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Jane Jankowski
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Thursday, June 5, 2003

Comments by Adam W. Herbert on accepting IU presidency

EDITORS: The following are comments made June 5 in Bloomington by Adam W. Herbert on his acceptance of Indiana University's presidency. Comments from other IU officials are available at More information is available at Publication-quality photos are available at

Members of the Board of Trustees, members of the Indiana Legislature (for whose presence I am deeply appreciative), members of the Indiana University family, and friends of this special institution:

President Eichhorn, President Bepko, and President Ryan, I am honored to accept the invitation of the Board of Trustees to serve as the 17th president of Indiana University.

Each of us needs a support system. I would like to begin my brief comments this morning by introducing to you a very special person in my life. She is for me the foundation of the essential support system that every leader must have. She will be an active partner in our service to you and to the State of Indiana: my wife Karen.

Both Karen and I understand the important responsibilities of this office, as well as the unique leadership and public service opportunities it affords.

I accept this assignment with a great deal of enthusiasm for the Indiana University mission. I also accept it in the belief that the next decade will offer unparalleled opportunities for the university to play an expanding role in shaping the future of Indiana, the nation and perhaps the world.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the members of the Board of Trustees, as well as each member of the presidential search committee, for the confidence you have placed in me today.

Having conducted similar searches for four university presidents in Florida, I can attest to the exceptional nature of your very thorough screening efforts, your very probing and insightful questions on all aspects of institutional life, and perhaps more important, your obvious commitment to make a presidential selection that reflects the needs and aspirations of the university.

You can be assured that I will work tirelessly to justify your confidence.

To the people of Indiana, my message is very simple. First, it is with great humility that I accept the responsibility of serving as the steward of one of your most valuable assets. Over the years ahead, I will never forget that every IU president has an obligation to enhance your university and ultimately to leave it even stronger and more distinguished than we have found it.

Second, my wife and I are committed to becoming not just residents of this great state, but citizens who feel an obligation to participate in a wide array of activities focused on enhancing the quality of life for all our people.

To the faculty, students, staff and alumni of the university, it is an honor to join you as a new member of the IU family. The distinctive record of institutional accomplishment that is a source of appropriate pride for each of you is a reflection of your collective efforts to build a world-class university. I understand and value the unique roles that these critical elements of the IU family play in the quest to achieve your high institutional aspirations.

This understanding is built on experiences accumulated during an academic career of over 34 years. I have had the opportunity to serve as the leader of the second-largest university system in America, with 10 universities and 18 additional instructional sites, almost 250,000 students and a budget exceeding $5 billion. I also have had the privilege of serving as a faculty member and academic administrator in a major AAU research university, a land grant institution, an urban research university, a comprehensive university, and both a regional education center and a branch campus.

I share this background information with you to make the point that I am of the professorate. I am sensitive to the academic values that guide our behavior in the conduct of professorial responsibilities. I am firmly committed to the philosophy of collegial governance that shapes our decision-making processes. And I recognize the centrality of outstanding teaching and cutting-edge research to the mission of a premier university such as this. I understand the importance of securing the essential funding that such teaching and research excellence demands. I acknowledge the critical need for active alumni who care about their alma mater and work with university officials in pursuit of our institutional aspirations. I know how important a highly skilled staff that supports our faculty and students is to advancing the mission of the university.

I affirm the reality that our most important mission is the education of students and that learning occurs not only in the classroom, but also through student involvement in all aspects of university life including research, international experiences and intercollegiate athletics. And I value deeply the important and unique role that universities play in our society as key pathways to professional success and to personal achievement.

Effective higher education leadership demands respect of these fundamental aspects of our enterprise that make universities such important instruments of societal advancement.

It also demands an understanding of and commitment to fulfilling our obligations to the citizens of this state. We must be responsive to the higher educational needs of the citizens of Indiana.

We must engage in research that not only advances the frontiers of knowledge, but also better informs public policy, fosters economic growth and enhances community development.

We must participate in community service activities that strengthen both early childhood and K-12 instruction.

We also must be as efficient and effective as possible in the use of the public resources that are entrusted to us.

I look forward to listening to and learning from each of you over the weeks ahead. I look forward to sharing my observations and specific thoughts about the significant opportunities that await us as an institution and also as a state. I also look forward to leading our collective efforts to lift this university even higher among the ranks of America's most outstanding research universities.

Thank you again for your warm welcome into the Indiana University family. I can tell you that I am now more excited than ever about making this our new home.