McRobbie's priorities include dean search, new design school

  • Oct. 15, 2014

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 MJ Slaby

A School of Education dean search and a third school -- art and design -- within the College of Arts and Sciences are two plans revealed Tuesday in the State of the University address given by Indiana University President Michael McRobbie at IU-Purdue University Indianapolis.

McRobbie outlined seven priorities in the Bicentennial Strategic Plan -- a plan that gives IU goals to accomplish by the university’s bicentennial in 2020. The priorities will both be supported and tracked “through relevant metrics,” McRobbie said.

“The plan contains many other actions, many aimed to conclude by or before the bicentennial, but these seven Bicentennial Priorities are vital to IU’s third century,” McRobbie said.

‘Reimagining education’

Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the IU School of Education, will retire June 30, 2015, after 15 years as dean. And the bicentennial priority to reimagine education will be important in the search for a new dean, McRobbie said.

The IU president said he will create a committee of external experts to study directions and trends in teacher education and education research. Their findings will help with the dean search as well as inform the direction of education programs across IU, McRobbie said.

This is a good time for a new leader to come in and build on the school’s successes and high rankings, Gonzalez said. However, he said the challenges in education are great as enrollment is down for the IU schools of education and so are teachers’ salaries in Indiana.

But Gonzalez was excited to hear education as the third priority listed by McRobbie after student success and research at IU. He said it’s a statement that the university knows education is a shared responsibility.

“Education is important to all of us,” Gonzalez said.

He said he’s long advocated for IU to invest in K-12 education because of its role in building communities and the economy. After retiring and taking a sabbatical, Gonzalez said he plans to return to the school to be a professor in education leadership and policy.

McRobbie noted that education is facing policy changes and low college-completion rates in Indiana, which “raise questions about the college- or job-readiness of Indiana’s high school graduates.”

“It is essential that the university look deeply into how its schools of education can best serve the needs of students who wish to pursue careers in education as well as the needs of the educational system of this state, the nation and the world,” he said.

‘Toward a culture of building and making’

Plans for a new School of Art and Design are in the final planning stages, and McRobbie will create a committee to study the possibility of creating a systems engineering program at IU Bloomington.

Both are within the bicentennial priority of moving “toward a culture of building and making.”

That culture -- which brings new companies, products and services -- is created through design and engineering, McRobbie said. He said these are two programs IU Bloomington has long needed and discussed.

“Such programs are vital if IU Bloomington is to reach its full potential to provide relevant and rewarding educational opportunities, to contribute more extensively to the state economic development and to contribute to the state and national need for STEM graduates,” he said.

The new school would be made of apparel merchandising and interior design as well as studio art and housed within the College of Arts and Sciences -- like the recently created Media School and School of Global and International Studies.

IU Provost Lauren Robel said faculty in the three areas are excited and voted to move forward with creating the new school. The school would also include IU’s Center for Art and Design in Columbus, and the proposal for the school should go to the IU trustees in coming months, McRobbie said.

Robel said the school within the college structure helps to create a smaller academic home within the college for students and pairs liberal arts and professional training in an exciting way.

Additional priorities

A draft of the bicentennial plan is available at The university will collect feedback until Nov. 22 before the plan is revised and proposed at the December IU Board of Trustees’ meeting.

In addition to education and a culture of building and making, the plan has five more priorities:

• Student success -- continue to review programs to ensure relevance and responsiveness to student needs while also keeping IU affordable to students of all backgrounds.

• Research -- support faculty and graduate students in receiving grants and other research funding, especially for multidisciplinary challenges.

• International engagement -- build relationships with peer institutions around the world while continuing to establish international offices.

• Health sciences -- build research capacity in this area and also work to improve the health of Indiana residents.

• Innovation -- use the IU Research and Technology Corp. for high quality support of entrepreneurial activity at IU.