education, such as the new Arts and Sciences Building that is currently under construction on the IU Northwest campus.

Here in northwest Indiana, IU’s Center for P-16 Research and Collaboration—based in our School of Education—is engaged in a number of partnerships that support student success and are designed to improve college access. Many of these programs serve students from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education by strengthening pre-college preparation and transitions to college.

For example, the P-16 Center has a partnership with the Gary Community School Corporation, the School City of East Chicago, and the School City of Hammond that focuses on enhancing education in math and science, which are foundational areas to college success.

Keeping an Indiana University education affordable in both the short and long term is essential for our students’ success and for the wellbeing of their families. To that end, we’ve worked to keep tuition costs low and increase the amount of financial aid available.

Of course, all of us at IU share the widespread concern about the dramatic rise in student debt nationwide.

Through our groundbreaking comprehensive financial literacy program, started a little more than three years ago and in which we have led the nation, we have helped IU students lower their borrowing substantially—more than 16 percent over three years with savings of approximately $82.5 million. And our financial literacy program, like our efforts to keep tuition low, benefits students on all of our campuses around the state.

A Community of Scholars

Of course, Indiana University’s success also depends, in very large measure, on our ability to recruit and retain an outstanding, diverse and inclusive faculty of researchers, scholars, teachers, and artists who are recognized as among the very best in their fields. There is no university without them. They teach the next generation, and they develop the ideas and innovations that will transform the way people live, and improve Indiana’s economy and our national competitiveness.

Like faculty across the university, IU Northwest faculty members are frequently recognized to their excellence in teaching, research, and service.

The IU Northwest faculty includes Fulbright Fellows, fellows of the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence, and members of the Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching. Members of the IU Northwest faculty also consistently receive some of the university’s most prestigious awards.

Catalyzing Research

Indiana University is also a national leader in research.

This summer, we reported that in fiscal year 2015, IU researchers received $541 million in external research funding. This was the highest total of external research funding brought in by any public research university in the state during the last fiscal year and the second-highest total in IU history.

As one of the nation’s leading research universities, Indiana University has a special opportunity—and responsibility—to drive large-scale research, discovery and innovation to help address some of the most pressing challenges facing our state, nation and world today. Thus, we recently announced that we have launched the most ambitious research program in IU’s nearly 200-year history. Over the next five years, we will invest at least $300 million in the Grand Challenges research program to develop transformative solutions for some of the planet’s most pressing problems.

These projects will address challenges that are too big to ignore—such as global water supplies; the availability of energy; infectious diseases; harnessing the power of, and protecting, big data; and climate change—by catalyzing collaborative and interdisciplinary research, as well as new partnerships with community organizations, industry and government.

Health Sciences Research and Education to Improve The State and Nation's Health

Indiana University also continues to support and invest in health sciences research and education to improve the health of citizens of Indiana and the nation, and we see ample evidence of that commitment here in Gary in the IU School of Medicine-Northwest-Gary1, which is under the excellent direction of Dr. Patrick Bankston, who also serves as Dean of IU Northwest’s College of Health and Human Services. The School of Medicine-Northwest-Gary is one of eight regional medical education centers across the state, which can be thought of as extensions centers of our School of Medicine—the largest in the nation.

IU Northwest is only regional campus with a medical school located on campus, which offers enormous potential for partnerships between the campus and healthcare professionals, hospitals, and other facilities in the region. In fact, the school has more than 250 volunteer clinical faculty who help teach our students in all four years of medical school. The school also has 11 affiliate hospitals where our students can train with local physicians—the largest number of affiliated hospitals outside of Indianapolis.

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. Their 2006 report concluded that the school 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.2

One of the ways the school has worked to accomplish this increase has been to transform the regional medical education programs from 2-year to 4-year programs, as has been done here in Gary six years ago.

The IU School of Medicine-Northwest-Gary has subsequently graduated 24 students who completed all four years of their training in northwest Indiana and who went on to residencies in the Midwest. The school currently has 22 third- and fourth-year students training in northwest Indiana.

The school has also increased the size of its entering class from 18 to 32 since 2008. The Class of 2019 at the IU School of Medicine-Northwest-Gary is the largest and the most demographically and geographically diverse class in campus history. The first-year class includes students who earned undergraduate degrees on the Northwest, Bloomington, and Indianapolis campuses, from Purdue—including a former Purdue Professor—and from universities around the country. Among the IU Northwest alumni in the class is Rana Torabi, who is the third member of her family currently enrolled in the school. Her sister, Sara, is in her second year, and her brother, Asad, is in his third year.

Once students graduate from the School of Medicine-Northwest, they have to do their post-graduate training elsewhere, as northwest Indiana currently has no residency slots. However, the school has developed a partnership of hospitals, business organizations and academic institutions to explore the possibility of developing residency opportunities in the region. This has the potential to have an enormous impact on health care in the region and, at the same time, to have a major impact on regional economic development.

Bicentennial Campaign

Tonight, in addition to honoring this year’s Chancellor’s Medallion award recipients, we will also celebrate the launch of For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign, the first true university-wide fundraising campaign and one that will help support many of the goals I have mentioned. The campaign has a goal of $2.5 billion to be raised by 2020. It is the most ambitious fundraising goal in IU history and one of the largest ever for a public university.

Built on our strategic priorities, this unprecedented undertaking will fulfill IU’s promise to change the way we live through path-breaking research, innovative academic programs, unparalleled international engagement and an accessible and exceptionally valuable education.

Here at IU Northwest, your support for the campaign will open doors of opportunity 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.


You all are prime examples of the loyalty and generosity that help Indiana University to maintain the level of excellence that has been its hallmark for nearly 200 years.

Thank you for your leadership and for all you have done—and continue to do—for Indiana University.

I hope you enjoy the evening.

Source Notes

  1. Per Director Patrick Bankston, this is the official name
  2. <http://www.medicine.indiana.edu/news_releases_viewRelease.php4?art=605&print=true>