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Last modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013

IU Bloomington provost outlines priorities in State of the Campus address

Feb. 20, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel spelled out her commitment this week to engage the IU Bloomington community in developing a sharply focused strategic plan for the campus.

Provost State of the Campus 2013

Chris Meyer/IU Communications

Print-Quality Photo

Speaking Tuesday in her inaugural State of the Campus address, Robel said creating the plan is her top goal for the coming year. The campus strategic plan will establish priorities and help align campus resources to invest in faculty, diversity, educational excellence and global initiatives.

"If we seize this opportunity as a campus to shape our destiny, to engage in a sustained and comprehensive conversation about our future, we can look ahead to exhilarating possibilities," Robel said.

Among her announcements, Robel said she will recommend creating a School of Communication, Media and Journalism through a merger of the School of Journalism and the Department of Telecommunications and Department of Communication and Culture in the College of Arts and Sciences. For the new school, the creation of which was recommended by a committee of faculty from those programs, Robel said she will make available space within the newly renovated Franklin Hall. She said she envisions the school following the same administrative structure as the new School of Global and International Studies, which is administratively housed within the College of Arts and Sciences.

"I have concluded that the programs have a bright future and will best serve students if they are combined into a single school, if the campus can invest appropriate resources in facilities and faculty, and if the departments can repurpose their existing resources away from administrative overhead and toward their shared academic mission," Robel said.

The provost highlighted the following areas to be addressed in the strategic plan:

Faculty excellence

Robel said the number of tenure-track faculty remained constant during the recent recession, and diversity has increased. But there are overlaps and gaps in faculty support, demonstrating a need to align hiring with research priorities, match support with academic career stages and provide support pathways to excellence for diverse faculty. Thomas Gieryn, vice provost for faculty and academic affairs, will lead a strategic plan working group to address issues regarding tenure-line faculty.

Robel also announced that she has invested in an institutional membership with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. The center provides support services for faculty members, graduate students and postdocs, including mentoring, skill-building and peer support, and has particular expertise in supporting diverse faculty. Robel said that an invitation to participate will soon be sent to faculty members, postdocs and graduate students, and a kick-off workshop is scheduled for April 24.

Support for teaching

The number of faculty who focus solely on undergraduate teaching has increased. Sonya Stephens, vice provost for undergraduate education, will lead a planning group that examines the role of teaching-rank faculty and makes recommendations for supporting those faculty members. Robel said she has asked the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning to develop a comprehensive suite of programs to support teaching-rank faculty in their quest for excellence in the classroom.

Graduate education

James Wimbush, dean of the University Graduate School, will chair a working group on challenges facing graduate education, including time to degree, especially in the humanities and social sciences; completion rates for Ph.D. candidates; counseling and information for non-academic careers; and the lack of a pipeline for diverse graduate students.

Recruiting a highly qualified, diverse, global student body

While the percentage of under-represented minority students has increased in recent years, campus leaders will focus on more effective recruitment and retention. Resources have been increased for the Hudson & Holland Scholars Program, which serves minority and first-generation students. Robel described several collaborations under way to coordinate diversity efforts on campus, in particular aligning the activities of the Office of Enrollment Management with those of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multiculturalism.

Robel also highlighted the growing number of international students, a development she called "a stunningly good thing," and called on teachers to be thoughtful in responding to the needs and opportunities of global classrooms. She has asked Hilary Kahn, director of the Center for the Study of Global Change, to head a working group on best practices for integrating a global student body.

Undergraduate experiences and academic and career advising

The campus must commit to enabling all undergraduates to take part in either overseas study, research or internships, Robel said. This imperative requires the campus to "up our game around advising," in order to ensure that students graduate on time and having engaged in meaningful career preparation, she said. To that end, IU Bloomington is partnering with Education Advisory Board in an 11-university student success initiative pilot project that will provide advisors with new analytical tools.

"This initiative brings the power of analytics, using data going back 10 years, to advisors' fingertips," she said.

Additionally, a group led by Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives M.A. Venkataramanan has recommended a campus-wide framework for academic and career advising. Robel said she would be sharing those recommendations with the deans this week and asking them to consider means of implementing this student-centered system of advising.

Global engagement

IU Bloomington is strengthening and expanding its global presence. The campus currently ranks seventh in the nation for the number of students who study abroad and 11th as a destination for international students. Additionally, the campus continues to increase its influence through the IU Online initiative and hundreds of global partnerships. Next week, Robel will join other university officials to open IU's first international gateway office near New Delhi, India, which she called "a tangible incarnation of our university's deep and historical commitment to global engagement."

Program transformation

The vision of IU's New Academic Directions report has produced the School of Public Health and School of Global and International Studies, an upcoming merger of the School of Informatics and Computing and the School of Library and Information Science, and the creation of an Integrated Program in the Environment. In addition to the communication, media and journalism merger, initiatives are under way involving design, the arts, the humanities, women in technology, STIM (science, technology, informatics and mathematics) education and scholarly publishing.

The full text of the State of the Campus address and a photo gallery are available online. An archived video of the address is available at