Indiana University Board of Trustees approves bicentennial strategic plan

  • Dec. 5, 2014


NEW ALBANY, Ind. -- The Indiana University Board of Trustees has approved a sweeping set of strategic initiatives that will guide the university’s work across all campuses over the next five years.

The Bicentennial Strategic Plan for Indiana University, approved by the board today at its meeting at IU Southeast, includes eight strategic priorities that will be addressed between now and IU’s bicentennial in 2020.  

The plan provides a roadmap for IU’s efforts to remain among the best public research universities by redoubling its commitment in key areas associated with student success, faculty development, research, economic development, international engagement and the health of Indiana residents.

“This ambitious plan, which builds on nearly 200 years of excellence in teaching, scholarship and service, is fundamentally a forward-looking document that sets forth broad priorities and specific actions to be accomplished by the bicentennial, which will keep Indiana University on the course of greatness in its third century,” Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie said. “The robust process that resulted in this plan includes the views of hundreds of individuals across all IU campuses, and I am extremely pleased to say that the final document touches on every major aspect of IU’s mission.”

The plan was designed to elaborate upon the university’s Principles of Excellence approved by the Board of Trustees in 2010. The president presented a draft of the plan in his annual State of the University address in October.

Since the draft was released, the university has solicited feedback from faculty, staff, alumni and other key stakeholders. That feedback -- which includes nearly 350 comments submitted online as well as input from discussions with faculty, staff and students on all eight campuses where IU offers programs -- contributed significantly to the final document.

“I was delighted with the outpouring of responses to the draft plan, and the suggestions we received have strengthened the final document considerably,” said IU Executive Vice President John Applegate, who along with Michael Rushton, the university’s director of strategic planning and a professor at SPEA in Bloomington, led the development of the plan.

“Much of the work that will be involved in implementing this plan will be carried out at the campus and school levels, so the active participation by faculty and by staff experts on the issues addressed in the plan will be invaluable as we move forward,” Applegate said.

The eight bicentennial priorities are: 

  • Commitment to student success: This wide-ranging priority will ensure that IU remains among the most affordable universities in the nation, while at the same time continuing to offer a high-quality educational experience that leads to timely degree completion. IU’s commitment to value will call on the university to pursue innovative options in course delivery, continue to align academic offerings with the needs of the 21st-century workplace and build on existing efforts to keep costs to students as low as possible.
  • A community of scholars: To remain an outstanding institution, IU must continue to attract, develop and retain a diverse and talented faculty who are recognized as among the very best in their fields. This priority will focus on IU’s efforts to create a culture among faculty members of all ranks and across all disciplines that promotes a scholarly community. Greater emphasis will be placed on creating faculty networks, strengthening leadership development programs and supporting faculty members’ efforts to embrace new educational technologies and instructional methods.
  • Catalyzing research: Increasingly, IU will promote multidisciplinary research that addresses the grand challenges facing our state, nation and world. As part of this priority, IU will provide targeted seed funding to assist faculty in the pursuit of greater external research funding for their work and pursue a strategy of “cluster hires” of outstanding research faculty in areas of strategic importance to the university. The university also will continue its successful New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities program, which has funded hundreds of research and scholarly projects over the past decade, through the bicentennial.
  • Re-imagining education: IU’s School of Education, one of the best in the nation, plays a vital role in the training of educators and in education research. Despite its success, the school -- like many others in the nation -- has seen falling enrollments in recent years, largely as a result of the challenging policy and economic environments faced by P-12 schools today. The strategic plan calls for faculty at the school to review the latest trends in teacher education and education and then work with an outside panel of experts to identify and implement key initiatives.
  • Building a global university: IU will continue to expand its international engagement, especially in the 32 countries of emphasis in the university’s international strategic plan. Central to that work will be the creation of IU “gateway offices” in several key regions of the world, in addition to the offices in Beijing and New Delhi that IU has opened recently. IU also will soon complete its work to create alumni chapters in all 32 of those countries and increase study abroad opportunities and funding for students.
  • Health sciences research and education to improve the state and nation’s health: IU’s health sciences research and clinical activities contribute significantly to the health and physical well-being of Hoosiers; but more needs to be done in this area, especially in light of today’s increasingly challenging health care and science research funding environment. IU’s strategic plan calls for the university -- primarily through the IU School of Medicine -- to build research capacity in population health management, cancer, cardiovascular disease and the neurosciences. McRobbie said the university also plans to develop new interprofessional degrees and specialized qualifications in the health sciences to better prepare heath care professionals for future team-based health care delivery models.
  • Building a prosperous and innovative Indiana: Given IU’s standing as one of the largest employers in the state and its role as the largest educator of Indiana college graduates, IU has a unique role in the economic development of the state. To further the efforts of IU’s economic engagement organization, the IU Research and Technology Corp., the strategic plan calls for the IURTC to more tightly focus IU’s support of faculty research on those innovations with the most potential for commercial development. Additionally, IU’s regional campuses will engage in their local communities to an even greater degree to deliver educational programs that address the needs of their home regions.
  • Toward a culture of building and making: To address the national shortage of science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates and strengthen IU’s commitment to state and local economic development, IU Bloomington must address its lack of programs in design and engineering. IU intends to pursue, with the assistance of outside experts in the field of engineering, the creation of an IT-based engineering program that would leverage IU’s existing strengths in informatics and computer science and that would complement larger, established engineering schools elsewhere. At the same time, the university plans to establish a more robust design program at IU Bloomington. In October, faculty members in the Department of Studio Arts and the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design voted overwhelmingly to establish a new School of Design and Art, which will serve as an important first step in strengthening IU’s offerings in a full range of design-related disciplines.

The full plan, which includes details on each priority as well as proposed success metrics and a discussion of IU’s mission, vision and core values, can be found online at

The bicentennial strategic plan the IU Trustees approved today is the culmination of work that has been ongoing for a number of years. The plan was informed by the recommendations in IU’s 2011 New Academic Directions report, which already has led to the creation of several new schools at IU; and the Blueprint for Student Attainment, which is driving the mission of IU’s regional campuses.

In addition, each IU campus -- as well as a number of functional areas such as research, information technology, economic development, facilities and international engagement -- has created strategic or master plans in the past few years that provided a foundation for the university-wide plan.

“The bicentennial plan builds on a large body of forward-thinking work that has already been done across all our campuses in recent years and is designed to provide the focus and direction necessary to ensure that we continue to make meaningful progress in the areas of greatest importance to IU’s future success,” McRobbie said.

“The priorities and associated metrics for success articulated in this plan represent the shared vision of many individuals committed to strengthening IU’s legacy as one of the world’s great public research universities. Now, the hard work of turning these ideas into reality begins, so that IU can continue to fulfill its promise of education, research and service to the people of Indiana and beyond.” 

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