President McRobbie unveils digital preservation initiative, comprehensive strategic planning process

  • Oct. 1, 2013


EDITORS: Select, broadcast-quality video highlights from the State of the University address will be available for media to view and download online this afternoon. Additionally, an archived broadcast of the address will be viewable at More information is available on the State of the University page

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie has unveiled a comprehensive $15 million Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative aimed at preserving and making accessible in digital form the unique and invaluable collections of video, recorded music and other irreplaceable material assembled by the university over its nearly 200-year history as part of an overall digitization master plan.

Delivering his annual State of the University address to an audience of faculty and staff gathered on the Bloomington campus, McRobbie also announced the launch of a broad-based IU Strategic Plan for the Bicentenary, a campus-based process that will position the university to enter its third century with clear goals and strategies for achieving them. IU will celebrate its bicentenary during the 2019-20 academic year.

“IU’s bicentenary year is less than seven years away,” McRobbie said. “As such I believe it provides us with a remarkable opportunity to begin now to further trim our sails to the winds of change and launch an extensive and comprehensive range of initiatives right across the whole university that will culminate in the bicentenary year so that in that year we can all rightly look back on the previous decade as one of the greatest, most productive and most transformative in IU’s history.”

In his address, the IU president also shared highlights from the previous year and detailed a number of recent efforts that are ensuring an affordable, quality education, including the new “Finish in Four” program, which guarantees no tuition increases for juniors and seniors who finish their degrees on time. McRobbie said that tuition increases at IU for this biennium are the lowest in almost half a century, with the undergraduate resident tuition increase at 1.75 percent.

McRobbie also called for a new university-wide effort to explore opportunities for combined liberal arts/professional courses of study that would provide students with traditional analytical, learning and communications skills along with specific kinds of skills offered through a professional school.

As a critical part of that work, the university will expand upon the driving principles of IU Bloomington’s acclaimed Liberal Arts and Management Program, which combines a liberal arts degree from the College of Arts and Sciences with a certificate in business offered in conjunction with the Kelley School of Business. LAMP graduates have proven popular with employers recruiting on the IU Bloomington campus, and McRobbie urged the creation of similar cross-disciplinary programs involving all of the university’s professional schools over the next several years.

“We must be vigilant, and indeed aggressive, in ensuring that such measures not become an excuse to abandon the lifetime skills of critical thought, evaluation and communication that are the core of a liberal education,” McRobbie said. “This is a matter of principle, but the popular rhetoric of today is simply wrong on the facts: What surveys show, and what academic leaders hear every day, is that employers are looking for individuals with analytical, learning and communication skills that will last a lifetime of changing job requirements and careers -- and not just training for the next job.”

Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative

McRobbie said the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative will combine efforts and funding from the Office of the President and the offices of IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel and Vice President for Research Jorge Jose.

He placed it within the context of the ancient mission of the world's great universities to not only create and disseminate knowledge but to preserve knowledge. With the dawn of the digital age and the development of the Internet, he said, knowledge ranging from works of art and literature to vast collections of scientific data can be made immediately available to scholars, students and the public.

But some of the most valuable knowledge that Indiana University possesses is in the form of time-based media objects: sound and video recordings and films that contain material from a wide range of areas in the humanities, arts and social sciences. Nearly all of this material is difficult to access, and much of it is at risk of deterioration, having been created and preserved in formats that are now obsolete.

"The goal of MPDI is extremely ambitious," McRobbie said. "It is, in short, to digitize, preserve and make universally available by IU’s Bicentenary -- subject to copyright or other legal restrictions -- all of the time-based media objects on all campuses of IU judged important by experts."

McRobbie directed Vice President for Information Technology Brad Wheeler, Vice President for Research Jose and University Dean of Libraries Brenda Johnson to work with faculty and other administrators to develop an IU Digitization Master Plan to support research, education and the preservation of knowledge. The digitization plan will be part of the university strategic plan.

IU Strategic Plan for the Bicentenary

McRobbie said creation of the strategic plan for the university will be guided by the Indiana University Principles of Excellence, a broad set of aspirations that have been instrumental in recent planning initiatives such as the Blueprint for Student Attainment and the New Academic Directions charter.

He directed leaders of IU Bloomington, IUPUI and the regional campuses to develop strategic plans for the next five academic years commencing in 2014-15.

“These plans will be developed in the context of the Principles of Excellence and will address all of these,” McRobbie said. “These plans will also build on and use other previous and current campus, unit-specific or university-wide strategic planning efforts. All of these planning efforts are well underway. They are inclusive and involve their broad communities.”

The campus plans will be integrated into the IU Strategic Plan for the Bicentenary, which McRobbie will present to the IU Board of Trustees in summer 2014. John Applegate, executive vice president for university academic affairs, and his office will take responsibility for preparing the final document, which will provide goals for the university to accomplish by 2020, the year of its 200th anniversary.

Value and affordability

At the start of his address, McRobbie emphasized that the university would continue to ensure the value and affordability of an IU education, noting the success of several recent efforts and initiatives, including:

  • Tuition increases for this biennium that are the lowest in almost half a century, with the undergraduate resident tuition increase at 1.75 percent.
  • The “Finish in Four” program, which guarantees no tuition increases for juniors and seniors who finish their degrees on time, and the Summer Tuition program, which provides a 25 percent tuition discount to students taking courses over the summer sessions.
  • A total increase in undergraduate and graduate financial aid since 2007 of 83 percent, increasing from $139 million to $255 million.
  • A complete and continuing overhaul of career and academic advising.
  • Programs for all students in financial literacy aimed at helping ensure lower student debt and better debt management.
  • A comprehensive review of the costs of all university administrative services, with a focus on consolidation and scale, with cumulative cost containment, efficiencies and avoidance totaling nearly $400 million.
  • A comprehensive academic restructuring, the most comprehensive in IU’s history, leading to the establishment, merger, transformation or closure of seven schools with new education and research programs in international studies, informatics and computing, public health and philanthropy.
  • The establishment of IU Online to coordinate and manage IU’s online initiatives. IU now has more than 100 online programs and more than 1,000 online courses. By 2015, all schools will offer fully online graduate certificates or degrees.
  • Completion of fundraising campaigns for IU Bloomington and IUPUI totaling over $2.5 billion.

The full text of McRobbie's address is available online. To view an archived broadcast of the State of the University, go to

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IU President Michael A. McRobbie

IU President Michael A. McRobbie delivers the 2013 State of the University address.

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