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Last modified: Thursday, March 1, 2007

IU Trustees select Michael A. McRobbie as 18th president

March 1, 2007

EDITORS: The Trustees of Indiana University have scheduled a news conference for 5 p.m. EST in the University Place Conference Center Auditorium at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. To view the news conference through live video stream, or for more information on IU's new president, go to

Read McRobbie's comments following the IU Board of Trustees' vote:

View a photo gallery of today's events:

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Trustees of Indiana University today (March 1) unanimously approved the appointment of Michael A. McRobbie as the 18th president of the 187-year-old institution with eight campuses and more than 97,000 students.

Michael A. McRobbie

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McRobbie, currently the interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at IU Bloomington, has been a senior administrator at IU for 10 years. With an education grounded both in philosophy and science, he came to IU in January 1997 as vice president for information technology and chief information officer. Six years later, he was given the additional responsibilities of vice president for research.

McRobbie, 56, a native of Australia, will replace Adam W. Herbert, who announced last year that he would not serve beyond the end of his contract. Although Herbert's five-year contract runs through June 2008, he has said he would step down earlier if a replacement were found. McRobbie will officially take over as president on July 1, 2007.

"Michael has been the driving force behind many of our proudest accomplishments," said Steve Ferguson, president of the Board of Trustees. "Michael has demonstrated over and over that he not only knows what it takes to be one of the world's leading research universities, he has the ability and perseverance to make it happen. Michael's leadership has contributed to our increased stature in such key scientific fields as informatics and basic life sciences research. It was his vision that led to IU building the best information technology infrastructure of any university in the nation. And as provost at Bloomington, he has stimulated a renewed emphasis and energy in our many highly ranked arts and humanities programs."

McRobbie has overseen the development of several major research projects and initiatives for the university and led an extensive transformation in information technology, including development of an integrated information-technology infrastructure that links all IU campuses, providing faculty members with a variety of new tools for research and a rich computing environment for students.

McRobbie with Trustees

Michael McRobbie speaks before the Trustees of Indiana University after being appointed IU's 18th president.

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Trustee Tom Reilly said the nine trustees were impressed with McRobbie's background of intellectual accomplishment and academic leadership. He added that they were particularly enthusiastic about McRobbie's interest in expanding IU's international initiatives, his desire to bring together faculties on all campuses to work together more effectively and his recognition that IU must be a leader in economic and educational development across the state.

"Michael is a quiet, analytical person who is widely known for his academic accomplishments," Reilly said. "We are fortunate to find someone of such high stature in academia to lead us toward our goal of being one of the world's leading research universities. He will provide us with strong, effective and intelligent leadership. I believe Michael will bring about many positive changes for IU that will also be to the benefit of all Hoosiers."

Since being appointed interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at IUB, McRobbie has pursued campus priorities for the arts and humanities, life sciences and international activities, as well as the recruitment and retention of students and faculty. He also has developed an international strategic plan to help create and nurture global relationships that support the university's academic programs and provide opportunities for faculty and students. He led university delegations to China and Japan last year, which resulted in cooperative research ventures with several of those nations' premier universities.

When McRobbie came to IU 10 years ago, then President Myles Brand asked him to create a modern information technology environment throughout the university that would make the university a leader "in absolute terms for uses and applications of IT."

As a first step, McRobbie prepared the IU Information Technology Strategic Plan, which identified goals and objectives for the ambitious vision. As part of the restructuring process, he created University Information Technology Services to support the academic and administrative work of the university and played a major role in the creation of the School of Informatics, one of the nation's first institutions to combine all aspects of information technology into a single discipline.

Michael McRobbie with family

Michael McRobbie receives congratulations from members of his family.

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McRobbie also directed the development of I-Light, an integrated, high-speed optical fiber network that linked IU Bloomington, IUPUI and Purdue University -- and now includes other universities -- providing students and faculty with a rich research and computing environment. His foresight led to IU's involvement and management of Internet2's Abilene network, a national, high-speed data network that supports research among universities across the country and has fostered relationships for high-speed connections around the world. He also founded IU's Pervasive Technology Laboratories, funded in 1999 by a $30 million grant from the Lilly Endowment.

When his tenure as vice president for research began, McRobbie focused his attention on increasing external funding for IU programs. He has been instrumental in securing multimillion dollar grants funding for life sciences initiatives such as the Indiana Metabolomics and Cytomics Initiative (METACyt) and the Indiana Genomics Initiative at IU (INGEN), as well as for the New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities Program, which supports the creation of major new works of art in a variety of genres.

In 2006, he helped the university reach a deal with IBM to acquire one of the world's 20 most powerful supercomputers, ensuring IU's continued leadership in national research initiatives such as the National Science Foundation's TeraGrid, which links the nation's most powerful supercomputers.

McRobbie came to IU from the Institute of Advanced Study at the Australian National University, where he was a professor of information technology and chief executive officer of the Cooperative Research Center for Advanced Computational Systems.

In addition to his senior administrative responsibilities at IU, McRobbie holds professorships in computer science, informatics and philosophy, and adjunct professorships in cognitive science and information science on the IUB campus. He also is a professor of computer technology in the Purdue School of Engineering at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.

A member of many national and international industrial, governmental and scientific boards and committees, McRobbie currently holds appointments on the Sun Microsystems Academic Advisory Council, the Dell Platinum Council, the Internet2 International Relations Committee and the Microsoft Higher Education Advisory Group, among others.

He has led various technology initiatives in the area of high performance computing and communications for large universities, industry and government. In 2004, he was named to Computerworld magazine's list of "Premier 100 IT Leaders," which honors the top information technology strategists in the United States.

He has extensive interest and experience, in particular, with industry, research and government organizations in Asia, and established a major research collaboration agreement with Fujitsu, Japan's largest computer company. He also reached a similar agreement with Japan's Fifth Generation Computer Project and later served on its International Evaluation Committee. Prior to arriving at IU, he was a co-founder of the high-performance broadband Asia Pacific Advanced Network, which supports the research and education community all across the Asia-Pacific region.

McRobbie is the author, co-author or editor of several books and nearly 100 academic papers. He has been a member of the editorial board of a number of international journals and book series in information technology.

A principal investigator on numerous grants, his research interests include artificial intelligence, automated theorem proving and computational logic, high performance networking and the non-numerical applications of parallel supercomputing especially in symbolic computation. McRobbie earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Queensland and a doctoral degree at Australia National University.

In his spare time, McRobbie is an avid reader with a special interest in history and the arts. A widower who recently remarried, he and his wife, Laurie Burns, enjoy travel and keep busy with their six children.

All members of the university community and the public are invited to watch the news conference, which will be broadcast live to the IU campuses. The event also will be presented live on Additional information will be available at this Web site.

The press conference also will be simulcast to the following locations:

• IU Bloomington, Radio and Television, 180

• IUPUI, Nursing 222 and ET 137

• IU East, Whitewater 119

• IU Kokomo, Main 111

• IU Northwest, Hawthorn 105

• IU South Bend, Northside 072

• IU Southeast, Hillside 102

On the Bloomington campus, the event also can be viewed live on Campus Cable Channel 32.