Our University was in the midst of a year of observing its Bicentennial – when the coronavirus brought the celebrations to a halt. The pandemic has blown the institution temporarily off course. But IU is durable. We Hoosiers are resilient. The course we must now chart will shape our third century.
What was once carved in limestone will need to be adapted for 21st-century demands. Success will require trustee governance with both an appreciation for our rich traditions and a willingness to re-think models and assumptions that have served us since our university’s founding.
Rebounding will require hard decisions. As we reopen our campuses across Indiana, we’ll be challenged to re-think how we deliver many elements of an IU education. We’ll have to move quickly -- while retaining our commitments to excellence and equity.
We must do this while identifying IU’s future leaders. As the McRobbie administration sunsets, we must contend with the departure of several other key administrators. While our next president and provost will select their teams, our trustees will advise and approve these senior appointments. The trustees’ selection of the best university leaders will be crucial.
American higher education faces a pending enrollment cliff. Universities will have to manage through a projected cycle of declining enrollments, given the sharply smaller demographic segment of high school-aged students. This trend will especially challenge our regional campuses. They’re crucial to their communities, and to the affordable and accessible delivery of an IU education.
Enrollment declines will challenge the university’s financial abilities to continue its excellence in faculty, staff, facilities, and the delivery of high quality academics. Our core campuses will have to compete for the best and brightest students as never before. Well thought-out decisions must prevail to keep the cost of an IU education within reach, while preserving its quality.
Alumni in this election have the responsibility to choose the person best prepared to help IU overcome these three big challenges at our doorstep.
I am prepared: I know our campuses. I studied at Bloomington, and serve on the Executive Dean’s board of the College of Arts & Sciences. I represented IUPUI when I was a member of the Indianapolis City-County Council, and serve on Chancellor Paydar’s board. I’ve spoken with students, faculty and staff at all of our regional campuses.
As National Chairman of your Alumni Association, I led IUAA through a challenging period, when we were nearly consolidated into the IU Foundation as its annual giving arm. We emerged with our independence and historic mission intact.
I’ve grown a successful company that I founded right out of college. I employ people and operate across five states. I’ve applied the lessons learned in my own business to bigger, public organizations.
I’ve served as an IU Health Bloomington board member, and have a deep understanding of the complexities of our Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Dentistry -- and their relationship with the vast IU Health system. I’m versed in the mammoth downtown Indy hospital campus redevelopment project that’s about to commence.
I have served twice on the Indianapolis City-County Council, and learned how to evaluate, adopt and manage within the constraints of an always-tight $1billion+ municipal budget. I’ve listened and responded to constituents -- as I would do as your trustee.
My wife Mary (BA ’88) and I understand the importance of alumni financial support of IU and its students. We’ve worked to create 32 scholarships to help IU students fund their educations.
We’re invested members of our Varsity Club, the Well House Society, the Friends of Music, and the President’s Circle.
There will be much talk of cost-cutting over the years ahead. It will be a necessity. But a reflexive approach to it, without a deep understanding of the many multi-year investments we’ve made into our university’s programs, will be short sighted and costly.
There may be calls for a retrenchment from IU’s engagement abroad. I will oppose this. Student opportunities to develop a global perspective as part of their education are an enriching and differentiating element of an IU education. We cannot afford to walk away from our long-term investments in relationships beyond Indiana’s borders.
If elected, I’d succeed Pat Shoulders, our longest serving trustee. His departure represents the loss of much experience. I hope to lend my experience, and am eager to learn and serve, much as Pat has these past 19 years. Pat’s been a strong, independent voice on your board of trustees. I will continue that tradition.
I’ve attended all of our trustees’ meetings for the past several years. I’m prepared to hit the ground running on July 1st.
About 2% of our alumni cast a vote in trustee elections. Likely fewer read to the end of these candidate statements. Thank you for reading mine! I humbly ask for your vote.
Contact me at Jefferson@Shreve.org