Bloomington Herald-Times Article
McRobbie: Change is in the wind -- In speech to Rotary Club, IU provost notes seven major directions of transformation
by Bob Zaltsberg
January 24, 2007
Michael McRobbie sees "the winds of change" blowing at Indiana University, and predicts it will transform the university in the next five to 10 years.
McRobbie, interim provost and vice president of academic affairs at IU, told the Bloomington Rotary Club Tuesday he sees seven major directions of change for IU's Bloomington campus in the next decade. He said IU is up to the task, noting that universities are often accused of moving slowly or not being open to change. He said universities have been changing for centuries.
"The genius of universities is their ability to adapt," he said.
The seven areas of change, some of which are under way, are:
- More rigorous admission's standards: He said they will foster an improved intellectual environment on the Bloomington campus, a stronger academic profile and an improved reputation. Better students will lead to better faculty which will lead to better students and so on, he said. "Once you get the process started, it's self-perpetuating."
- Increased diversity: He said the goal is to double minority enrollment by 2013, but that's not the whole story. Increased access and affordability through financial aid programs will allow for more economic diversity as the best and the brightest are able to come to IU, no matter what their economic means.
- Transformation in research and scholarship: McRobbie used the life sciences initiative as an example, saying the future will focus on "interdisciplinary and collaborative intellectual directions." IU's 2007 legislative funding request centers on life sciences. He said while it's hard to compete with Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley in high technology because of the presence of Silicon Valley, the Bloomington-Indianapolis-Purdue corridor is one of "a half dozen areas of considerable concentration of life sciences. … We are in a position to compete at the highest levels, and this is what our legislative request is about," he said.
- A boom in construction projects, large and small: Most projects in the planning stages relate to adding research space in the broad area of life sciences.
- Arts and humanities improvements: While he sang the praises of what IU does now, he said enhanced scholarship and creative activity will buoy the arts and humanities infrastructure.
- Greater internationalization of the university: He said IU is competing for the very best students from around the globe, and that IU must produce "globally literate" graduates.
Generational transformation in the faculty: How the university manages this challenge will say a lot about its future, he suggested. More than half of IU's tenured faculty — 565 in number — will be eligible to retire in the next 10 years.
He said these changes also will transform Bloomington, making it more diverse, more international, and a haven for thinkers and entrepreneurs.