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Robel to step down as IU Bloomington provost, return to faculty

From Indiana University – Bloomington:

Lauren Robel, who has served as provost of Indiana University Bloomington and executive vice president of IU since 2012, will return to the faculty and step down from her executive roles on June 30th.

Lauren Robel, Provost, IU – Bloomington. Photo courtesy Indiana University.

As the chief academic officer of IU’s flagship campus, she has led work to build on IU Bloomington’s more than two centuries of major achievements in education, research, and the arts and humanities, and to further the positive impact the campus has on the communities it serves.

Robel, a nationally recognized leader in legal education, is the Val Nolan Professor of Law in the Maurer School of Law, where she served as dean from 2002 to 2011 and as associate dean from 1991 to 2002. She is a summa cum laude graduate of the Maurer School and has been a faculty member at the school since 1985.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie will announce an interim provost by the end of next week, to serve from July 1st until a new IU president determines how they want to fill the position permanently.

“We are immensely grateful to Lauren for extraordinary efforts on behalf of the Bloomington campus and of Indiana University, not just in her current positions, but in all the positions she has held at IU since 1985,” McRobbie said. “It has been a glittering record of sustained achievement and excellence.

“In my over 40 years in academia, Lauren has been one of the finest colleagues I have ever known. Her intelligence, integrity, decency, prodigious work ethic and creativity put her in a class of her own. She deserves the most grateful thanks of all of us for her service to Indiana University, and we all wish her the very best for her future endeavors.”

As IU Bloomington provost, Robel leads a campus of more than 42,000 students, about 3,000 faculty and 6,000 staff. The campus is one of just 65 members of the prestigious Association of American Universities, which is composed of North America’s leading research universities.

“It has been a tremendous privilege and honor to serve as IU Bloomington provost for the past many years,” Robel said. “I couldn’t love this place more, or believe more strongly in the importance of what we do and the level of excellence and collegiality at which we do it. It is now time for me to return to the academic work that is the greatest joy at the center of our mission.”

McRobbie credited Robel for playing a key role in many of the most important initiatives and developments on the IU Bloomington campus during the past decade, including a complete overhaul of nearly every aspect of student administration and student life; an increase of over 50% in minority student numbers and programs to support them; the creation of several dozen new degrees and academic programs; and the recruitment of deans and other senior administrators as well as hundreds of new faculty. Many of these efforts were part of a strategic planning process, initiated by Robel in 2013, to reimagine and invigorate academic programs across the Bloomington campus in anticipation of the IU Bicentennial in 2020.

Robel was intimately involved in the establishment and development of six new schools on the Bloomington campus: the School of Public Health-Bloomington; the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Affairs; the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering; the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design; and The Media School. Each of these schools has opened up extensive new opportunities for students and faculty scholarship and research.

Additionally, Robel led an initiative — working in conjunction with IU Health — to consolidate IU Bloomington’s programs in medical sciences, nursing, social work, and speech, language and hearing sciences in the new Health Sciences Building, which is collocated with the new IU Health Bloomington Hospital. The initiative will allow these programs to grow and produce more graduates in these in-demand areas.

Robel has overseen the establishment of several major initiatives designed to focus IU Bloomington’s vast expertise and resources on improving the health, wellness and economic vitality of communities in the southwest region of the state where the campus is located. These include the Center for Rural Engagement, established in 2018, which has quickly become a national model for how universities can support the needs of and address the challenges facing rural residents and communities.

To date, the Center for Rural Engagement has launched 235 projects in 40 Indiana counties to meet challenges in such areas as health, education, housing, the arts and culture, business and innovation, community resilience, and leadership development. IU Corps, a branch of the center, has brought together faculty and staff from all of IU Bloomington’s schools to work with community partners on these challenges. Since its formation, the center has mobilized more than 4,900 IU students to help Hoosier communities.

As a result of the strategic plan, the campus created the Arts & Humanities Council. Robel charged the council with making undergraduate engagement with the campus’s rich resources in these areas inevitable and inspiring.

The Arts & Humanities Council created all-campus arts and humanities events, such as the First Thursdays program and the Global Remixed festivals celebrating India, China, Mexico and Indiana. The council is also integral to the quality-of-place initiatives of the Center for Rural Engagement, and it has established a vibrant new home on campus in the Gayle Karch Cook Center for the Public Arts and Humanities in Maxwell Hall.

Under Robel’s leadership, IU Bloomington has become more diverse and inclusive. Overall, underrepresented students now constitute more than a quarter of the campus’s total degree-seeking population, 26.2%.

The campus has also been recognized multiple times with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award from Insight Into Diversity magazine. This is the only national award honoring U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion through their innovative programs and outreach; hiring practices for faculty and staff; and student recruitment, retention and completion. In 2020, for the fourth year, IU Bloomington was also named a Diversity Champion, Insight Into Diversity’s highest distinction.

Additionally, Robel has worked to solidify IU Bloomington’s reputation as a renowned international partner for collaborative research and academic initiatives, as well as a preferred destination for undergraduate and graduate students from around the globe. During her tenure as provost, she traveled to Brazil, Chile, South Korea and Taiwan to explore new partnerships and reaffirm existing partnerships with leading universities in those nations.

She played a major role in the establishment of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, which consists of all of the Big Ten provosts and which she presently chairs. She has also served as president of the Association of American Law Schools.

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