"Women of Distinction at Indiana University: The Colloquium for Women of Indiana University and Meryl Streep"

Henke Hall of Champions
November 12, 2010

Women of Distinction: Welcoming the Colloquium

It is a great pleasure to be here this evening to welcome the members of the Colloquium for Women of Indiana University. Everyone in this room understands the vital roles women play in the life of this university: as faculty, staff, and students; as distinguished alumni and great friends and supporters, giving generously of time, energy, and resources. Please accept my thanks for the many roles all of you play here.

It is not often that an event brings together a Nobel Prize winner, an internationally-recognized, award-winning journalist, and an Oscar, Golden Globe, and Emmy Award winning actress.

The Colloquium is just such an event.

I am sorry that Dr. Ostrom could not join us this evening, but I understand her talk this afternoon was something to remember. I am delighted to welcome Jane Pauley back to her alma mater. We were most fortunate that Jane could join us for an IU Alumni Association event in New York City recently and feel doubly fortunate that she is here with us this weekend. And it is a great pleasure to welcome Meryl Streep, whom I will introduce more formally in just a moment.

Principles of Excellence

Before I do that, I am pleased to share with you some highlights of the university’s extraordinary achievements over the past year or so. These highlights exemplify a number of principles of academic excellence that have guided Indiana University over the course of nearly two centuries.

An Excellent Education

The first principle is to provide an excellent education.

We are achieving that principle with sixty top-ranked programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Kelley School of Business, the Jacobs School of Music, and many other areas.

And we are offering that quality education to more students than ever. In August, we welcomed a record 109,000 students. That is 16,000 more than a decade ago, and up 51,000 from back in the 1970s, when some of you were IU students.

This fall at IU Bloomington, we welcomed more valedictorians than ever before among our beginning students. Those beginning students came in with record high grade point averages and average SAT scores around 1200, nearly 100 points higher than in recent years.

The International Dimension of Excellence

Another principle focuses on enhancing the international dimensions of education, research, and engagement.

We have seen dramatic increases in international study among IU students, even if we just consider IU Bloomington. In 1990, nearly 600 IU students studied abroad every year. Now the number is over 2,000. And in the early 90’s, we welcomed about 500 international students each year. Now the number is over 4,600, and 6,700 university-wide.

The best students from Indiana, across the country, and around the world are flocking to IU to study with outstanding faculty in outstanding academic programs.

An Excellent Faculty

A third principle of excellence is recruiting and retaining an outstanding faculty. Our faculty have received record accolades over the past year, with faculty being inducted into the Institute for Medicine of the National Academies, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the British Commonwealth’s Royal Society. And I never tire of mentioning Elinor Ostrom’s Nobel Prize in Economics.

Last year that award-winning faculty brought in a record of over $600 million in grants and awards supporting their research, $75 million more than the previous record set in 2008.

Excellence in Advancement

And just last month, two events took place at Indiana University that may be unprecedented in the history of higher education.

On October 8, we concluded the Matching the Promise Campaign for IU Bloomington, the most successful fundraising campaign in the university’s history. The very next night, we launched the public phase of Impact IUPUI, IU’s most ambitious fundraising campaign ever.

Matching the Promise raised an astounding $1.144 billion for our Bloomington campus, and Impact IUPUI has already raised $860 million toward its record-setting $1.25 billion goal.

This remarkable support is allowing IU to compete for the most outstanding students and faculty, and to build the facilities our faculty and students need for 21st century research and education.

That many of you supported these efforts is testimony to the powerful role women play in philanthropy, and we are deeply grateful to each and every one of you.

Summing the Numbers

So what do all of these numbers mean?

Put simply, they mean that our students, our faculty, and our alumni and supporters are among the best in the world.

Introducing Dean Emeritus Charles Webb and Esther Kim

Speaking of the best in the world, it is now my pleasure to introduce Dean Emeritus of the IU Jacobs School of Music Charles Webb and Esther Kim, who is currently studying violin with Jaime Laredo.

Dr. Webb’s accolades are extensive, including being designated a “Living Legend” by the state of Indiana, and his long and dedicated service to Indiana University and the School of Music in particular deserves our deep gratitude. Miss Kim has also garnered a number of prestigious awards, including being named “Most Promising Musician” by the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Bronislaw Kaper Awards when she was twelve.

Dr. Webb and Miss Kim have travelled the country together performing benefit concerts, and we are most fortunate that they could join us this evening.

Would you please help me welcome Dean Emeritus Charles Webb and Miss Esther Kim?

[Musical performance]

Thank you for that magnificent performance, Charles and Esther.

Introducing Meryl Streep

Now it is my distinct pleasure to introduce one of the greatest actresses of this—and perhaps of any—generation.

By her own description, Meryl Streep’s first conscious attempt at acting took place in her living room when she was six. She donned her mother’s slip, swaddled her Betsy Wetsy doll, and focused intensely on playing the Virgin Mary.1

Since that early private performance, Ms. Streep has become a legend.

You have already heard about her record-setting accolades. You know about the high esteem in which she is held for her great talents on stage and screen. And all of you, no doubt, have a favorite Meryl Streep movie.

Part of the Fabric of our Culture

To say that Ms. Streep is part of the fabric of our culture is an understatement.

Her director in The River Wild, Curtis Hanson, said that she “is like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.”2

A number of years ago, the New York Times described the Meryl Streep Triathlon that was taking place: vying for audience’s attention was The Devil Wears Prada, A Prairie Home Companion, and the production of Mother Courage and her Children.3

Earlier this year, the Times commented on what they called “that unmistakable Streepness” upon the announcement of her 16th Oscar nomination for her role in Julie & Julia.4

And we must not forget her voicing Bart’s girlfriend in The Simpson’s, for which she gained a great deal of credibility with her children.5

In all of this, Ms. Streep demonstrates that rare quality that James Joyce once described. “The artist,” he said, “like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.”6

In this case, they are HER fingernails.

I am particularly pleased to be welcoming Ms. Streep to campus right now given the debut of the IU Cinema this week. For many years, this project has been one of my goals: to create a world-class facility here at IU that would display films at their cinematic best and thereby further strengthen our excellent and longstanding film studies program. An entire team helped achieve that goal, and many of you witnessed the results just last night at the screening of A Cry in the Dark, which Ms. Streep selected herself.

Efforts on Behalf of Women

Add to all of this Ms. Streep’s efforts on behalf of women.

Decades ago, she was one of the first women to integrate Dartmouth College, among 60 young women on a campus of around 6,000 men.7

She strongly supports the efforts of Equality Now, an organization that works to protect the human rights of women and girls worldwide.

She has pledged a million dollars to support the construction of the National Women’s History Museum in Washington, D.C. As she put it in remarks delivered a little over a month ago, “There is a Postal Museum, a Spy Museum, a Newseum, a Textile Museum, a Crime (and punishment) Museum, a Wax Museum, a National Bonsai Museum, and a building that is a Museum of . . . Buildings. . . .But there is no Women's History Museum in Washington.”8,9

All of these efforts are clearly indicative not only of her willingness to make a difference but her pledge to do so on behalf of women around the world.

Longstanding Connection to Indiana University

All of this you may already know, but you may not know of Ms. Streep’s longstanding connection to Indiana University.

Her husband, the renowned sculptor Donald Gummer, studied at the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis from 1964 through 1966, and they have been remarkably generous in supporting Herron over the years.

In 2009, Indiana University awarded Don an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, and we were pleased that both Don and Meryl could attend the ceremony in Indianapolis. In fact, just this past Thursday, Laurie and I were delighted to visit Don’s studio in New York.

And this fall Don and Meryl were were honored as members of the IU Foundation Presidents Circle.

We are extremely proud to call Don an alumnus of Indiana University and are delighted that Meryl could join us for this year’s Colloquium.

In honor of Ms. Streep’s presence here tonight, her great commitment to Indiana University, and her achievements as a performing artist of the highest caliber, I am pleased to announce we will be screening a Meryl Streep retrospective as part of the IU Cinema’s inaugural program next year.

Would you please help me welcome the incomparable Ms. Meryl Streep?

Source Notes

  1. Streep, Meryl.  Commencement Address.  Barnard College.  New York City, New York.  17 May 2010.  Barnard College Website <http://www.barnard.columbia.edu/commencement/rem_streep.html>.
  2. Weinraub, Bernard.  “Survival Lesson for ‘River’ Director.”  The New York Times.  5 Oct. 1994.  <www.nytimes.com>.
  3. Benzel, Jan.  “Last Call for Summer: Three Days before Real Life Returns; The Meryl Streep Triathlon.”  The New York Times.  1 Sept. 2006. <www.nytimes.com>.
  4. Scott, A.O.  “That Unmistakable Streepness.”  The New York Times.  18 Feb. 2010.  <www.nytimes.com>.
  5. Brozan, Nadine.  “Chronicle.”  The New York Times.  26 Sept. 1994.  <www.nytimes.com>.
  6. Joyce, James.  A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.  New York:  Huebsch, 1916.  <books.google.com>.  Page 44.
  7. Streep, Meryl.  Commencement Address.  University of New Hampshire.  Durham, New Hampshire.  24 May 2003. <http://www.unh.edu/news/news_releases/2003/may/lg_20030524commencement.html>.
  8. Collins, Gail.  “Unhold Us, Senators.”  The New York Times.  24 Sept. 2010.  <www.nytimes.com>.
  9. Streep, Meryl.  Remarks delivered at the National Women’s History Museum’s “Our Nation’s Daughters” Gala.  Washington, D.C.  21 Sept. 2010.  National Women’s History Museum Website. <http://www.nwhm.org/html/about/press/featured_press/MerylsSpeech.pdf>.