Mini University: Building a Community of Scholars

IU Mini University Welcome
Alumni Hall
Indiana Memorial Union
IU Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana
June 20, 2011

Introduction and Welcome

Thank you, Jeanne.

It is a pleasure to be here this morning to welcome you, on behalf of Indiana University, to the fortieth annual Mini University.

I would like to offer my personal thanks to Jeanne Madison, of Bloomington Continuing Studies, and to Nicki Bland of the IU Alumni Association for all of their efforts in putting together this award-winning and extremely popular program. Would you help me thank them for helping Mini University reach its fortieth anniversary?

Mini University was founded in 1972 with co-directors Frank Jones, the IUAA Executive Secretary, and Jim Hertling, an early director of Bloomington Continuing Studies. Frank’s daughter Sally Jones is participating in Mini University this year, and I believe Jim is also with us this morning. Would you please help me welcome them and thank Jim for the important role he played in helping establish this program and making it such a success? 

Almost four years ago to the day, I had the great pleasure of speaking at the Mini University convocation and announcing that for the first time in Mini University history, this wonderful event drew so many participants that organizers had to close registration.

It gives me even more pleasure to tell you that, for the fifth year in a row, Mini University has once again reached maximum capacity.

Your enthusiastic interest in Mini University and its outstanding programs is matched by Indiana University’s deep commitment to lifelong learning, a commitment shared by the outstanding faculty who eagerly agree to teach Mini University courses.

This program has been recognized as the best collaborative program by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Awards and is consistently ranked among America’s very best learning vacations by Frommer’s Magazine.

We are delighted that you all have come from across the country—from 26 different states, in fact—to enjoy this year’s courses and related events.1

Education as a Lifelong Project

As you no doubt will notice during your time at IU, we have a host of visitors touring campus. In fact, over 25,000 freshmen, transfer students, and their families will be visiting IU over the course of the summer as part of our extensive Orientation Programs.

Many of these students are just starting their college careers at IU. They will be learning in the coming years what you have come to know so well.

Education is a lifelong project.

It requires persistence and passion, commitment and curiosity.

And it returns beyond measure all that you invest.

You all know about the power of continuing that investment over time. Over 70 percent of you are returning Mini University students. In fact, some of you have been returning to IU every summer for well over twenty years. This is remarkable testimony to the power of education and the strength of your commitment.

Fueling Our Desire to Learn

And there are many reasons that have brought you all from as far away as California, Washington state, and Florida. In this ever-flattening world where technology virtually erases the difference between Bloomington and Bangalore, education allows us to meet the challenges of the global future.

As we blog, surf, or google, we must remain informed about technical changes.

But lifelong learning is not just about technology nor is it about retooling skills to climb career ladders. It is about savoring and strengthening intellectual traditions. It is about discovering and exploring new worlds. It is about building a community.

Dedicated Faculty

Here at IU, the core of that community is dedicated to the fundamental missions of education and research. Over one hundred faculty experts have committed themselves to your success during this week of intense and rewarding study. 

This distinguished group includes twenty-one members of the Alliance of Distinguished and Titled Professors, four deans, and one of this state’s and nation’s most prominent and well-respected statesmen, the Honorable Lee Hamilton.

I am delighted that for the first year, my wife Laurie will be among Mini University faculty.

Whether your instructor is renowned pianist Alexander Kerr, Distinguished Professor and C. Ben Dutton Professor of Law Fred Cate, or any other number of our outstanding faculty members, you will be reaching toward the distant horizon of knowledge in the arts, humanities, business, law, religion, and many other areas.

Conclusion: The Life of the University

The life of Indiana University is in its people.

In our search for new knowledge, new directions, and new opportunities, faculty, students, and staff alike weave a complicated and diverse tapestry that suggests a world of learning too vast to fully describe.

I hope this week—the fortieth anniversary session of IU’s Mini University—offers you countless productive and meaningful opportunities to explore this world.

And I hope that you will return next year and years after to help us celebrate future educational milestones,

Thank you and have a great week.

Source Notes

  1. Seliger, Susan.  “Nine Best Learning Vacations in America.”  Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel (February 2002).  FindArticles. 2007. Indiana University.  17 June 2007.  <>.