IU president: New programs will benefit southwest Ind.


JASPER — Indiana University has developed new programs school President Michael McRobbie thinks will directly benefit southwest Indiana.


McRobbie talked about the Academic Health Science Research Center in Evansville, a new engineering program and the state of Indiana University as a whole during a conference at Vincennes University Jasper Campus on Friday afternoon.

Originally from Australia, McRobbie, 65, joined IU almost 20 years ago to help the university develop academic programs in technology. He was the university’s first vice president for information technology and chief information officer. He has been IU’s president since 2007.

McRobbie’s visit came after a stop in Evansville for the ground-breaking of the Academic Health Science and Research Center, a collaboration between IU, the University of Southern Indiana and the University of Evansville that will open in 2018. Students at the center will complete residencies at local hospitals, including Memorial Hospital in Jasper, which McRobbie feels will lead them to settle in the area.

“Studies have shown that a good indicator of where doctors will settle is where they go to medical school,” McRobbie said.  

IU also set up intelligent systems engineering, an engineering program at the Bloomington campus that McRobbie thinks will assist southwest Indiana’s manufacturing base.

“I see the role that IU can have and does have in manufacturing as being very highly oriented toward the technology side,” McRobbie said.

He pointed out that manufacturing is dependent on technology for both production and logistics.

McRobbie hopes the new programs will strengthen the connection between IU and southwest Indiana, a region where IU does not yet have a campus, although McRobbie isn’t ruling it out.

“I regret in many ways that we don’t have a regional campus in this part of the state,” he said. “If there are good opportunities for us to expand into other parts of the state, we are very open to doing that.”

The holdup is the large higher education presence already in the area that includes USI, UE and Vincennes University. Of course, McRobbie thinks IU stands apart simply because of the range of programs it offers. IU, which has regional campuses in Fort Wayne, Gary, Kokomo, New Albany, Richmond and South Bend, offers bachelor’s through doctorate degrees. Although the university does not offer associate degrees, the deans in each of the schools have developed certificate programs.

With the addition of the engineering program, McRobbie said IU is “almost totally comprehensive” in the academics it offers students.

Despite some recent troubling news about IU, including a former student’s assault of a Muslim woman off campus this month, McRobbie said student morale is good, and he was impressed with how the campus community rallied around the Muslim woman (the student was expelled).

As for violence in general, the university has several programs and procedures in place, including student-run organizations such as Culture of Care, which is dedicated to fighting sexual abuse.

“I do think there are some areas of personal safety, like sexual assault, where the greatest impact of advocacy is from the students,” McRobbie said.

For McRobbie, the biggest challenge facing the university is sustaining the quality of education as IU experiences a high growth rate and sustaining research funding. Last year, the university received $541 million for research, more than Indiana’s other public institutions combined. That money goes toward myriad research projects, including ones on public health, sustainable energy and technology. Although McRobbie hopes the research can help nationally and internationally, the first area to benefit from findings would be Indiana.

Last month, the university launched its bicentennial capital campaign with a goal of $2.5 billion to be raised by 2020, IU’s bicentennial year. The funding will go toward research programs, student support and faculty recruitment, all of which McRobbie thinks will also benefit the state.

“That goal is good for IU, and it’s good for Indiana,” he said.

This semester, there are 364 students at IU who are from Dubois County.

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