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Last modified: Friday, December 4, 2009

IU's President McRobbie responds to Governor's cuts to state higher ed

December 4, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS -- Today (Dec. 4) IU President Michael A. McRobbie made the following statement regarding Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' announcement this morning about the state's financial difficulties and how higher education institutions in Indiana would be affected. The statement was made at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis at the IU Board of Trustees Meeting.

Michael McRobbie

Michael McRobbie

Print-Quality Photo

President McRobbie's statement:

"I think it is appropriate for me to make just a few brief comments about an announcement I believe that the Governor is making this morning regarding the state's financial difficulties and the implications that will have for the funding of higher education in this state and for Indiana University in particular.

Late yesterday afternoon I spoke with senior officials of state government -- as did all other public university presidents -- and was informed of significant further cuts to the overall funding of higher education in Indiana that will be implemented in the next 30 days.

The details of these cuts, and their impact on Indiana University, have not yet been determined.

We have been asked by state officials to work closely with them in determining how these cuts will be allocated among the state's public institutions of higher education, and we will certainly do so.

As we work with state officials on this matter, I intend to be clear on a few critical points:

First of all, we recognize and understand that these are difficult and extraordinary times. State revenues are under extreme pressure, and, unfortunately, state officials are forced to consider cuts in many important programs, including higher education. We appreciate the fact that the state has implemented other cuts before addressing higher education funding, and we accept the reality that we cannot expect to be immune from the consequences of this economic downturn and its impact on state revenues.

Second, I want to make it clear that as we work with state officials on this issue, we will be stressing the vital role that Indiana University plays in the life of this state and the importance of preserving the excellence that is reflected throughout this institution. Our faculty, staff and students have made great strides in moving this institution forward in recent years, and it is vital to the state, as well as to Indiana University, that we are able to preserve and build on these gains.

Third, we will be making it clear that it is absolutely essential that these cuts to the state's higher education budget, be fairly allocated among public institutions in this state. It should be noted that Indiana's two research universities have already rolled back trustee approved tuition this year in light of economic conditions facing Hoosier families. It is therefore essential that these new proposed cuts not fall disproportionately on institutions that have already made sacrifices that others were exempt from making.

Fourth, it is critically important that the role and the authority of trustees be preserved throughout this process. Trustees of our public universities have the legal fiduciary responsibility for their respective institutions as well as the responsibility for overseeing the strategic direction of their respective institutions. They are best positioned to work with university management to determine how cuts within their institutions should be implemented.

Finally, I want to say that I have made it clear since becoming president, that one of our missions must be engagement in the economic life of our state. I am proud that we have made great strides in this regard.

In fact, before learning of these pending cuts to our budget, we were preparing to announce in a story that broke just this morning, that Indiana University, in conjunction with private philanthropic donors, would be establishing a $10 million venture capital fund to support the early stage growth and development of Indiana University technologies that have true commercial potential. This translates to more start-up companies, more jobs for Hoosiers and new revenues to help support our fundamental teaching and research missions.

It is our hope that initiatives such as this will not be threatened by the scope and magnitude of the budget cuts we will have to make.

In these very difficult economic times we have two fundamental objectives:

  • to preserve and expand the academic core of the university by retaining and securing the best faculty, and
  • to continue to build the infrastructure essential to supporting research and education at the highest levels of excellence.

Before turning to my report, let me reiterate one key point in all of this:

I want to assure our faculty, our students and our staff that we will do everything in our power to ensure that Indiana University is able to sustain the forward momentum that we all have worked so hard to achieve in recent years, and that we will emerge from this budget crisis as an institution of higher learning whose commitment to excellence in all our core missions is unquestioned.