IU's president and first lady pledge $1 million to fund endowed professor positions

  • Sept. 29, 2015


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie and his wife, Laurie Burns McRobbie, have pledged $1 million to endow two professorships on the IU Bloomington campus.

The gift was announced to a group of donors and supporters Sept. 26 at a launch event for the public phase of IU’s $2.5 billion fundraising campaign, called For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign. Their gift will endow a professorship in computer engineering in IU Bloomington's new Department of Intelligent Systems Engineering in the School of Informatics and Computing, as well as a professorship in global strategic studies in the School of Global and International Studies.

“President and First Lady McRobbie have both stepped up repeatedly to go the extra mile for the greater good of Indiana University,” said Daniel Smith, president and chief executive officer of the IU Foundation. “While they have long been exceptionally generous in their philanthropic support of the university, with their most recent commitment of support they once again go above and beyond the call of duty in leading by example.

“Together, Michael and Laurie are a wonderful leadership team and inspire all of us to expand our vision of what is possible and to reach further in helping IU make an even greater impact on the world,” Smith added.

This latest gift also reflects the McRobbies’ personal and professional interests. President McRobbie, a computer scientist by academic background, came to IU in 1997 as the university’s first vice president for information technology before becoming president in 2007. As president, McRobbie, a native of Australia, commissioned the creation of IU’s first international strategic plan that has resulted in targeted and ambitious engagement on the part of the university in more than 30 countries around the world.

Laurie Burns McRobbie was a technologist in higher education for more than 25 years, working at the University of Michigan and with Internet2, a leading technology consortium for research and education in the United States and internationally. She holds an adjunct faculty position in the School of Informatics and Computing, where she advocates for increasing the number of women in technology. As IU’s first lady, she has championed philanthropy, especially among women. She founded the Women’s Philanthropy program at the IU Foundation and serves as honorary chair of its Leadership Council.

“The Intelligent Systems Engineering Department within the School of Informatics and Computing and the School of Global and International Studies are vitally important components of the broad academic transformation currently underway on the Bloomington campus, and Laurie and I are extremely pleased to be able support the development of these programs by helping IU attract world-class faculty to the campus,” President McRobbie said.

The deans of both schools expressed their appreciation for the gift, which they said will have a major impact on strengthening their respective faculties.

“Starting an intelligent systems engineering department at IU Bloomington is a very exciting development for the campus and community, and our first task is to recruit outstanding faculty," said Bobby Schnabel, dean of the School of Informatics and Computing. "The endowed professorship generously provided by President and First Lady McRobbie will be incredibly helpful in attracting world-class faculty to this new program. The McRobbies are champions of the importance of attracting leading women into STEM fields, and this will be an important value in the search for this professorship.”

“It is fitting that the president and the first lady, who have done so much to promote Indiana’s outreach to the world, would support a professorship in global strategic studies,” said Lee Feinstein, founding dean of the School of Global and International Studies. “They have been on the cutting edge of global education, and this gift will allow SGIS to consolidate its position as one of America’s leaders in global education.”

The McRobbies have made annual gifts to IU since 1997 and are members of IU Foundation’s Presidents Circle, which recognizes the university’s most generous donors. Their past gifts have established and contributed to several endowed scholarships, fellowships and awards in a number of programs including history and medieval studies, mathematics, the Jacobs School of Music and pediatrics in the IU School of Medicine.

They have also supported the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the School of Informatics and Computing, radio and television, the IU Art Museum, Lilly Library, Herron School of Art, IU East, IU Kokomo, IU Athletics, IU Libraries, IU Cinema and the IU Student Foundation.

For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign is taking place on all IU-administered campuses including IU Bloomington, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, IU East, IU Kokomo, IU Northwest, IU South Bend and IU Southeast. The campaign will conclude in December 2019 to coincide with IU’s bicentennial year celebration in 2020.

To learn more about the campaign, its impact, and how to participate, please visit

Laurie Burns McRobbie, left, and Michael A. McRobbie

Laurie Burns McRobbie, left, and Michael A. McRobbie

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For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign logo

For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign

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