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Last modified: Friday, April 15, 2011

IU President McRobbie: New reports will 'move university forward'

April 15, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie this week presented to IU Trustees recommendations contained in several new committee reports and the subsequent actions IU is taking toward strengthening academic and business affairs across the university.

Michael McRobbie

Michael McRobbie

Print-Quality Photo

During a two-day meeting of IU Trustees in Bloomington, McRobbie summarized the results of five reports, which he requested last year and reflect a number of key priorities he outlined in his 2010 State of the University addresses. The reports encompass a variety of areas, including the quality and effectiveness of IU's academic structures; efficiencies at IU's regional campuses; online education activities; administrative processes and services; and the revitalization of a historically significant area of the IU Bloomington campus.

"In my nearly 15 years at IU, this is, by far, the largest number of reports -- with such far-reaching consequences -- that I have ever seen submitted around the same time," McRobbie said. "The effort involved in their preparation and assessment at one of the busiest times of the year at IU is substantial, and the effort to move them into implementation even greater. I am extremely confident that these reports will move the university forward in varying ways, and I look forward to the steps we will take to ensure their effectiveness."

McRobbie added that he was grateful for the efforts of the "hundreds of people on all campuses who have contributed in positive ways to these reports."

Below are a few highlights from McRobbie's report presentations:

New Academic Directions Committee

Last fall, IU formed a committee, co-chaired by IU Bloomington Provost Karen Hanson and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Chancellor Charles Bantz, to review IU's academic structures for quality, effectiveness, efficiency and responsiveness to educational trends.

The New Academic Directions Committee report calls for, among other proposals, continued strategic investments in existing and new programs, innovative realignments among academic units and greater administrative efficiency. Upon accepting the report, McRobbie said he plans to solicit input and ideas from university vice presidents and chancellors, deans, key faculty leaders and others who are expected to play key roles in implementing some of the plan's major initiatives.

The full report is available at

Old Crescent Academic Working Group

McRobbie announced that he has approved a report concerning the reallocation of space in the historic area of the IU Bloomington campus known as the Old Crescent. Presently, only about half of the buildings that comprise the Old Crescent house academic units.

The Old Crescent Academic Working Group, led by IU Executive Vice President and IU Bloomington Provost Karen Hanson and Vice President for Capital Projects and Facilities Tom Morrison, will begin developing plans to repurpose Franklin Hall, located on the corner of Kirkwood and Indiana avenues, for increased academic functions. The group will also consider the relocation of some student services currently housed in Franklin Hall, which served as the IU library from 1908 to 1969, to the Indiana Memorial Union.

These will be among the first steps in returning the Old Crescent to a vibrant center of academic and student life, McRobbie said.

IU Strategic Plan for Online Education

In his September 2010 State of the University address, McRobbie asked IU School of Informatics and Computing Dean Bobby Schnabel to initiate a study of the effectiveness and efficiency of IU's online education activities. Per one of the study's recommendations, IU will establish a small, university-wide office to provide strategic oversight and assistance to IU's online offerings, with a goal of ensuring standards for online education that are equivalent to those for on-campus education in terms of quality, faculty involvement and academic oversight.

Barbara Bichelmeyer, associate vice president in the Office of the Executive Vice President for University Regional Affairs, Planning and Policy, has been asked to head this new office, and a complete strategic plan for online education at IU is expected later this summer.

Regional Campus Expenditure Review

As part of the reorganization of IU's regional campuses last spring, McRobbie announced the creation of an Expenditure Review Committee, to be chaired by IU East Chancellor Nasser Paydar, to identify opportunities for savings among IU's regional campuses. Its review was to include consideration of sharing services and eliminating unnecessary duplication.

The committee's report, which was presented to the Trustees at the Thursday meeting, made numerous recommendations that will be incorporated into the broader strategic planning document for IU's regional campuses, the Blueprint for Student Attainment. The Blueprint process, which was initiated by Executive Vice President for University Regional Affairs, Planning and Policy John Applegate, is expected to be completed in early summer.

Cost Benchmarking Report

McRobbie also accepted a report of IU administrative staffing and service levels, part of an on-going effort to improve the way IU conducts business. Conducted by the global consulting firm The Hackett Group, the report includes an assessment of IU's activities in human resources, payroll, student services and communications and marketing, and enables IU to draw comparisons with similar universities, as well as private-sector companies, around the nation.

Based on the report's recommendations, future actions will include implementing a plan to increase the usage of IU's automated time and attendance system, which, if not used properly, could undermine IU's ability to continue to provide HR and payroll services at a low cost per employee. Additionally, IU will start to consider ways to consolidate back-office operations in the areas of student services and business process support across the university system.

The report also provided general recommendations about marketing and communications expenditures, including their potential to generate revenue and distinguish the university in ways that allow it to reduce the costs associated with student recruitment.

IU Kelley School of Business Dean Dan Smith will work with Vice President of Public Affairs and Government Relations Mike Sample and Associate Vice President Valerie Pena to review these recommendations and develop a strategic plan for university marketing that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of IU's marketing investments, while also recognizing the widely varying missions and environments of IU's campuses and academic units. Smith is expected to deliver his initial thoughts on the strategic plan later this summer.