Indiana’s economy, innovation and expanding engagement opportunities for Indiana University worldwide were key themes in a half-hour address IU President Michael A. McRobbie gave Tuesday before the Rotary Club of Indianapolis.
Economy: In terms of people power, last spring IU exceeded 20,000 graduates statewide for the first time. With 100,000 people attending those graduation ceremonies, the impact on Indiana “even of our commencement ceremonies, is quite substantial,” McRobbie said. With 650,000 living graduates, IU also boasts the nation’s third-largest alumni body.
When it comes to STEM (science, technology, math or engineering) graduates, IU produces more than any other institution statewide and has provided “by far” the greatest increase in such degrees, McRobbie said. Such production is important as Indiana and other states struggle to address the “skills gap” that exists between employers that increasingly demand technically skilled workers and a lack of workers sufficiently trained by the nation’s colleges and universities.
Recent transformations in IU’s academic structure are stimulating the state’s economy as well, McRobbie said. One example is conversion of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at IU Bloomington into the IU School of Public Health and the establishment of the Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.
“We established two schools of public health in a state that had no schools of public health and … some of the worst public health indicators in the nation,” McRobbie said. “We now have the only two accredited schools of public health in the state. And they are contributing to the state’s economic development through the promotion of a healthier workforce and the containment of rapidly increasing employer health care costs.”
The projected $1 billion consolidation of IU’s Indianapolis downtown medical facilities into a single, state-of-the-art campus — along with locating IU Bloomington academic health programs with the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital — will reap economic rewards as well.
“This regional academic health center … will help address state’s growing shortage of medical and health science professionals by allowing us to produce more graduates in these much in-demand professions. It will also attract investment and enhance economic development for Bloomington and south-central Indiana. In fact, we are already working with biotech and health sciences companies who are interested in co-locating facilities with the hospital.”
— IU President Michael A. McRobbie
Innovation: As in recent speeches across the Hoosier State, McRobbie also reviewed several programs and developments that reflect IU’s statewide push to promote innovative research that carries the potential to be turned into new products, technical innovations and medical treatments and cures:
- Five finalists recently were selected in the university’s Grand Challenges research program, which will invest up to $300 million in five years to address some of the planet’s most pressing issues. A final decision will be made in June, with one to two Grand Challenges expected to be funded between now and IU’s Bicentennial in 2020;
- Last year, IU set a statewide and institutional record with 183 national and international patents issued;
- More than $100 million in follow-on funding was attracted to Indiana for various startup companies based on IU innovations;
- IU recently was ranked by Reuters News as one of the world’s 50 most innovative universities.
“This ranking reflects the outstanding work of IU’s faculty, students and staff, our ability to translate our discoveries into the marketplace, and our staunch commitment to strengthening the state’s economic vitality,” McRobbie said.
Global engagement: By the time a typical student graduates at IU Bloomington, nearly one in three studied abroad at some point, McRobbie said. This ranks IU at No. 13 out of nearly 1,200 universities nationwide. Within the next five years, McRobbie hopes to boost the amount of students studying abroad to 35 or 40 percent, largely through the partnerships that IU maintains with more than 200 other institutions worldwide.
At the same time, IU Bloomington hosts nearly 6,500 international students, with IUPUI hosting about 2,000. All told, that amounts to nearly 9,000 students from 33 nations, making IU “without a doubt one of the most international universities in the United States.”
To maintain such a global presence, IU already has established three “global gateway offices” in Beijing, New Delhi and Berlin. By the time IU reaches its bicentennial, McRobbie plans to have seven gateway offices open. Future locations include a southeast Asia office later this year, followed by offices in Istanbul, Latin America and Africa.
“As (former IU president) Herman Wells said in a different context, once we get them established, then ‘the sun will never set on Indiana University,” McRobbie said.
Joining McRobbie at the address were IU Vice President of Engagement Bill Stephan and Nasser Paydar, chancellor of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.
To read McRobbie’s entire address, click here: