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Last modified: Thursday, March 1, 2007

Remarks of Michael A. McRobbie

Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Indiana University Bloomington
March 1, 2007

President Ferguson, Trustee Talbot, President Herbert and members of the Board: both Laurie and I are delighted and humbled by your vote of confidence. We greatly look forward to the opportunities and responsibilities awaiting us as we begin this exciting new journey. I cannot express how fortunate I feel to have Laurie by my side. She is my indispensable partner in this great enterprise. And just as Laurie gives me support, my six children, four of whom are here this afternoon, let me know that I am wrong about almost everything.

But I can assure you I am right about this point: Indiana University is at a vital crossroads in its history. Our enduring missions will not change. We will continue to provide an excellent education and conduct first-rate research. And we have a third mission, engagement through economic development and community service, but it relies on our successful execution of the first two.

Michael and Laurie McRobbie

Michael McRobbie with his wife, Laurie, after being named Indiana University's 18th president.

Print-Quality Photo

Yet the environment in which we carry out these missions entails heightened challenges. We face fierce global competition for the best students and faculty, reductions in federal funding, generational change among IU's intellectual leaders and an overall climate of constrained resources. The challenges we must overcome to emerge as one of the world's best 21st century universities are very real. But so are the opportunities.

Our multi-campus structure presents both challenges and opportunities. Including our faculty, staff and alumni network, Indiana University is larger than the population of Wyoming and of course stretches across the entire state of Indiana. I intend to be a president for the whole of this great University. Such a vast institution demands special collaboration and cooperation among our various campuses. I am particularly pleased that we are here at IUPUI for this announcement. During my years as vice president for information technology and vice president for research, I divided my time between the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses. I recall with great pride my collaboration with Jerry Bepko that led to the construction of the magnificent new ICTC building.

My vision for Indiana University requires a balanced partnership between our two major research campuses. Both campuses need each other. Neither can reach its full potential without the other. Illustrating the truth of this statement, the Indiana Life Sciences Initiative draws on superb research at Bloomington and IUPUI and the School of Medicine and IU's partnership with Clarian Health Partners and Riley Children's Hospital. Outstanding leadership from Don Evans, Craig Brater and Ora Pescovitz, among others, has made IU a force for progress and innovation in this area. With support from the legislature, this initiative promises to make Indiana a national leader in the life sciences.

It will provide opportunities for extending our collaboration with Purdue and other Hoosier universities while sharpening our competitive edge in the global marketplace.

Michael McRobbie with family

Michael McRobbie receives congratulations from members of his family.

Print-Quality Photo

And this is also a university where discovery, engagement and curiosity drive students and faculty alike toward the book, the concert stage, the unpainted canvas. And this broad canvas draws our campuses together whether it's the Herron School of Art and Design here in Indianapolis, the Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington or the Whitewater Gallery at IU East. Indiana University has created a lasting legacy in the arts that is a gift to our many communities.

In fact, one great strength of this university is the healthy balance of disciplines that expose students to the full range of human knowledge. This is one of the ways that we prepare students to thrive in an increasingly global marketplace.

That very marketplace is driving our 21st century vision for Indiana University. Our message must travel from Bloomington to Bangalore, from South Bend to Shanghai.

We must compete for, and be accessible to, the best faculty and students in the world, regardless of their race, gender, religion or nationality.

Our vision must be both local and global. We must serve the state while focusing on the international horizon.

Throughout Indiana University's 187-year history, our strongest leaders have risen to the challenges of their eras, while always honoring the achievements of the past. It is humbling and inspiring to count myself among the small group have been privileged to lead this great institution.

As I walk in their footsteps, with Laurie by my side, I will remember the lessons of leadership they have taught. This university belongs to all of us: the artist, the scholar, the scientist, the dreamer.

Whatever our passion, let us cherish the past, live in the present and work to create an even more brilliant future for Indiana University.