"Rising to the Challenge and Extending IU's Commitment to Diversity and Equity"

Neal-Marshall Alumni Club Reunion 2007
Bloomington Convention Center
Bloomington, IN
October 20, 2007


It is a great pleasure to be here this evening for the Neal-Marshall Alumni Club reunion celebration. I would like to extend a special welcome to former IU Trustee Clarence Boone, Sr. What a tremendously exciting week this has been. And I am honored that Janet Cheatham Bell, George Taliaferro, and Dawn Knight have signed copies of their books for the Presidential Library in Bryan House at IU.

IU's Deep and Abiding Commitment

In the mid 1960s, Chancellor Herman B Wells spoke before the student commission on race relations. He asserted, “Our renunciation [of prejudice] must be personally implemented by deeds. Our actions will be the measure of the sincerity of our words.” (Stauffer, Sam. IDS article 01/06/66) With this statement, Wells expressed Indiana University’s deep and abiding commitment to diversity and equity.

Neal-Marshall Club Leadership

As IU’s distinguished black alumni, you represent that commitment. You are vital to our 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 successes and enable them to envision their futures at Indiana University.

Strong leadership is central to your efforts. Let me take a moment to commend the leadership of Robert Lewis, outgoing national president of the Neal-Marshall Club. Robert, thank you for your great efforts. I understand that Jerrol Miles is the club’s incoming president. I am certain he will bring drive and passion to this leadership role. Welcome, Jerrol. It seems we may be starting our tenures around the same time.

University Leadership Crucial to Commitment

University leadership is also vital to IU’s commitment to diversity and equity. During his tenure as IU’s seventeenth president, Dr. Adam Herbert strengthened the foundations for diversity and equity. I am grateful for his many contributions, and I am committed to continuing his efforts to open wider the gates of opportunity to all students, faculty, and staff at IU.

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. At IUB we have established the Presidential Incentive Initiative, the IU Pell Promise Award, and the 21st Century Scholars Covenant to encourage enrollment. We have strengthened the Hudson-Holland Scholars Program, invested in the Lugar Scholars Program, and has enhanced K-12 partnerships.

And this is just the beginning.

At my inauguration on Thursday, I also announced the newest initiative designed to help IU students succeed. Degrees of Excellence is a university-wide effort to increase graduation rates. Under this plan, the 21st Century Covenant and the Pell Promise programs established at Bloomington will be extended, where possible, to all campuses.

Dr. Charlie Nelms’ contributions have been central to many of these efforts. We owe Dr. Nelms our gratitude for his visionary leadership, the effects of which will be felt for years to come.

As I am sure many of you know, in July 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. I am personally tremendously pleased, as are all of my colleagues, that Dr. Marshall has accepted this new challenge.

Conclusion: Rising to the new Challenges

We all are facing new challenges these days. As we look toward the future, may we rise together to meet those challenges. May we extend this university’s deep and abiding commitment to diversity and equity. And may we work hand-in-hand to strengthen Indiana University’s traditions of excellence. Thank you.