Honoring President McRobbie

Passion for Progress and Vision for the Future: The McRobbie Era at Indiana University

April 14, 2021
Zoom Meeting
Indianapolis, Indiana

Good morning, and thank you all for joining the IUPUI Board of Advisors and Chancellor's Circle associates as we pay tribute to Indiana University President Michael McRobbie on the occasion of his retirement.

This is a big moment in the life of our university. Including President McRobbie, Indiana University has had 18 presidents, and each one has brought a different style and character to that position. In different ways every single one of them has also helped to build the character of our institution as a place that values diversity and inclusion, that embraces faculty, staff, and students from around the world, that celebrates and supports excellence in education and research, and that is always looking towards the future.

These words characterize President McRobbie, who has taken Indiana University to new heights during his 14-year tenure as president.

In the past three years alone, IU's student body has set new records for diversity with minority students now constituting about a quarter of IU's degree-seeking population. Since 2007, President McRobbie's first year in office, IUPUI's undergraduate students of Color have increased from 16 percent to more than 30 percent this year. We are very proud of this remarkable increase.

President McRobbie has led extensive academic restructuring to provide all students across the university more opportunities to succeed. Under his leadership, 10 schools have been established. Here at IUPUI we have established the world's first and still only school of philanthropy—The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The same year we formed the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, which has contributed significantly to the expert response to the COVID-19 pandemic including the first-of-its-kind statewide prevalence study. We also formed the School of Education at IUPUI and established the School of Health & Human Sciences. I'd also like to add that we named the Robert H. Mckinney School of Law during President McRobbie's tenure.

These schools and many others have contributed to Indiana University's position as a research powerhouse. President McRobbie's vision led to the creation of the Grand Challenges program, the largest and most ambitious investment in any research program in IU's 200-year history. Grand Challenges projects include outstanding faculty from across the university, including IUPUI, among them Dean of the School of Nursing Robin Newhouse, who leads the Responding to the Addictions Crisis initiative.

Since 2007, IUPUI's research portfolio has grown from just under $300 million to well over $600 million, including the IU School of Medicine. In just the past year, we’ve seen the incredible work of our researchers in the fight against the pandemic from Engineering and Technology to Nursing, from the School of Liberal Arts to the School of Medicine, and many other areas.

One day, years from now, history books will tell the story of the McRobbie era at Indiana University. It will be a story of a passion for progress with a vision for the future.

IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar

All of this progress takes space, and during President McRobbie's tenure the university as a whole has constructed or renovated more than 200 major new facilities across all campuses with a total value approaching $2.75 billion. Several major projects at IUPUI include the construction of the Science, Engineering, and Laboratory Building, North Residence Hall, Innovation Hall, and University Hall, of which I am particularly fond since my office is there. They include Walther Hall and the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute among other School of Medicine projects.

Since 2007, we have also seen the massive renovation of the Natatorium at IUPUI, the restoration of beautiful Ball Garden, and the historic renovation of the Madam Walker Theater with our partners at the Lilly Endowment and on the Madam Walker Board. We converted the University Tower Hotel to a residence hall and with great support from the city, we saw the transformation of Michigan and New York streets into two-way thoroughfares.

These changes and so many others have had a tremendous positive impact on our campus, and I would venture to say on the city as well, connecting the campus to the city and ensuring that treasures like the Natatorium remain a valuable asset.

These positive changes have been accomplished with support from the legislature as well as with generous support from philanthropy. Thanks to the president's vision, the university launched the For All: Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign, the largest fundraising campaign in IU's history, and one of the largest ever by a public university. That campaign raised nearly $3.9 billion to support ensuring an affordable and accessible education, preparing students to become future global leaders, and advancing research and innovation that improve people's lives.

I want to extend my deep gratitude to our Chancellor's Circle associates as well as others in the audience for your generosity and support for programs and projects across the IUPUI campus.

Before I close, I would be remiss if I failed to mention First Lady Laurie Burns McRobbie who has done so much more than stand by President McRobbie's side during these many years.

Laurie has tirelessly focused on important issues, including promoting and advancing scientific and mathematical literacy, especially among underrepresented groups. Inspired by research on women's philanthropic power, Laurie founded Women's Philanthropy at Indiana University in 2010 and established the Women's Philanthropy Leadership Council, which serves as the governing council of Women's Philanthropy at IU. I am also proud to say that the first lady is an IUPUI Jaguar, having earned her master's degree from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy just a few years ago.

One day, years from now, history books will tell the story of the McRobbie era at Indiana University. It will be a story of a passion for progress with a vision for the future. These may be the best words to describe President McRobbie, whose passion and vision have paved the university's way for years to come.

My deepest thanks for all you have done for Indiana University over the past 14 years. Your vision and leadership have created a legacy that will help the university continue to chart a pathway defined by excellence in education and research always working in the interest of the state of Indiana, our country, and the world more broadly.

And I want to thank everyone for joining us this morning with special thanks to Mayor Joe Hogsett and Indianapolis City-County Council President Vop Osili. I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Relive the event

See the moment Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett proclaims April 14, 2021, Michael A. McRobbie Day, and hear from Indianapolis City-County Council President Vop Osili about the special resolution passed by the council honoring President McRobbie.

Watch the recording