Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie took to the rooftops of South Bend on Wednesday to spread a message he has carried throughout a statewide tour to IU campuses and their host cities throughout the past year.
From the top of the city’s former Studebaker Corp. assembly building, which along with Union Station Technology Center anchors South Bend’s rising Renaissance District, McRobbie gazed upon an area that currently employs about 35 IU and IU South Bend graduates.
Like educational and business leaders throughout Indiana, McRobbie wants to see such numbers grow as the state seeks to fill a “skills gap” between the number of technically trained college graduates being produced and the growing demand for such workers among key employers.
One way to achieve such objectives is through internships — particularly when it comes to future employee retention, McRobbie said. Such efforts currently are being emphasized at IU South Bend, Chancellor Terry Allison said.
“If they want to get the best talent and make sure that talent stays here, access that talent as early as possible,” McRobbie told the South Bend-Tribune. McRobbie also told the newspaper he plans to ask IU’s chief technology officer and dean of informatics and computing to make a follow-up visit.
“Clearly there are opportunities here to serve our graduates,” McRobbie said, adding that local leaders can help by providing increased guidance and support for local startups — including those sparked by faculty research.
Among other activities at IU South Bend, McRobbie took part in a groundbreaking ceremony for the renovation of Riverside Hall. The $4 million project, set for completion in the fall of 2017, will update more than 11,000 square feet of space to house the hub of IU South Bend’s health sciences programs and classes, as well as provide health care for students, faculty, staff and the community.
“Anything that we can do that has an impact in improving public health I think is very, very important,” McRobbie told WBND-TV (ABC57 News). “By bringing together the health and wellness center and the various health sciences programs here, it’s really going to provide a focus and a concentration in one place. Because ultimately they’re all going to be working together, whenever they get to hospitals or clinics or wherever. So it makes sense to start training them together from the outset.”
McRobbie lunched with a half-dozen IU South Bend students and the director of the university’s honor’s program, Neovi Karakatsanis, He also toured a laboratory at IU School of Medicine-South Bend where researchers are studying the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness known to cause certain types of birth defects.
IU South Bend marked McRobbie’s last stop on a statewide tour to each of IU’s eight campuses and centers statewide to highlight the university’s connections statewide and further strengthen relations with business, community, government leaders and local media.