Indiana University president McRobbie announces retirement, search for successor begins

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana University (IU) announced Friday President Michael A. McRobbie will step down in June of 2021.

The university said the move is part of McRobbie’s planned retirement. McRobbie served for 14 years as university president and 24 years in senior positions.

“I am immensely proud of all that has been accomplished over the period I have been president,” McRobbie said. “All the change and effort has, I believe, consolidated and elevated IU’s position as one of America’s premier and leading research universities.

According to an IU news release, he made the announcement in an email to faculty, staff and students, and during Friday’s Board of Trustees meeting. McRobbie will continue as IU president through the current academic year.

The Board of Trustees was told of his retirement plans months ago, and a resolution was approved Friday to conduct a national search for a successor.

“Indiana University has benefited enormously from Michael McRobbie’s steady leadership, wisdom, innovative ideas and experience,” Trustee Melanie Walker said. “As one of the longest-tenured and most accomplished university presidents in the nation, he will leave large shoes to fill. But I am confident we will identify a leader who will build upon his accomplishments and continue to further IU’s longstanding traditions of academic excellence, world-class research and engagement in the life of our state.”

An Australian native, McRobbie came to IU in 1997 as its first vice president for information technology and chief information officer. He became a U.S. citizen, and was appointed vice president for research in 2003 and named interim provost and vice president for academic affairs for IU Bloomington in 2006. 

McRobbie became the school’s 18th president on July 1, 2007, making him one of the longest-serving university presidents in the country, according to IU.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said, “During President Michael McRobbie’s tenure, the state of Indiana has benefited in incalculable ways. From Indiana University’s ever-increasing engagement in transformational economic development projects to improving our international standing abroad, Michael’s leadership has enhanced the Hoosier state’s reputation globally.”

Holcomb added some final accolades for the IU president by saying, “Bravo to President McRobbie for the long list of accomplishments he leaves as a guiding compass for his successor, and congratulations to both him and Laurie as they consider their next act. Michael McRobbie has made us all Indiana proud.”

In his announcement, McRobbie extended thanks and credit to his counterparts at IU saying, “All these accomplishments — and many more — are not a one-person show. They are the collective product of the hard and unremitting work of IU’s outstanding senior leaders, the strong support of superb faculty who have embraced change, engaged and talented students who have and will continue to go on to become leaders in their chosen fields, and exceptional staff whose professionalism and dedication have been the linchpin of so many of our successes.”

More from Indiana University on McRobbie’s tenure as president:

Under McRobbie’s leadership, IU faculty, staff and students have been on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with the Indiana State Department of Health, IU is conducting a study to measure the spread of the novel coronavirus among Hoosiers.

Researchers have tested thousands for viral infections and antibodies. IU and IU Health are also partnering on a comprehensive effort to provide screening, testing and management of COVID-19 for the 140,000 IU faculty, staff and students at all locations across the state.

His major accomplishments include:

• Ensuring an IU education remains affordable and accessible, with 75 percent of IU students being Hoosiers and a quarter of students coming from minority backgrounds. During McRobbie’s tenure, IU has also pioneered path-breaking student financial literacy programs that are national models and have resulted in savings to students of more than $138 million since 2011.

• Overseeing the most comprehensive academic transformation in the university’s history, with new schools and programs in multiple areas including public health, international studies, architecture and engineering.

• Reaffirming IU’s commitment to diversity and equity. For three consecutive years, IU’s student body has included more than 20,000 degree-seeking minority students, setting a new record for diversity at the university and representing nearly a doubling of the number of minority students at IU since 2007.

• Advancing IU’s leadership in health sciences education and research and business education in close partnership with IU Health, and facilitating several major investments in public health. These investments include the Grand Challenges initiative and the new IU Health Regional Academic Health Center on the Bloomington campus, which are addressing Indiana’s most critical health and wellness challenges.

• Overseeing the renovation of nearly all major buildings across IU, the development of new buildings and structures, and the completion of the IU Bloomington athletics masterplan.

• Rejuvenating and expanding IU’s international engagement through new partnerships with leading international universities, five new IU Global Gateway offices around the world and the establishment of new IU Alumni Association chapters in all 30 of IU’s carefully selected priority countries. McRobbie has also prioritized study abroad for all IU students. IU Bloomington ranks in the top 10 in number of students who study abroad, and today about a third of its students have participated in overseas study by the time they have graduated.

• Overseeing the largest fundraising campaign in IU’s history and one of the largest ever by a public university. The $3 billion For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign has supported 5,700 new endowed undergraduate and graduate scholarships and fellowships — a 45 percent increase over the previous nearly 100 years.

• Continuing IU’s leadership in information technology and supercomputing with the acquisition of Big Red II and Big Red 200. One of the fastest university-owned supercomputers in the nation, Big Red 200 is supporting advanced research in AI, machine learning, and scientific and medical research.

• Establishing, in 2012, the pioneering IU Online program, which provides an authentically IU experience with courses and degrees taught by IU faculty and that are an extension of the IU curriculum.

• Continuing and strengthening IU’s longstanding commitment to excellence in the arts and humanities. The New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities seed funding program, launched in 2004 with the support of a Lilly Endowment grant, has invested nearly $13 million in projects involving over 530 faculty members across the state.

• Leading the university through its recently completed Bicentennial Year celebration.

More on Indiana University’s First Lady Laurie Burns McRobbie:

IU first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie has joined McRobbie as an active ambassador for the university and its extensive global alumni community. A technologist in higher education for more than 25 years, she has focused on initiatives in technology, STEM, philanthropy and the growing influence of women in these areas. 

She is a founder of the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council at the IU Foundation and serves as its honorary chair. She also founded the Serve IT Nonprofit Technology Clinic, played a central role in the establishment of the IU Center of Excellence for Women and Technology in Bloomington, and serves on the boards of several organizations in Bloomington and Indianapolis, and as a commissioner on the Indiana Arts Commission.

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