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Last modified: Tuesday, September 27, 2011

IU President McRobbie examines the value, impact and meaning of higher education in annual State of University address

Sept. 27, 2011

EDITORS: Media interested in obtaining high-quality video clips from the speech should contact Ryan Piurek, University Communications, at 812-855-5393 or

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Directly addressing a "complex and difficult set of issues" that includes declining state funding, tuition, student debt and questions about the basic value of higher education, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie delivered the annual State of the University address today (Sept. 27) at IU Bloomington.

Speaking before an audience of IU faculty and staff gathered at the Indiana Memorial Union, McRobbie spoke candidly about each of these issues, while extolling the university's efforts to become more efficient, affordable and engaged in the lives of Hoosiers across Indiana.

"These efforts are not just reactions to the current economic situation," McRobbie said. "They are our collective and ongoing efforts to define what it means to be a public university with a dual responsibility to the people of the state and to the academy."

State of the University 2011

IU President Michael A. McRobbie delivers the 2011 State of the University address.

Print-Quality Photo

IU's value as a public university is reflected in its high-quality education and research and longstanding commitment to partnering with the state, McRobbie said.

But challenging economic times have caused many to view education from a "narrow financial perspective," he added, and there are increasing expectations that public universities do more to contribute to the life of their state.

To this end, McRobbie said IU will begin implementing several university reports from the last year -- including the New Academic Directions report for the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses, and the Blueprint for Student Attainment for IU's regional campuses. Included in the reports were recommendations for enhancing teaching and learning for 21st century students, faculty and staff; streamlining processes so that they are more efficient; and, ultimately, redefining IU as a public university.

In his address, McRobbie noted that IU is educating more students (a record of more than 110,000 this fall, including nearly 85,000 from Indiana) than at any time in the university's history -- while, simultaneously, its state funding has sharply declined. For the current budget year, about 18 percent of IU's funding will come from the state of Indiana, compared with about 50 percent two decades ago.

Despite the reduction in state funding, though, many of IU's in-state students pay less than advertised tuition rates because they are receiving significant scholarship and grant aid, McRobbie said. Three out of four students at IU Bloomington receive some form of financial aid, and the average net cost of undergraduate tuition and fees for those students is under $2,600 at IU Bloomington, which is down from last year and matches the average net cost that IU students paid nine years ago. Additionally, over the past five years, IU has quadrupled institutional aid to students to more than $88 million this year university-wide.

McRobbie pointed out several other notable achievements that have allowed the university to maintain its academic quality, ensure its affordability and increase its level of engagement with the state:

  • IU has reduced its ongoing base budget by $36 million over the past two years. An additional $40 million in savings will be realized each year through software licensing agreements that allow faculty, staff and students to access essential computer applications at reduced cost. IU's recently offered early retirement plan is expected to save the university nearly $10 million.
  • As a result of its credit rating being upgraded to AAA, IU has lowered the cost of servicing its debt significantly in recent years, saving the state more than $30 million.
  • IU awarded a record 19,017 degrees across the university last spring, roughly equal to the number of degrees awarded at both Purdue University and Ivy Tech Community College.
  • For the first time in IU history, research expenditures at the university exceeded the $500 million mark in a single fiscal year. This figure represents an economic impact of more than a billion dollars on the state and thousands of jobs.
  • IU Bloomington welcomed its most accomplished class of in-state freshman students, including IU's largest class of National Merit Scholars. Eighty percent of in-state students graduated in the top quarter of their high school class, including a record 128 valedictorians this year. This cohort of students also earned the highest average SAT scores in the campus's history.
  • The newly named IU Health is growing to be the largest hospital system in Indiana, as well as one of the largest hospital systems in the country, treating more than 100,000 Hoosiers in the last year.
  • In the last three years, 17 start-up companies have been established based on IU research, including seven companies formed last year.
  • To better serve the local and global needs of the state, the university is establishing two distinct schools of public health, a School of International Studies, a full-fledged School of Philanthropy and an Office of Online Education.

The full text of McRobbie's address is available at To view an archived broadcast of the State of the University go to

Selected video highlights of the speech are available at