"A Great History and an Auspicious Beginning: Group 43 (1968) to Group 43 (2007)"

Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center
IU Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana
October 25, 2008

Introduction and Welcome

Thank you for that kind introduction, Evelyn. It is a pleasure to be here this morning to welcome all the visiting students to Indiana University and the distinguished Groups alums back to IU for a very busy Homecoming Weekend. I understand that this afternoon, you will be cheering on the Hoosiers against Northwestern.

An Historic Weekend: Groups at 40

But as you know, this weekend is about far more than Hoosier football, and you are far more than everyday homecoming guests here. This weekend we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Groups Program here at Indiana University. Your presence here is an historic tribute to the first contingent of 43 Groups students—Group 43 as they are known—who began their studies here in 1968.

Those students prepared for years to reach Indiana University. In fact, they may have been your age when they first thought of becoming IU Hoosiers. Like you, they faced many challenges as they moved from middle school to junior high to high school and finally on to college. But they focused on their studies and achieved their highest aspirations through education.

The Groups alumni that fill this room are testimony to those heights of achievement. Dennis Hayes is the Senior Vice President and the former Interim President and CEO of the NAACP. Dawn Ridley is Senior Vice President of the NFL Players Association. Deva Roberts is an award-winning Executive Director with the Brand Creative Group for TV Land and Nick at Nite. You may be familiar with these networks. And these are three of the countless success stories that are part of the great traditions of this university and the great success of the Groups program.

Another great success story takes us back to Group 43. I am not sure she was able to join us this morning, but Iris Rosa was in the very first Groups freshman cohort in 1968. Professor Rosa is now the director of the African American Dance Company and was the first Latina to be a tenured faculty member at Indiana University.

For many of you, of course, 1968—that first year of the Groups Program—is ancient history. For others, like me, it was just yesterday.

Sharing Stories of Achievement and Success

I can stand here all morning and tell you how important your education is. I can tell you that education is the key to your future. I can explain that you must dedicate yourselves to preparing for your college education by strengthening your writing and math skills. I believe all of this.

Or I can tell you stories that demonstrate these truths.

I could tell you the story of the student who was part of the Summer Scholars Institute here at IU this past summer and designed a completely new security system using a computer platform he had never used before. Or I could tell you about the young woman from Moscow, Russia, who is here studying the violin on a music scholarship. Or I could tell you about the student from Indianapolis who has won multiple scholarships and is double majoring in French and International Studies. These students, and countless others, have found a home at Indiana University. Theirs are stories of achievement and success.

These could be your stories.

I could tell you that 2,000 students from IU Bloomington studied around the world last year. We welcomed a record 6,000 international students this semester from 144 different countries. If you think a trip to Bloomington is exciting, imagine travelling to Brazil, Ghana, or India to study emerging business markets like students from the Kelley School of Business have done over the last few years. Imagine travelling to Guatemala to learn about health problems there, like a group of nursing students did last spring. Or imagine travelling to China to improve your language skills as our students from Indianapolis did recently.

IU students have the key to the global future, and that key is education. We want to share that key with you. We want you to be a part of IU’s great history of excellence in education and research. Let this weekend mark the first steps of your journey to Indiana University.