“Diversity and Equity at Indiana University”

Indiana Black Expo
Touchdown Club/North Club Lounge
RCA Dome, Indianapolis
July 22, 2007

Thank you all very much for coming this afternoon. It really is a great honor to be here with my wife Laurie as part of the 37th annual Indiana Black Expo.

I am very proud to say that IU’s partnership with this remarkable event has strengthened, especially in recent years, and I hope to see the relationship continue to blossom in the future.

I am particularly pleased and honored to see so many distinguished alumni here this afternoon. And I would like to extend a special welcome to some very noteworthy guests:

  • France Córdova, president of Purdue University
  • Robert Lewis, national president of Neal-Marshall Alumni Club
  • Charles Bantz, IUPUI chancellor

A Student of American Society

As most of you know, I was born and raised in Australia.

What you probably do not know is that my father was an immigrant to Australia from Scotland who did not finish high school, and I am a first-generation college graduate. I know first-hand the impact that educational opportunities can offer each of us, and I can honestly say that education has been one key to my pathway to success.

I took my first trip to the United States in 1985. Up to that point, most of what I knew of America and American history, I had learned through extensive reading and study. But no amount of study can fully reveal the role that race has played in shaping American society. A little over a decade after that first trip, I found myself, like my father, an immigrant though this time to America.

Since arriving at Indiana University in 1997, I have had many conversations, especially in recent years, with leaders in the African American community. Vice President Nelms, President Adam Herbert, Trustees Boone and Breckenridge, IU law professor Kevin Brown, IU alumnus Bill Mays, and many other people have offered a first-hand understanding of the issues that affect African American faculty, staff, and students throughout the university.

The stories of “firsts” at IU—Frances Marshall, Marcellus Neal, Bill Garrett, Cora Breckenridge, President Herbert, among others—are stories of the struggle and triumph of education against barriers to opportunity. These stories have reinforced my strong belief in the vital importance of diversity and equity as core values at the heart of public higher education.

I am committed to building on IU’s historic commitment to a more equitable and diverse university.

A Deep and Abiding Commitment to Diversity and Equity

We can look to giants in IU’s past to see the strong foundations upon which our current commitment is built. We can remember Herman B Wells, IU’s legendary eleventh president, who led the charge to desegregate its athletic, dining, and residence hall facilities. He made a deep and abiding commitment to improving race relations. We can remember Bill Garrett, the stellar IU basketball player who was the first African-American to play in the Big Ten and George Taliaferro, the standout running back at IU, who was the first African-American to be drafted by the NFL. We can remember Herman Hudson, who founded the Department of African American Studies at IU, the African American Arts Institute, and countless other programs. Through his leadership and vision, he created a more supportive environment for African American students and other underrepresented groups.

Several years after his retirement, Dr. Hudson said, “It is an important factor that there is a continuity of programs for minority students that offer personal help and are successful.”

That continuity, that deep and abiding commitment, is absolutely crucial, especially at this time of transition.

During his tenure as IU’s seventeenth president, Dr. Adam Herbert strengthened the foundations for diversity and equity. I am committed to building on those strong foundations.

Indeed, President Herbert made many significant contributions to IU that will add greatly to its standing as an educational and research institution of the first rank. His strong support for the university’s life sciences initiative, his legislative outreach, and his strong support for students were unwavering. He brought administrative reform and stability to IU athletics, as well as his own enthusiasm and advocacy.

I am grateful for all of his contributions and am committed to continuing his efforts, opening wider the gates of opportunity to all students, faculty, and staff at IU.

Crucial Appointments

I have been acting on this commitment to diversity since my years as IU’s vice president for information technology.

In 2002, I established the Gerald L. Bepko Student Internship Program, which especially encourages students of color to pursue IT careers. As interim provost, one of my first senior level appointments was African-American James Wimbush as Dean of the University Graduate School.

Dr. Wimbush is an award-winning professor and highly respected administrator in the Kelley School of Business. He is dedicated to strengthening graduate education across the board with a special interest in improving diversity and equity for this important group. I am very pleased that Dr. Wimbush will join my cabinet in recognition of the importance of graduate education at Indiana University.

For over 22 years, Dr. Charlie Nelms has shared that interest as a champion of equity for all students. His official posts have been at IU Northwest, as chancellor of IU East, and as Vice President for Institutional Development and Student Affairs based at IU Bloomington, but his influence has spanned the university.

As Dr. Nelms moves on to new challenges, we owe him a debt of gratitude for his visionary leadership, the effects of which will be felt for years to come. Dr. Nelms’ tremendous contributions have made the search for his successor even more difficult… but not impossible.

As I am sure many of you know, earlier this week I appointed Dr. Ed Marshall, who will be succeeding Dr. Nelms as vice president for diversity, equity, and multicultural affairs. Dr. Marshall has served as professor and associate dean for academic affairs and student administration in the IU School of Optometry. He is an extremely accomplished member of the faculty, who has also established a truly national and international reputation for academic excellence in his profession.

In his new position, Dr. Marshall will oversee and enhance IU’s many diversity and equity initiatives. I will also call upon his considerable expertise and experience in education around the globe and in public health to inform the university’s international and life sciences initiatives. We are tremendously pleased that Dr. Marshall has accepted this new challenge. Would you all join me in congratulating him?

Joint Statement on Diversity

In May, President Herbert and I issued a joint statement on diversity that outlines IU’s current and forthcoming efforts to enhance diversity and equity across the university. (Copies are available here this afternoon.)

In order to meet the Board of Trustees’ call to double minority enrollment by 2013–14, IUB has established the Presidential Incentive Initiative, the IU Pell Promise Award, and the 21st Century Scholars Covenant to encourage enrollment. It has strengthened the Hudson-Holland Scholars Program, invested in the Lugar Scholars Program and has enhanced K–12 partnerships.

And this is just the beginning.

The Million Dollar Initiative

Over the last six months, Dr. Nelms and I formed a new initiative as the next strategic step to further strengthen our diversity and equity efforts.

Today marks the formal announcement of what we are calling the Million Dollar Initiative.

This strategic investment in equal opportunity and educational excellence targets students at virtually every stage of their education. It focuses on five target areas. And it is one more important way to ensure that the higher admissions standards going into effect on the Bloomington campus in 2011 include all students who have great potential.

K-12 Partnerships

To meet our new recruitment goals, the pool of eligible students must be enlarged. The Million Dollar Initiative invests $200,000 in pre-collegiate programs that include on-campus orientations and summer experiences for students as young as eleven and twelve.

This is an investment in the future of the state of Indiana.

These programs will work in concert with IU’s other successful K–12 partnerships, which range from the Futures in Education program at IU South Bend to the Indiana Urban School Association working with IUPUI; from study buddies at IU East to Pathways to Success, a program designed to prepare students in Marion, Lake, and St. Joseph counties for the developing life sciences economy.

All of these collaborations promise to expand the pool of interested and capable high school students who are well prepared to meet the challenges of a college education regardless of where they choose to study.

Of course, we hope they choose IU.

21st Century Scholars Support

The 21st Century Scholars Program began in 1990 as Indiana’s way of raising the educational aspirations of low- and moderate-income families. The program promises to pay tuition and fees at Indiana colleges and universities, so that a college education is affordable for Indiana families and their children.

Beginning this academic year, Indiana University has partnered with the State of Indiana by creating a covenant with freshmen 21st Century Scholars. The 21st Century Scholar Covenant provides sufficient grant aid to meet all additional financial need, up to the full cost of attendance. Students will have the opportunity to graduate debt-free in four years.

The Covenant also provides support services to help 21st Century Scholars achieve their academic ambitions at IU Bloomington. The Million Dollar Initiative specifically targets $75,000 toward expanding these vital support services.

Targeted Marketing

The Million Dollar Initiative will not be as effective as we want it to be if we do not get the word out more generally. This is one of the things that Black Expo is all about.

To spread the word, the project includes significant investment in targeted marketing. These efforts include participation in community events, radio and television advertisements, and select print media in cities such as Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Gary, East Chicago, and South Bend.

However, our commitment to marketing is not limited to this recent investment.

The Office of Enrollment Management has refined part of its marketing campaign to appeal particularly to African American students and their families. For the first time, IU will be included in the nationally distributed African American Student’s College Guide.

These elements translate into increased awareness of the opportunities that IU offers across the state. We will invest $100,000 to achieve this goal.

As high school students of color make one of the most important decisions in their lives, we want their first thought to be Indiana University.

HBCU-STEM Initiative

The Million Dollar Initiative will invest $100,000 in IU’s partnerships with historically black colleges and universities. The HBCU-STEM program, announced earlier this year, targets science, technology, engineering, and mathematics undergraduates. Undergraduate student exchanges, an important element of the program, encourage African American students to pursue graduate education at Indiana University upon their graduation.

The HBCU-STEM program works in partnership with IU’s K–12 and pre-collegiate programs to prepare a generation, start to finish, for the tremendous economic and educational opportunities in the life sciences.

In fact, just last Wednesday, the New York Times featured an article on three of the nine HBCU undergraduates conducting intensive research at IUPUI and IU Bloomington this summer.

As President Herbert and I said in our joint statement on diversity, “True diversity and true opportunity mean more than tokenism; they require a real commitment to significant representation of currently under-represented groups.” This partnership is a long-term commitment that promises lasting and substantial individual and institutional rewards.

Hudson and Holland Scholars Program

Fifth and finally:
The Hudson and Holland Scholars Program has been the centerpiece of IU’s recruitment and retention efforts for the past 15 years. Its goal is to recruit high-achieving, underrepresented minority students to the Bloomington campus. Over the last four years, the number of Hudson/Holland scholars has increased by 45 percent, and the graduation rate of Hudson/Holland students is well over 10 percent better than the campus average.

Robert Koffie, who started his career at IU as a Hudson/Holland Scholar, added to that graduation rate this summer when he earned distinction as a double major in chemistry and physics.

During the course of his career at IU, he was also named a Wells Scholar and earned the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship. This fall he will be attending Harvard to pursue a joint M.D. and Ph.D. degree and plans to be a physician-scientist specializing in neurodegenerative diseases.

Like countless IU alums, Robert will make a difference in this world.

In light of this program’s great success, the Million Dollar Initiative will invest half a million dollars to enhance support services. In fact, this half million is on top of an additional million dollars in financial aid that I authorized last year to support Hudson/Holland Scholars.

IU Business Diversity Program

Each of these initiatives aims to make Indiana University a more accessible and affordable institution for Hoosier students. Each opens doors of possibility to African American students in particular.

But IU is also looking beyond the classroom for ways to increase opportunity through our commitment to diversity and equity.

To that end, the IU Business Diversity Program, established in 2004, ensures that minority, women, and small business owned firms are given the opportunity to compete for the university’s business. In its first three years, the initiative has increased procurement from minority and women business enterprises from $17 million to $41 million. That is a 24 million dollars difference.

This provides strong testimony to the economic value of partnerships between the university and surrounding communities.

I will continue to support the IU Business Diversity Program and expect a new Director of Business Diversity and Compliance Programs will be appointed in the near future.

Challenge to IU’s Neal-Marshall Alumni Association

Diversity programs are important.

Strategic investment in equity is important.

But you, our distinguished black alumni, are vital to IU’s efforts to achieve a more diverse and equitable university. Your voices, unified and amplified through the Neal-Marshall Alumni Club, are crucial to bringing about positive changes throughout the university and, indeed, throughout the state. As mentors to students of all ages, you will inspire them with your success and enable them to envision their futures at Indiana University.

I cannot stress enough the importance of your active involvement in the future of Indiana University.

Pathways Towards Progress: Strategic Diversity Planning

As President Herbert and I indicated in our joint statement on diversity, “The time has come to extend the goal of increasing the enrollment of under-represented minorities at the Bloomington campus to all campuses of Indiana University, to faculty and professional staff recruitment, and to the enterprises with which IU does business…”

We cannot achieve these ambitious goals without making a plan and following it towards success. This is precisely what Indiana University is doing.

Dr. Herbert and I called for leaders on all IU campuses to develop strategic diversity plans that clearly articulate our goals and lay out clear plans for achieving them.

Those goals must be ambitious because equal opportunity is so very important.

The legacy that we create must demonstrate our deep and abiding commitment to a world where diversity and excellence walk hand in hand, where equity and opportunity are available to all.

I look forward to working together with you to create that legacy.

Thank you very much.