Transforming Indiana University for the 21st Century

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State of the University
Campus Center Theatre
Indianapolis, Indiana
October 9, 2012


Thank you, Jack, and thank you all for joining us this afternoon.

I am pleased to be here to present to my fellow faculty members and colleagues, and the broader University community, some remarks on the state of the university.

I want to begin by spending a few moments describing the external environment in which we find ourselves today. 

American higher education, from its inception, has responded to the changing needs and criticisms of a sometimes-skeptical public. The creation of institutions of higher learning in the fledgling colonies before basic levels of schooling, law, and government were established was not without contention. The rise of the great modern universities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries met waves of resistance against the changing backdrops of World War I and the Great Depression. Periods of great growth, such as the post-World War II era, have been balanced by periods of stasis and even contraction. These points of contention have driven us forward as a national system of higher education and they have defined and re-defined our core missions and our ever-changing role in society.

And so, in many ways, we find ourselves in familiar, contentious, territory in American higher education—but for most of us who have been beneficiaries of the post-World War II supremacy of American higher education and its almost universal acclaim, this is unfamiliar territory. In recent years, we have been faced with sustained and powerful criticisms of: our quality, our costs, and our relevance. And these questions strike at the very heart of our enterprise—our teaching and research mission. 

These questions are leveled from an increasingly diverse array of critics. Both presidential candidates on the campaign trail this year have been asking serious questions about college costs and student debt, and each has specific policy reforms in mind. Employers are asking serious questions about the added value of a traditional college degree in the face of cheaper alternatives. I am sure you all are familiar with the recent publicity given to CEOs who are paying promising young students not to attend college as part of the newfound “anti-college movement.”

According to a recent report by the Pew Research Center, 94 percent of parents expect their child to go to college, 57 percent of Americans say colleges fail to provide students with good value for money spent, and 75 percent of the public believes college is too expensive for most Americans to afford.1 For-profit companies are using online education as a means to question the necessity and value of traditional pedagogy and the physical campus. These are not partisan attacks—they are fundamental questions about who we are, what we do, and what we are worth to society.

Formal studies and responses from the National Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Science Board, just in the last few months, demonstrate that these are not just intellectual exercises but critical attacks on the nature of our business, and the business model itself. 

While extreme viewpoints almost always lack the complexity and accuracy needed to bring thoughtful reflection to these critical issues, they are dominating the media and influencing public perceptions about higher education. We simply must do more to respond to these questions. We must reaffirm the core values of higher education and make the necessary changes needed to rebuild the public’s confidence in our work. 

At Indiana University, we continue to embrace the enduring value of a rigorous college education while at the same time recognizing the strains of validity in many of these criticisms. Indeed, we share many of the concerns with our critics—and have been asking sincere, deep questions about our underlying organizational and academic assumptions. 

This work has been and is being pursued aggressively by the entire institution—Trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni and our external partners—and these have not been easy or comfortable conversations. But, as has been the resilient history of American higher education for almost 400 years, we are confident that we will emerge from these discussions better equipped to meet the changing needs of an increasingly global society.

I would like to review some of the specific actions we have taken as a result of these critical reflections and will also announce several new initiatives that seek to sustain the primacy of teaching and research at Indiana University.

Reducing Costs Through Operational Efficiency

I will start by addressing the criticisms of our costs.

I have spoken in other forums about IU’s commitment to greater efficiency. While often viewed with skepticism within the academy, the unavoidable fact that we all have to come to terms with is that without making a serious commitment to becoming more efficient, we cannot add significant resources to the research and educational missions of the university since every one of our five major sources of revenue is under pressure or threat.

  • Major increases in tuition are out of the question: the market and public will no longer bear them.
  • The state of Indiana is slowly recovering from the Great Recession with unemployment still high and revenues and average wages below pre-recession levels. Hence, we have to expect essentially flat funding from the state in the near future.
  • Research funding is becoming more scarce and more competitive in spite of the near record $533 million obtained last year in external research funding. Political change or the threatened sequestration in Washington could mean the devastation of funding from the NSF, NIH, NEH and other key federal funding institutions.
  • A decline in reimbursement rates for medical services provided by IU Health endangers the support it provides for the IU clinical enterprise.
  • In philanthropy, IU is the beneficiary of extraordinarily generous alumni and friends—generosity that has made many of our gains possible. In fact, during the last fiscal year, IU received nearly $348 million in total voluntary support—the second highest total in the university’s history. But even under the past and present superb leadership, philanthropy can only do so much.

We simply must be more efficient as an institution. At the largest scale, we clearly have done so. We are educating more Hoosiers than ever before. Since 2006, we have added 12,000 more students at Indiana University. In effect, this is tantamount to adding a campus the size of Indiana State University—with reduced state funding, with no additional classroom buildings being constructed, and with reduced staff numbers.

In individual administrative areas, we have benchmarked other institutions and are taking aggressive steps to achieve the greatest possible efficiencies. Lest there be any confusion on this point, these efforts are of great importance to our Board of Trustees, and they have my full support. And we are exploring opportunities to put our assets to work with creative, financially sound private-public partnerships that will permit us to use our capital assets to generate current funds. Given the pressure that all our sources of revenue are under as I have just described, we can expect that many new initiatives will only be able to be funded this way. In fact this is exactly how we will be funding a major new academic building and major new piece of research infrastructure that I will describe later in this speech.

Keeping an IU Education Affordable

Over many years, Indiana University has been able to keep tuition increases well below those of similar high quality institutions. 

The 2013 edition of the “Fiske Guide to Colleges,” one of the country’s leading college guides, for example named IU Bloomington a “best buy” school. IU Bloomington was one of only 20 public universities in the U.S. and Canada to receive the “best buy” designation.

The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics recently began to publish data that calculates the net cost to students attending all public institutions. Their most recent data shows that IU, state, and federal student financial aid programs reduce the net cost of attending IU to about half of the “sticker price” of tuition, room and board, books, and miscellaneous expenses.  The data also shows that the net cost for the Bloomington campus is the lowest of all Big Ten institutions—and that IU East has the lowest net cost of any public campus in Indiana.

However, despite these efforts and this great record, we are mindful of the deep continuing public concern over the growing “sticker price” for tuition. I want to make it clear that we have heard and share the public’s concerns over college affordability. We understand that cost matters to our students and their families I want to emphasize that as we develop our budget for the coming biennium, we will be considering all options that will allow me to recommend to our Trustees the lowest possible tuition increases over the next two years to ensure the continuing affordability of an IU education.

It is important to remember that tuition setting is, by law, a responsibility of our Board of Trustees—a responsibility they take extremely seriously. In doing this they will take into consideration a variety of factors, including the financial needs of the institution, opportunities for efficiencies and savings, the amount of funding provided by the state and potential other sources of revenue that might be available to us over the next two years.  

Summer Tuition Discount

As well as striving to keep tuition increases low, we continue to search for additional ways to keep an Indiana University education affordable. This year we introduced a 25 percent tuition discount for undergraduate summer semester classes on all of our campuses to provide immediate financial relief to IU students and their families, reduce student debt, encourage students to complete their degrees on time, and make maximum use of the physical facilities underutilized during the summer months.

The result was that more students took courses at our campuses across the state this summer than a year ago, with a combined savings to those students of $11.8 million.

IU East and IU Kokomo experienced the largest increases in summer enrollment, with gains of 14.7 percent and 11.3 percent, respectively.

Overall, in our first summer, university-wide enrollment increased by an average of three percent—not where we hope to be eventually, but a reasonable beginning. It seems a lack of federal and state financial aid over summer was a primary factor that limited the increase in the number of students able to take advantage of this program. We hope the Indiana Commission for Higher Education will support this initiative by making financial aid available over the summer in future. We also need faculty members and department chairs to develop high-demand, predictable course offerings for the summer schedule which will allow students to truly see the summer session as part of their degree completion plan.

We will again offer this discount next summer and expect the number of students enrolled to increase as more become aware of the opportunity for savings. This initiative will play an important role in the eventual conversion of the summer semester at IU into one that more closely resembles the fall and spring semesters. 

New On-Time Graduation Award

The summer tuition discount initiative, and a number of previous initiatives, help address another growing public concern about a university education—the amount of time that many students are taking to graduate. Though graduation rates at IU Bloomington ranks among the best in the state and above the national average,2 all of our campuses have room for improvement. This issue is a particular concern on our regional campuses, though the significant differences in the student populations on those campuses need to be taken into account. The equation is simple—the longer it takes students to graduate, the more it costs them or their families. Keeping an IU education affordable must include efforts and initiatives to improve graduation rates.

Therefore, I am very pleased to announce a new financial award to encourage and improve on-time graduation effective in the upcoming academic year that will provide financial certainty for many of our students and their families.

Under this initiative, students who have completed four semesters in good academic standing and who are on-track to graduate in four years will receive an award that off-sets any increase in tuition and fees that occurs in their junior and senior years. If they do not graduate within four years, then they will pay the current campus tuition and fee rates in subsequent semesters. 

Stated another way, we will, in effect, “freeze” tuition costs for all of our students after their sophomore year, provided they have completed a sufficient course load to allow them to graduate on-time.

This award makes two things clear: that Indiana University is serious about holding down the cost of an IU degree, and that we are equally serious about providing the incentives for our students to stay on course for completing their degrees on-time.

This new initiative will benefit students and their families in two ways: first, by graduating within four years, they reduce their costs, and second, by providing financial certainty and predictability as to their costs for their junior and senior years. These awards will be available to students who have achieved the relevant milestones at the end of the spring semester 2013. This initiative will be regarded as an experiment and we will assess its impact on four-year graduation rates during the 2015-2016 academic year and decide then whether to continue it or modify it in some way. More details of this new initiative will be shared with students in the coming weeks.

Let me note to that this new initiative strongly supports two major goals of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education—greater affordability and reducing time to graduation.

Addressing Student Debt

These initiatives will reduce the costs for students who graduate on time. In doing so they reduce the amount of debt that many students or their families have to take on to finance their IU education. But looked at more broadly, the size of student debt has reached alarming proportions nationally. The federal government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that student debt nationwide exceeds $1 trillion.

The specter of major debt hangs over more and more students and threatens their ability to establish themselves independently, productively and successfully in society. It is particularly of concern for students from low-income or minority backgrounds and threatens to make a university education almost unobtainable for them. And it is of increasing concern for the middle class.

As United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, said last year, “These financial pressures, including the burden of defaulting, are not just numbers on a notice or a bill. They have lasting implications in the lives of our young adults. And, left unchecked, they pose a grave challenge to the promise of equal opportunity in America.”3

Student debt can be reduced significantly through the provision of financial aid. Here the unprecedented increases in financial aid provided at IU over recent years have had a major impact. For example, more than half of the undergraduates at IU Bloomington have no student loan debt—and almost half graduate with no student loan debt—in part because of the financial aid provided there. We have more than doubled our institutional aid to students in the past five years—and this is not loan aid, this is grants and scholarships that do not need to be paid back. IU Bloomington also has one of the lowest default rates on student loans in the state and is well below the national average.

But there is still more to be done—and this has been an area of intense focus for us over the past year. In fact, IU is at the forefront in the state in pursuing initiatives to help students manage the debt they take on for college. We have established a new Office of Student Financial Literacy designed to help students understand the implications of student debt and how to manage and control it.

But we need to do more. I will be recommending to the faculty that we create a new, substantive class on the subject of financial literacy that would be taught as an online course by our world renowned Kelley School of Business and available for credit, tuition-free, for all IU students. This course would be required for all students who receive financial assistance in the form of loans.

The Value of a College Degree

Of course the reason that students and their families are sometimes prepared to assume significant debt is because they understand, rightly, that a degree and the education it involves is, in the overwhelming majority of cases, a path to better and more rewarding career opportunities.

However, I mentioned in my introduction the highly publicized awards for not going to college. Of course, a few individuals will be able to thrive without a college degree, and we should congratulate them on their success. But it is inaccurate—and, frankly, irresponsible—to suggest that this is the general rule. The facts are distinctly otherwise. The fact is that earning a college degree is more necessary than ever. Quality education leads to quality jobs and an educated and informed citizenry. Studies indicate that a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn an average of $1 million more over the course of a lifetime than a person who holds only a high school degree.4 The widely respected Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce recently reported that by 2018, 55 percent of Indiana’s jobs will require some postsecondary education. A recent report by Indiana University’s Public Policy Institute recommended that two-thirds of all Hoosiers must be prepared to succeed in knowledge economy jobs, and that only about one-third of Hoosiers currently meet this standard. Nationwide, the percentage of jobs that will require education beyond high school is even higher. The U.S. Census Bureau forecasts that 70 percent of the job openings that will occur over the next decade will require some postsecondary education. 

But are we educating students for the right jobs? The Labor Department reports that despite a national unemployment rate of around eight percent, three million job vacancies have remained unfilled. A recent ManpowerGroup survey found that 49 percent of employers in the U.S. are frustrated at not finding employees with the required skills.

As an educational institution, the state’s flagship, I submit we simply cannot ignore these figures. It would be frankly immoral to do so. We have to ask: are we doing all we can to ensure an IU education educates students for employment on graduation? Are we doing all we can to counsel students to find employment on graduation?

We have approached this issue a number of ways over recent years. Two years ago as part of the charge to the New Academic Directions Committee, I asked “is IU offering the kinds of degrees and educational opportunities that one would expect of a university that aspires to be one of the finest universities of the 21st century?”

And we asked as part of the charge to the New Directions in Teaching and Learning Committee, “have we identified the knowledge and skills that students need for a rewarding intellectual, economic, and community life, and how are we assuring ourselves that such knowledge and skills have been transmitted?”

I will comment later on some of the major recommendations these committees made, many of which have been implemented or are in the process of implementation. However, I want now to specifically focus on how we advise students in finishing their degrees on time and how we counsel them for employment on graduation.

New Approaches to Academic Advising

First, I am asking that all of our campuses take a fresh look at our student academic advising programs and with a goal of developing bold, new, innovative approaches and initiatives that are responsive to student needs and committed to establishing a roadmap for all students to attain their degrees on time and to pursue satisfying careers. This should be a comprehensive approach to student advising that starts with student orientation and follows each student through degree attainment. It should take into account the diverse needs and circumstances of each student, but also should establish specific goals and benchmarks for achieving a degree based on those circumstances. And given that faculty are, in many cases, the primary advisors of students, they need to be centrally involved in this assessment.

Special attention needs to be given, as well, to the academic advising needs of minority students and input should be obtained from the Hudson Holland Scholars program in this regard.

This proactive approach to student advising should not only have benchmarks of success along the way to getting a degree, but would also identify—at the earliest possible stages—students who are falling behind in their academic career. In such cases, our advising programs should have intervention plans for these students to determine the source of the problem and lay out a corrective path to getting a degree.

Thanks to productive university-wide initiatives, all campuses have available a new and increasingly robust IT system that provides early warning to students, faculty, and advisors when risks appear. Degree audit software and curricular roadmaps will soon follow.

New Approaches to Career Counseling and Career Development

Second, I am also requesting that all of our campuses make career counseling and development an important element of undergraduate education, and take a fresh look at how we support this.

Some undergraduate students—for example, those who begin in nursing or education—come to college with a clear idea of their future careers. Others find that they are passionate about a subject that does not directly lend itself to a clear career choice. Still others come to campus intent on exploring.

Each of these students requires specialized career awareness. For the student who knows his or her career, it is navigating a specific profession or field. For others, it is a matter of developing important intellectual and social skills, and learning how to deploy them—whether in searching for a job or applying for graduate and professional education. For other students, this may mean a second major in a subject with a defined professional trajectory, as recommended in the New Academic Directions report. For others, it could be a program like the celebrated Liberal Arts and Management Program in the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington. Or it could be a simple matter of access to good career counseling, including interest and aptitude inventories, at an early stage in one’s education.

Again, special attention needs to be given as well to the career advising needs of minority students and I ask Vice President Ed Marshall to ensure that his office is fully engaged in both of these studies.

The Kelley School of Business provides outstanding support for career counseling and development and can be very helpful as campuses seek to re-invigorate their efforts in this regard.

In both cases, I ask that all campuses report back to me by the end of this academic year describing the new initiatives they are or will be implementing. I also expect that these initiatives will be given priority in campus budget development.

Transforming Indiana University for The 21st Century

I have often asked the question of audiences at IU, if we were establishing a new university in Indiana with a budget like we have of $3 billion dollars, would it look exactly like IU does today, based as it is in many ways on a 19th century model of higher education? I have yet to find a person who claims that it would. Now, of course, conversely, there are a myriad of opinions as to what it would look like, and it was in the spirit of trying to distill these down to a coherent plan for institutional change towards a more contemporary vision of IU and its role in the state, nation, and world, that I announced the establishment of the New Academic Directions committee in my third State of the University Address in 2010.

This committee comprised some of the most distinguished and insightful faculty and academic administrators on the Bloomington and IUPUI campuses and they reported in March 2011. I accepted their report soon after and it was endorsed by the IU Trustees in April 2011. The committee examined many of the academic programs that are the heart of the university and they recommend ways to bring IU’s structure into the 21st century. This was, as I said at the time, one of the most important exercises of its kind ever carried out at Indiana University.

Since the completion of the New Academic Directions report, we have seen transformation of unprecedented scale and speed at IU. By the end of this year, we will expect to have seen seven schools transformed, established, merged or closed in less than 18 months. This is more change than in the previous 40 years at IU.

In what follows I want to briefly review and comment on all of these changes.

The School of Philanthropy

Being at IUPUI, I am delighted to start with the new School of Philanthropy. This campus, and its leaders over many decades, must be given great credit for their insight and perseverance in building up through the Center on Philanthropy, what evolved as a formidable presence in the academic study of philanthropy in all its diverse and multidisciplinary manifestations, eventually becoming recognized as the best of its kind in the world. 

The establishment of the new School of Philanthropy will greatly expand the education and opportunities for IU students who want to pursue careers in the huge and diverse philanthropic and not for profit sector which will become ever more important in the face of government retreat from funding more and more areas of education, social welfare, the arts, and healthcare. It will provide faculty with still greater opportunities for multidisciplinary collaborations in this rich and dynamic area with other IU schools and units.

I was particularly delighted to announce, just last week, that Gene Tempel, who served with distinction as president of the IU Foundation for the last four years, and with whom I worked so closely in this role, will lead the planning and organization of the new school and will serve as its founding dean, subject to the approval of the IU Trustees later this week.

IU Online

A challenge with which IU has wrestled for over a hundred years is how to “project” all it offers and all of its opportunities beyond the walls of its campuses to those who live far away or are unable to attend IU on a regular basis, but who want the rich benefits of an IU education and degree. 

For many years, this had traditionally been done by the School of Continuing Studies. But based on a recommendation from the New Academic Directions Committee, I announced the decision in May 2011 to close the school. 

At about the same time, though, I accepted a recommendation from a report conducted by School of Informatics Dean Bobby Schnabel about strategic directions for online education at Indiana University, and established a charter for a new, university-wide, Office of Online Education. I appointed Barbara Bichelmeyer, Associate Vice President of University Academic Planning and Policy, and Professor of Instructional Systems Technology, to serve as its founding director.

Drawing from a university-wide needs analysis and research on the changing landscape of online education conducted by Dr. Bichelmeyer over the past year, last month I announced a strategic investment of $8 million over the next three years to establish the IU Online initiative. This new initiative will accelerate the development and delivery of targeted quality graduate professional programs on the core campuses, joint undergraduate programs on the regional campuses, key gateway courses university-wide, experimental massive open online courses—so-called MOOCs—and educational badges, in order to address Indiana’s economic and professional development needs, and to extend the university’s national and international reach. It will also help with the systematic evaluation and development of new technologies that will underpin the new directions in online education, and coordinate how IU can benefit from economies of scale in deploying these technologies across the university.

IU Online, then, is how IU intends to “project” itself beyond the walls of the campuses, and equally importantly, the walls of the classroom in the 21st century. It recognizes that the distinction between “traditional” and “non-traditional” students is increasingly blurred and that it no longer makes sense to use different strategies to reach them. It recognizes that all the online courses and degrees must be owned by the schools and campuses as online education is becoming an increasingly fundamental and integral part of what they do.

However, as we vigorously move forward with IU Online, we must nevertheless also maintain a skeptical and questioning approach—as is appropriate for a university—to some of the wilder claims being made about online education. I am mindful of sage advice given by my colleague C. L. Max Nikias, president of the University of Southern California, another pioneer in online education, who recently wrote to his faculty:

“The Internet's first wave in the 1990s resulted in a dot-com bubble that was inflated by a fixation on the total number of users that a company's website could collect, rather than the true value that was created through a viable business model. Online education similarly lends itself to a focus on large numbers—yet there is scant evidence that free online classes or viral lectures produce worthy educational or career outcomes. [Our] academic community recognizes, at key inflection points within the development of higher education, that there is a difference between data and wisdom; between mere information and deep insight; and between knowledge disseminated and knowledge absorbed and appreciated. Our goal will always be to produce true academic value, for the fullest benefit of our students."5

Global and International Studies

In August, the Trustees unanimously approved a plan to establish a new School of Global and International Studies within the College of Arts and Sciences in Bloomington. As you know, there is hardly a part of American society, business, education, or government that is not affected by global forces and developments. Understanding the world around us, both past and present, and having an informed understanding of how it is most likely to evolve, is not a luxury—it is a necessity—a necessity for us as a university, as a state, and as a country. And this is why I called the establishment of this new school “one of the most important developments in the nearly 200 years of IU's history”.

IU, of course, has extraordinary resources and strengths in global and international studies, including:

  • more than 70 foreign languages taught, (more than any other university and  some languages that are not taught at any other university);
  • eleven federally-funded Title VI area studies centers (again, more than any other university);
  • a great breadth and depth of international research and scholarship (with more research faculty working on global and international issues than Georgetown and Columbia combined); and 
  • a high level and wide variety of international engagement.

By bringing together into one school the core of IU's extraordinary resources in global and international studies, the university stands poised to join the most outstanding programs in the world in these truly vital areas.  The new school will expand the opportunities for international education for all students, including greater foreign language proficiencies, better understanding of how societies are developing worldwide, and deeper knowledge of globalization.

A truly magnificent design has been developed for the Global and International Studies Building that will house the school. I am delighted to announce that funding has been secured for this building and we have begun the approval process that we expect will allow us to break ground for this building by the end of this academic year. This $53 million building will be funded without using any funding from the State of Indiana. Rather, it will be financed entirely through university sources. In fact, half of the funding will come from IU’s Big Ten Network revenues. This represents, by far, the largest commitment from athletics revenue to support the core academic mission of Indiana University that has ever been made, and we believe one of the largest ever in the nation.

Merger of Informatics and SLIS

Later this week, the Trustees will vote on a proposed merger of the School Library and Information Science and the School of Informatics that has been overwhelmingly supported by the faculty of these schools. Spurred by the rapid and increasing pace of evolution in the world of informatics, computing, and libraries, the connections between programs that study information and those that study computation have become closer and more important than ever. Indiana University’s School of Library and Information Science and the School of Informatics are high quality, highly ranked schools that combine longstanding traditions with more recent growth and evolution.

Combining these two schools will give the new school an expanded combination of breadth, size, and quality. In information technology as a broad academic discipline, these are all vital factors.  Our goal is to keep building a school that can compete with Carnegie Mellon University, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley and the other best schools in this area. The Informatics/SLIS merger is a big step forward for us as it aggregates the resources of two very well regarded schools into a larger more effective and competitive school.

The new school will create excellent opportunities for new initiatives that are being pursued immediately, including a new cutting-edge program in big data science, a university-wide institute in network science, strengthened collaborations and emphasis in health informatics, and the revitalization of IU’s leadership role in social informatics. And all of this brings with it the prospect of increased technology transfer and economic development in an area ripe with entrepreneurial opportunities.

Pending Trustee approval, we expect the merger to be formally effective by the beginning of the next academic year. 

New Schools of Public Health

Let me now move to public health. We are all familiar with Indiana’s abysmal performance by just about any of the major measures of public health—smoking, diabetes, obesity and cancer. These are not just statistics—they represent human and family tragedies and billions of dollars lost to the state’s economy.

Thoughtful and effective public health policies, trained public health professionals and targeted applied research can have a demonstrable effect on the health and quality of life of a populace. But, until recently, Indiana had no schools of public health to help formulate the policies, educate the professionals, or do the research of particular relevance to health promotion in Indiana. 

But just last month we were able to celebrate the establishment of two new schools of public health in Indiana—both at Indiana University.

At the end of September, we celebrated two milestones with the establishment of the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health on the IUPUI campus, and the School of Public Health at IU Bloomington. The Fairbanks School of Public Health is building on the strengths of the Department of Public Health, which was formerly part of the IU School of Medicine. We are deeply grateful to the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation for its extremely generous gift of $20 million in support of IU’s efforts to establish a School of Public Health on the IUPUI campus.

In Bloomington, the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation has been transformed into a separate school of public health.

Our goal is to have the schools fully accredited within two years. The new schools will be able to compete for federal and foundation funding that is open only to schools of public health, increasing the flow of funds to Indiana to support the health of all Hoosiers. And we expect that, between the two schools, they will be hiring well over 50 new faculty over the next five years.

Meeting Indiana’s Health Care Needs

The new schools of public health are only the most recent additions to the extensive collections of schools who train the professionals, do the research and provide clinical care in nearly every area of health care. These are the IU schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, optometry, social work, health and rehabilitation sciences, and physical education. These schools are the largest—sometimes the only—places in Indiana that train professionals in these areas, and a large percentage of the professions in these areas practicing in Indiana have been trained in these schools. 

Together with our close partner IU Health—the largest healthcare system in Indiana and one of the largest in the nation, we collectively have the most extensive impact in the state on the health and well-being of Hoosiers. In this regard, it was wonderful news for all citizens of the state when U.S. News & World Report recently announced that IU Health ranked as one of the top 16 health systems in the country—this magazine’s highest distinction, reserved for the top medical centers in the nation such as the Mayo Clinic and Mass General. Eleven IU Health clinical programs, staffed largely by physicians trained at the IU School of Medicine, also were named among the best in the nation by the magazine. 


The impact of Indiana University working together with IU Health and also our other clinical partners the Wishard, Larue Carter, and VA hospitals, can be enormous. The neurosciences, taken broadly, are one of IU’s greatest academic strengths across its Indianapolis and Bloomington campuses and an area of considerable collaboration between the campuses and with IU Health. They are also a great clinical strength of IU Health.

Here in Indianapolis, IU and IU Health are establishing a major new joint facility in the neurosciences. August saw two major milestones in progress towards establishment of our joint Neurosciences Center of Excellence with the dedication of Goodman Hall, which will house the IU Health clinical programs in the neurosciences, and the groundbreaking ceremony a few weeks earlier for the co-located IU Neurosciences Research Building, which will house many of the School of Medicine’s main neuroscience research programs.

This superb new joint facility will provide outpatient rehab facilities, an imaging center, and walk-in care facilities, as well as state-of-the-art facilities in which in which our researchers and clinicians will conduct a broad range of neuroscience research in fields such as neurotrauma, dementias, addiction, epilepsy and pain. Simply to name these fields is to explain their enormous importance to health and quality of life of people across this state, and indeed across the world.

It should be stressed, too, that this complex will house one of the largest concentrations of researchers and clinicians in the neurosciences in the United States.

Supercomputers: Expanding The Frontiers of Knowledge

The neurosciences of course study the brain in all its enormously complexity. It is the most complex biological object we know. And its mysteries are, in turn, probed through modeling and simulation by among the most complex of human made objects, supercomputers. The supercomputer has become an essential tool in the neurosciences as it has now throughout the life sciences in areas as diverse as computational genomics, molecular modeling, drug design, bioinformatics, and pandemic modeling.

And this is just the life sciences. There is hardly an area of the physical sciences or of engineering where supercomputers have not had an impact. They are used to probe the fundamental limits of the universe—from the very small, such as in the search for the Higgs boson and beyond—and at the largest scale, as in understanding the creation of the universe, dark matter, and dark energy. They are used to design planes and cars, and model climate change. And their effect is being felt now, too, in the social sciences and in the humanities. IU has researchers who use supercomputers in nearly all these fields.

IU has been among the nation’s leaders in supercomputing for many years. But IU’s present supercomputer—Big Red—is now six-and-a-half years old, and obsolete. But the demand for access to true supercomputing capabilities continues to grow.

So today, I am delighted to announce that Indiana University will be acquiring from Cray Incorporated what will be one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world and the first at any university in the United States capable of calculations at the rate of one petaflops—that is, a thousand trillion mathematical operations per second. This new supercomputer—Big Red II—will be a thousand times faster than IU’s first supercomputer acquired in 2001. It will be funded with external income and sources.

Big Red II will accelerate discovery and allow new research by hundreds of IU scientists and scholars right across the university including in medicine, biology, physics, chemistry, astronomy, network science, sustainability science, global climate research, public health, and, of course, informatics and computer science. It will also play a major role in the recruitment and retention of outstanding new faculty in these and other areas. In medicine and informatics alone, around 100 new faculty can be expected to be hired over the next five years who will make use of Big Red II and its huge data processing capabilities.

The Big Red II supercomputer will ensure that IU stays at the forefront of the use of high-speed and data-intensive computation in some of the most vital and complex research in the world. It will enable IU researchers to obtain extensive funding for their research that they would not otherwise have been able to get, and it will enable them to continue to stay at the leading edge of their disciplines.


These are just a few of the measures we have taken over the past year—or will take in the coming months—that demonstrate our commitment to enhancing the university’s academic mission while addressing issues that are of central importance to our students, their families, and to others with a vital stake in Indiana University.

Nearly 200 years ago, Indiana University was founded in response to the changing needs and aspirations of the public as the United States expanded to the frontier. Since that time, Indiana University has maintained a strong tradition of responding to the changing needs and opportunities of American society as we pursue our educational mission, our research mission, and our public service mission.

As a public university, we continue to respond to the changing needs of society by addressing the legitimate concerns that we share with the public on issues of affordability, student debt, and on-time degree attainment; by transforming the academic core of our institution; and by ensuring that our faculty have access the most advanced tools and facilities to support their research and scholarship.

As a leading public institution in the 21st century, we recognize that we have a special obligation to do our part to address important public concerns and, as you have heard today, we are deeply committed to doing so. The endeavors in which all of you are engaged help us to continue to demonstrate that the work of Indiana University is of the highest quality and that our undertakings have never been more relevant or important to society.

Thank you very much.

Source Notes

  1. “Is College Worth It?” Pew Research Center
  3. Arne Duncan, “Beyond the Iron Triangle: Containing the Cost of College and Student Debt,” Remarks delivered to the Federal Student Aid Conference, Las, Vegas, Nevada, November 29, 2011. URL:, Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  4. Anthony P. Carnevale, Stephen J. Rose, and Ban Cheah, “The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings,” The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, 2009.
  5. C.L. Max Mikias, “Online Education—Hype and Reality,” memorandum to the USC community, August 27, 2012. URL:  Retrieved October 5, 2012.