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McRobbie: Extensive academic transformation

  • Oct. 7, 2015

Editor's note: This story from The Bloomington Herald-Times is being published here as a courtesy for readers of IU in the News.

By Kat Carlton

Indiana University’s recently approved and “long overdue” engineering program is one example of the school’s commitment ensuring student success, according to IU President Michael McRobbie Tuesday in his annual State of the University address.

“Over the last eight years,” said McRobbie, “Indiana University has undergone its most extensive academic transformation since the Bryan era.” William Bryan was IU president from 1902 to 1937.

In addition to the new engineering program, the president said, eight schools have been established or reconfigured.

McRobbie outlined the school’s progress with the Bicentennial Strategic Plan approved by the IU Board of Trustees last year. The plan lays out goals the university hopes to accomplish by its bicentennial in 2020. Its vision includes three broad tenets:

• Providing an excellent, relevant and responsive education across a wide range of disciplines in baccalaureate, graduate and professional education to students from all backgrounds from Indiana and around the globe;

• Pursuing excellent world-class research, scholarship and creative activity; and

• Engaging in the economic, social, civic and cultural development of Indiana, the nation and the world by building on excellence in research and education.

Highlights of the speech:

College affordability

According to McRobbie, institutional financial aid has tripled for undergraduate students over the past eight years, and the average net cost of attendance at IU Bloomington is the lowest among the 13 Big Ten public universities.

“All of this is helping to increase graduation rates and decrease the time to degree completion.”

McRobbie noted IU’s MoneySmarts initiative, which has programs aimed at teaching students about financial decisions. He said this has helped students lower their borrowing more than 16 percent over three years.

Advising

McRobbie said in recent years, his goal has been to strengthen career advising by building career awareness information into the student experience from the beginning of each individual’s time on campus.

He noted Conrad Prebys, an alumnus of the Kelley School of Business, recently pledged $20 million to the university, part of which will be used to fund a new career services center for undergraduate business students.

Student welfare, culture

A new policy on sexual misconduct adopted this spring is one effort McRobbie said the school has taken to ensure the welfare of students in regard to sexual harassment, sex- and gender-based discrimination, rape, sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, sexual exploitation and stalking.

McRobbie said fostering a shared culture of respect on campus will help provide a safe living and learning environment for students, which is why he created the Student Welfare Executive Council last year.

Diversity

Record university-wide minority enrollment numbers this fall have been recorded.

“Still, the university must do more to attract talented minority students to all of our campuses.”

A map of the Bloomington campuses diversity initiatives is due to come out next month, thanks to efforts from the school’s Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs. The office hired a consulting group earlier this year to complete the mapping project.

Research

In fiscal year 2015, IU researchers received $541 million in external research funding, or the largest total of its kind brought in by any public research university in the state during that year. The school also had its most successful year in patent production. In the past fiscal year, IU had 183 national and global patents issued — more than any research institution in Indiana.

McRobbie also noted the school’s Grand Challenges program, “the most ambitious research program in Indiana University’s history.”

That program, he said, seeks to drive large projects that address some of the world’s problems.

International engagement

McRobbie said increasing study abroad opportunities is one goal related to international engagement. He also said IU’s international student population “makes a key contribution to internationalizing IU by contributing to diversity that enriches everyone’s education experience.”

Other priorities for the school, according to McRobbie, include fostering excellence in the health sciences and fundraising for the school’s $2.5 billion bicentennial campaign, run by the IU Foundation. So far, the campaign has raised nearly $1.2 billion from more than 200,000 donors.

The president also held a moment of silence in memory of Yaolin Wang and Joseph Smedley, former students who died in unrelated incidents last week.

A full transcript of the president’s speech can be found at president.iu.edu/speeches/state-of-university.