"Breaking Ground and Continuing Leadership in Information Technology at Indiana University"

Cyberinfrastructure Building Groundbreaking
Indiana University Bloomington
April 29, 2010

A Transformative Moment in IT at IU

When announcing the university’s Digital Music Library in 2000, IU’s sixteenth President Myles Brand said, “Information technology is changing the landscape of modern universities.”1

Today, as we break ground on this eagerly anticipated new Cyberinfrastructure Building, we can see the truth of that statement. IT has changed the intellectual landscape of modern research universities, playing an essential role in the research and educational missions of this century’s finest universities.

President Brand recognized from the outset that a great modern research university like IU must have first-rate IT facilities and infrastructure. It is safe to say that this recognition signaled a transformative moment for Indiana University.

It signaled the increasing expectation on the part of students that their university provide the best information technology around the clock. They want data at their fingertips and support just an e-mail, text, or tweet away. They want a wireless environment that will allow them to work virtually anywhere on campus. And this is what they have found at Indiana University for many years—with specialized facilities like the Information Commons in the Wells Library and Student Technology Centers across campus, with among the most robust IT help desks in the country, and with one of the country’s most wired campuses.

This recognition signaled a sea change in faculty research as scholars across the university adapted their teaching and research to take best advantage of the university’s growing IT infrastructure. I mentioned the Digital Music Library a moment ago, but there are hundreds of other examples of ways in which faculty research has been transformed by information technology. Provost Hanson will offer more on this in just a moment.

President Brand gave me the honor of leading the implementation of his vision at this pivotal moment. During my tenure as the university’s first vice president for information technology starting in 1996, I worked with an outstanding team of people focused on the problem of building IT infrastructure of the highest standards to support what has become critical to the university’s fundamental missions of education and research.

We began working on the solution of this problem with the construction of the Informatics and Communications Technology Complex—the ICTC Building—on the IUPUI campus, which was dedicated in 2004. With the dedication of the IU Data Center this past fall, we have taken care of IU’s core IT infrastructure, including most of its major supercomputer systems, housing them in appropriate facilities that will help ensure the continuity and security of essential and critical IT services for the university community.

This past fall, we also dedicated the Innovation Center, which provides a home for IU’s Pervasive Technology Institute, where researchers will work collaboratively with colleagues in the CIB and Data Center. The Innovation Center will also house offices for the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and for the School of Informatics and Computing.

The CIB: A Quartet Of Possibilities

The Cyberinfrastructure Building will complete this quartet of buildings that leverages IU’s IT resources by consolidating many of IU’s IT staff on the Bloomington campus into one building. The CIB reflects IU’s status as a national IT leader, but it is not a “status building.” It is a functional space that will enable staff to collaborate more easily, share resources, and generate ideas. The relocation of staff and equipment into both the Data Center and the CIB also opens up additional research, education, and engagement opportunities at Tenth and the Bypass.

This quartet of buildings provides the infrastructure for talent, bringing together faculty, students, and staff members, who, together, create something quite remarkable in terms of advancing the university’s research efforts and in helping us attract private sector investment to this same location. This confluence of talent and infrastructure promises to serve as a magnet in luring new technology-based opportunities and investments to Bloomington.

Clearly, these four facilities do not operate in isolation. Staff at the CIB will support the educational and research missions of the entire university, and the buildings themselves anchor the research and educational corridor that runs along the north side of the campus. Travelling west down Tenth Street, you would pass the Wells Library, SPEA, the Kelley School, the Psychology Building, Multidisciplinary Science Building II, the Geological Sciences Building, and finally, just before Woodlawn Avenue, the School of Informatics and Computing.

All told, those facilities provide nearly one million square feet of research and teaching space. And they anchor the corridor that runs to the north that terminates at the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute (MPRI) and the new Center for the Exploration of Energy and Matter at IU’s Cyclotron, which provides the proton beam for MPRI.

All of these facilities also demonstrate the power of proximity in research and education. It was IU Nobel Laureate Ferid Murad who once said, “I honestly don’t know where I collect and collate information. . . It can be bumping into someone in the elevator or the hallway or some international meeting or whatever.”2 This is as true for IU researchers as it is for our staff members.

Special Thanks

That we are breaking ground on this facility today, part of such a broad-ranging and complex plan to consolidate IU’s information technology experts, is testimony to the dedication of many groups and individuals.

We are especially grateful for the support that the Indiana General Assembly has given us over the years. In addition to the $16 million for this project, that includes generous support for the I-Light optical fiber network, which is so important to the redundancy and security of our systems and which serves the higher education community throughout the state.

I would also like to specially recognize Brad Wheeler, who succeeded me as Vice President for Information Technology and CIO and who has done a superb job in bringing this project through its final stages to reality.

I also want to recognize and thank a host of outstandingly talented people from University Information Technology Services, most of whom I worked with very closely over many years and who were intimately involved in what was an extremely complicated undertaking. In particular, thanks to Laurie Antolovic, who led the planning efforts, and Sue Workman, who led the early conceptual plans. Please join me in thanking our colleagues for what have been outstanding contributions to this project.

Special thanks also go to Bob Richardson and Jeff Kaden from the IU Architect’s Office, SmithGroup architects Bob Bull and Bill Ash, and Associate Architect Chuck Bauer from Ratio Architects. Their diligent efforts this past December and over the holidays are a large part of the reason this project has moved along so steadily. Would you join me in thanking them?

Conclusion

It is only fitting that I have concluded with the people who continue to work to strengthen Indiana University, because this project is about people.

It is about providing a highly functional and appropriate environment in which to work, an environment where the roof does not leak and the building does not flood. It is about using our resources most effectively and efficiently. And it is about providing IU staff members a productive and collaborative space that encourages innovation and achievement.

Thank you very much.

Source Notes

1. “IU Receives $3 Million Grant to Create Digital Music Library.” Variations2 Indiana University Digital Music Library Project. 20 Sept. 2000. Indiana University. Bloomington, Indiana. <http://dml.indiana.edu/press_release.html>

2.Cohen, Jon. “Designer Labs: Architecture Discovers Science.” Science 14 Jan. 2000. Science Magazine Website. Accessed 19 Oct. 2009.http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/287/5451/210