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Office of the President, Michael A. McRobbie

President McRobbie speaking at the podium

Inauguration of the School of Informatics and Computing

Whittenberger Auditorium
IU Bloomington
Bloomington, Indiana
September 27, 2013

Introduction: The Information Age Mindset

More than a decade ago, in an article titled “The Information Age Mindset” in EDUCAUSE Review, Jason Frand, then of the Anderson School of Management at UCLA, wrote that “the world in which we all live has changed, and thus the content we teach must change. The industrial age has become the information age, and thus the way we organize our institutions must change, as must the meaning we attach to the terms ‘student,’ ‘teacher,’ and ‘alumni.’ The challenge will be,” Frand continued, “for educators and higher education institutions to incorporate the information-age mindset of today’s learners into our programs.”1

Today, we gather to celebrate the latest Indiana University initiative that recognizes the fact that, in the information age, we must indeed change way we organize our institution and the content we teach: the merger of the School of Library and Information Science and the School of Informatics and Computing.

IU’s Strengths in Informatics, Computing, and Library and Information Science

The information age, of course, has continued to evolve. As a result of the rapid and increasing pace of that evolution, the connections between programs that study information and those that study computation have become closer and more important than ever.

Jason Frand’s article appeared as the cover story of EDUCAUSE Review in the fall of 2000, the very year that IU’s School of Informatics was founded. The school’s establishment added a new dimension to technology education and inter-disciplinary research at IU. Not only was it the first school of its kind in the United States, it was also, at the time, the first new school at IU Bloomington in more than 25 years. That fall, the first classes were offered on both the Bloomington and IUPUI campuses. Two years later, in 2002, the school hired its first full professor and conferred its first degrees. Within another few years, the school would offer the nation’s first Ph.D. in Informatics, and would go on to offer one of the first master’s degrees in cybersecurity. In 2005, again in response to the ever-changing world of information and technology, IU combined the Computer Science Department—which was founded in 1971 and is a field of long-standing excellence at IU—with the School of Informatics.

The School of Library and Information Sciences, of course, has an even longer history. Founded in 1951, the school has long been ranked among the very best of its kind in the nation. The school was ranked 8th nationally in the most recent US News and World Report rankings, and its programs for digital librarianship, information systems, and school library media are also ranked among the nation’s best.

Of course, one of our guiding principles in the process of aggregating the resources of the School of Library and Information Science and the School of Informatics into a larger, more effective, and more competitive school has been to ensure that we preserve the existing strengths of both of these very well regarded schools.

One of the Broadest and Largest Schools of its Kind

Until this fall, IU was the only member of the Association of American Universities, and, to the best of our knowledge, the only university in the world that had school or college level units in both informatics and computing and information science.

By combing the two programs, Indiana University now has the broadest and one of the largest schools of its kind in the United States, and likely in the world. In information technology as a broad academic discipline, breadth, size, and quality are all vital factors. As I said in my State of the University address one year ago, this merger is a large step forward toward our goal of building a school that can compete with Carnegie Mellon University, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, and the other best schools in this area.

The new school, of course, further strengthens opportunities for our students. The merger of the two schools has already enhanced opportunities for faculty and student research interactions across a number of areas where there had already been strong collaboration, including health informatics, human-computer interaction, large-scale data, network science, and social informatics.

And all of this also brings with it the prospect of increased technology transfer and economic development in an area ripe with entrepreneurial opportunities.

In the combined school, we will also see a multitude of ways that informatics and computing students can benefit from the expertise of information and library science faculty and curriculum.

In the coming years, our newly configured school will, I believe, become a model for informatics and information science programs across the nation.

Special Thanks

I would like to take a moment to recognize a number of people for the superb jobs they have done in shepherding the establishment of the new school.

The school we inaugurate today grows, in part, out of the 2011 report of the New Academic Directions Committee, which recommended ways to bring the university’s academic structure into the 21st century. Since the completion of that report, we have seen transformation of unprecedented scale and speed at IU. I again commend the members of the New Academic Direction Committee, and its co-chairs, IUPUI Chancellor Charles Bantz and former Bloomington Provost Karen Hanson.

I especially want to commend Chancellor Bantz, Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel, Informatics Dean Bobby Schnabel, and former School of Library and Information Science Dean Debora Shaw for their outstanding work in implementing the aggregation of these two strong schools.

I am delighted that, with the merger of the two schools, Professor Shaw has agreed to chair the new Department of Information and Library Science in Bloomington. Her service and contributions to the school as a faculty member, mentor, and administrator over the course of more than three decades has been invaluable. Would you join me in thanking Professor Shaw for her dedicated service to the school?

And finally, I commend the faculty of both schools on the IUPUI and Bloomington campuses. The process of transition to the new combined school had been made all the more smooth by their ongoing support.

Conclusion

As Jason Frand also wrote in EDUCAUSE Review, “most students entering our colleges and universities today are younger than the microcomputer, are more comfortable working on a keyboard than writing in a spiral notebook, and are happier reading from a computer screen than from paper in hand. …And they will be assuming responsibility in a world of incredibly rapid change.”2

Today, as we celebrate the inauguration of the School Informatics and Computing, we celebrate an initiative that will help Indiana University students to assume responsibility in a world of incredibly rapid change, and one that will allow Indiana University to continue to make important contributions to some of the most rapidly evolving academic fields.

Source Notes

  1. Jason L. Frand, “The Information Age Mindset: Changes in Students and Implications for Higher Education,” EDUCAUSE Review, September/October 2000, 15.
  2. Ibid.