Five days after his selection as Indiana University’s 18th president, Michael McRobbie emphasized his commitment to the University’s regional campuses with a visit to IU Northwest in Gary, Ind. It was the first leg of the President-elect’s statewide tour of IU’s regional sites, and McRobbie made it clear that he considers the smaller campuses a full partner in the University’s educational mission.
“A third of all our students are educated by the regional campuses,” McRobbie said during a March 6 press conference at the IU Northwest Library Conference Center. “That in itself should demonstrate the importance of the regional campuses to Indiana University. This is how we bring high-quality education to students in communities throughout the state.”
In his first speech as president-elect, made on March 1 after the IU Board of Trustees unanimously selected him to succeed President Adam W. Herbert, McRobbie vowed to serve as president of the entire University. He said Tuesday that he expects IU Northwest and other regional sites to play a vital role in helping to make IU one of the world’s leading universities.
“This campus is consistently ranked as one of the most ethnically and economically diverse in the Midwest,” McRobbie noted. “Such diversity adds to the richness and strength of this institution and the education that it provides to students.”
McRobbie, who is currently serving as the interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at IU Bloomington, estimated that he’d visited the Northwest campus six times during his tenure with IU, mostly with regard to information-technology issues. McRobbie led an extensive transformation in information technology at IU, including development of an integrated information-technology infrastructure that links all University campuses.
The president-elect was complimentary of Chancellor Bruce Bergland, the IU Northwest administration and the entire campus for their efforts to engage the Northwest Indiana community in the process, goals and benefits of higher education. He said that every IU campus should seek to serve as an active partner in economic development in the region it serves. McRobbie also complimented the campus on its plans for a new College of Health and Human Services, an initiative he said holds great promise for the University and for the region’s healthcare community.
McRobbie participated in a full day of activities at IU Northwest, touring the campus, meeting with senior leadership officials, attending the press conference with area media, and participating in a student forum. At day’s end, the President-elect attended a reception where he was greeted by IU Northwest faculty, staff, students and alumni numbering in the hundreds.
“I was very impressed by the number of people who are here from the alumni association. You must have a bigger alumni association than Bloomington,” McRobbie told the crowd during his remarks at the reception.
McRobbie, 56, is a native Australian but is currently studying for his U.S. citizenship exam. Although his accent remains decidedly Down Under, McRobbie said his heart belongs to Indiana.
“Over the last decade I’ve fallen in love with IU and the state it serves,” said McRobbie, who joined IU in 1997. “My family and I have become Hoosiers. IU has become our home.”
Chancellor Bergland, who has worked with McRobbie on various initiatives over the years, said the president-elect possesses the attributes that are necessary to become a successful president.
“He emphasizes collaboration. He has a vision. And he is a man who thinks strategically,” the Chancellor said.
Bergland noted that, although McRobbie is known for his achievements in science and IT, he is also greatly interested in the arts and humanities.
“He crosses those fields very comfortably, and that’s very important for us,” Bergland said.
McRobbie, who has been at the forefront of numerous successful research projects at IU during the past decade, said the importance of research to the University could not be overstated. But he noted that research ultimately serves the institution’s fundamental goal: education.
“The power of education is the power to change the future,” McRobbie said.