A Great History and a Brilliant Future: IU’s Distinguished and Titled Faculty

Alliance of Distinguished and Titled Professors
UPCC Ballroom
Indianapolis, Indiana
September 19, 2012


Thank you, John (Nurnberger). Laurie and I are delighted to be here this evening to celebrate the great strength of Indiana University’s most distinguished faculty. You are the very essence of excellence at Indiana University, and I am honored to be counted among your members.

I am delighted that three members of the IU Board of Trustees could be with us this evening.

Please help me welcome:

  • Trustee Phil Eskew and his wife Ann
  • Trustee Tom Reilly and his wife Bonnie
  • And our student Trustee, Cora Griffin.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank both John Nurnberger and Mike Grossberg for their leadership of the Alliance. Would you help me thank them both?

I am also very pleased to congratulate the newest members of the Alliance, and I look forward to their presentations later this evening.

A Great History of Outstanding Faculty at IU

The talents and energies of IU’s distinguished and titled professors have historically been at the core of Indiana University’s greatest achievements in education and research, and they continue to be so.

Over the years, Indiana University’s community of dedicated and outstanding scholars has included or been associated with eight Nobel Prize winners, five MacArthur Fellows, and 13 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Currently, IU is home to around 50 active and emeritus members of the major national scholarly academies—the National Academy of Science, the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

And gathered in this room this evening are some of the most distinguished scientists, scholars, artists, and teachers in the world as recognized by your peers.

An Environment for Achievement

The environment for excellence is richer than it has ever been. Across the university, we are welcoming more and better students than ever.

Just last month, I announced that IU faculty, staff, and students received $533 million in awards for external research and other sponsored programs in fiscal year 2012. This is a nine percent increase from 2011 and it represents the second-highest annual total in our history—and only the third time we have eclipsed $500 million in awards during a single year. Nearly half of our research funding came from federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. We also announced last month that IU received nearly $348 million in total voluntary support in fiscal year 2012, which ended on June 30th. This figure also represents the second highest total in the history of the university.

Each of these record numbers speaks—in different ways—to the outstanding caliber of IU’s finest teachers and researchers.

National and International Achievement from The Sub-atomic to The Galactic Scale

I could speak at great length about the achievements of this group and your fellow faculty members. At the risk of omitting much of the noteworthy work in which all of you are engaged, I do want to briefly mention two groundbreaking projects in which IU faculty are involved that have received recent major national and international attention.

First, IU physicists led by professors Harold Ogren and Harold Evans were responsible for the design and construction of a critical component of the equipment that led to the confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson particle. Of course, this discovery is a huge triumph in the world of physics. I also should note that IU also partners with the University of Chicago to manage the Midwest Tier2 computing center, which is one of only a handful of such centers that meets the high-speed data needs of the researchers working on the Higgs boson.

The second project I want to mention involves a member of this Alliance. David Bish, holder of the Haydn Murray Chair for Applied Clay Mineralogy, along with his colleagues at NASA and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, helped to design the CheMin device, a powder x-ray diffraction instrument that is currently on board NASA’s Curiosity rover. Professor Bish will also help lead the work to identify the minerals present in Martian rocks and soil.

While these recent achievements have gained worldwide attention, they are just the latest examples of the enormous value of the research being done by IU faculty and of the extraordinary contributions you continue to make in understanding the world in which we live.

Transforming The Academic Core

You’ll be pleased to know that we continue to find ways to strengthen and enhance the academic core of the university.

As you may know, on Friday, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education gave final approval for our plan to transform the highly-regarded Center on Philanthropy here on the IUPUI campus into a degree-granting school. We believe it will be the first of its kind in the world.

Next week, we will celebrate the formation of a new School of Public Health here on the IUPUI campus and a separate School of Public Health on the Bloomington campus.

Last month, the Trustees unanimously approved a plan to establish a new School of Global and International Studies in Bloomington. IU, of course, has extraordinary resources and strengths in global and international studies. This new school will bring those resources together and position IU at the forefront of institutions investigating, analyzing, and exploring global forces and developments.

All of these changes will enhance the quality of an Indiana University education. They will help to sustain and strengthen the intellectual atmosphere that will enable us to retain excellent faculty while continuing to attract the next generation of new stars.

Conclusion: Past and Present Intellectual Leadership

Just last week, Laurie and I hosted the annual Academic Excellence Dinner, which honors all IU faculty, past and present, who are members of major national academies, who are Pulitzer Prize winners, or Nobel Laureates. This year, we honored a record ten new inductees into the American Association for the Advancement of Science and three faculty members who were selected as fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

That evening, we also paid tribute to two members of the Alliance: Distinguished Professors Emeriti Angela McBride and Virginia Zeani. I had the honor of awarding both the President’s Medal of Excellence for their long and distinguished careers.

These scholars represent the very best of Indiana University. They represent the long and rich history of this university and point to the brilliant future of excellence towards which we continue to direct ourselves with the greatest energy and determination.

You are also a part of that great history and that future.

The scientists, scholars, and artists in this room have shaped their disciplines over the course of many decades and will continue to shape those disciplines in the coming years.

I look forward to our shared future as—together—we usher in a new era of excellence in teaching, research, and creative activity at Indiana University.

Thank you very much.