May 1997


During our commencement ceremonies this month at the RCA Dome, Marianne Stephens brought to 100,000 the number of graduates from IUPUI schools and programs living throughout the world. This is more than a numerical milestone -- some 70 percent of our graduates reside in Indiana, and they make a significant impact on the social and economic vitality of our state. Marianne is a good example. She earned her bachelor's degree in physical education while working as director of health and physical education at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis, and plans to return to IUPUI for her master's degree. Marianne's drive to better herself and her community is shared by many of our alumni. Indeed, of the 40 men and women under age 40 cited this month by the Indianapolis Business Journal as outstanding civic, business and community leaders, nine are graduates of IUPUI. I was particularly pleased that five of the IBJ's 40 were students at the IU School of Law-Indianapolis when I was dean: State Sen. J. Murray Clark, a partner with Clark Quinn Moses & Clark; Ellen Engleman, executive director of Electricore; G. Frederick Glass, a partner with Baker & Daniels and P. Karl Hass, who chairs that law firm's real estate team; and Mary E. Solada, a partner with Bingham Summers Welsh and Spilman. I knew them as students and had the honor of teaching most of them in courses I offered. They succeeded despite this distraction.

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Five outstanding citizens earned honorary degrees from IUPUI at our commencement. Tom Binford, whose volunteer activities in central Indiana are legendary, was awarded a Doctor of Laws degree from IU. Ernest G. Heppner, an electronics pioneer and author who wrote about his experiences as a young Jewish refugee in Japanese-occupied Shanghai during World War II, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from IU.

Doris Merritt, whose four decades at IUPUI include leadership roles at both the IU School of Medicine and the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Purdue. Former U.S. Rep. John Myers, who served Indiana with distinction for three decades and was instrumental in securing funding for our Cancer Research Institute and the Indiana Cancer Pavilion, earned an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from IU. Dr. Andrew Thomson Jr., a distinguished physician and educator who was instrumental in the IU School of Medicine's $211 million capital campaign last year, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from IU.

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Eugene R. Tempel, vice chancellor for external affairs at IUPUI, will succeed University of Notre Dame President Rev. Edward A. Malloy as chairman of the Indiana Commission on Community Service and Volunteerism. The commission oversees state and federal volunteer efforts in Indiana and plays an important role in linking college students with community service efforts. One of Gene's first jobs as chairman was to join the delegation led by Indiana's First Lady Judy O'Bannon to Philadelphia for the President's Summit for America's Future. The national focus on volunteer service and community activism highlighted by the summit again shows that IUPUI is in the right place at the right time. The IU Center on Philanthropy, represented at the summit by Paula Parker-Sawyers, brings a decade of scholarship on voluntary action for the public good to this important national issue. Gene's appointment to the commission positions IUPUI to bring our strong tradition of community service to volunteer and community service efforts throughout Indiana and the nation.

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A proposal for an IU Center on Aging Research Excellence at IUPUI will receive funding from a Strategic Directions Charter grant. Estimates suggest that one in six Hoosiers will be age 65 or older by 2000, highlighting the importance of research on aging. This interdisciplinary effort among IU's schools of medicine, nursing, allied health sciences, dentistry, optometry, social work and potentially many other programs and departments at IUPUI should produce important discoveries and help improve the quality of life for older adults, both here and across the nation.

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IUPUI has been selected to participate in a $600,000 research project called "Restructuring for Urban Success: Learning Communities on the Urban Campus" funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Working with our peers at Portland State University, Temple University and the University of Houston, we will develop new models to support the achievement and persistence of urban university students. This project addresses the fact that the majority of America's college students are now "non-traditional" students who balance academics with work, family and community activities. IUPUI has emerged as a national leader in serving students within the urban environment by offering a full range of academic and support programs. But we can do better. We look forward to working with our peer universities to develop new programs that address the changing nature of American higher education and provide new strategies for student success. Our thanks to the Pew Charitable Trusts, a leader in national and international philanthropy, for selecting us to join in this project.

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This month we named 34 men and women, drawn from our existing schools and programs, to the faculty of the new University College. They will set the standards, expectations and culture of what is certain to be our most important program in anticipation of a new era of student-centered learning at IUPUI. A search has begun for a dean, associate dean, and assistant dean of the college. By serving as an academic common ground for undergraduate learning, University College will provide our students with the tools they need for sustained success and achievement. It will be a key component in ensuring that the first-year student retention rate at IUPUI equals or exceeds the national rate of 70 percent within the next five years.

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Universities play an important role in the interpretation and analysis of public policy. At IUPUI, the Center for Urban Policy and the Environment recently assisted state lawmakers, local officials and citizens on the Indiana Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations in publishing a comprehensive report on the general condition of child welfare programs in Indiana. The report takes on added significance in light of welfare reform at the federal level that is delegating greater authority than ever before to state and local governments. Among the report's findings are that child abuse and neglect cases increased more than 105 percent between 1985 and 1995, and that, from 1985 to 1993, the increase in these cases went up 89 percent in Indiana compared to 59 percent nationally. In addition, from 1994 to 1995, child welfare costs increased 13 percent, while all other welfare expenses decreased by 22 percent.

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Using sophisticated lasers and dyes, researchers at the IU School of Medicine have developed an accurate way to measure blood flow to the optic disc and nerve -- areas of the eye damaged by glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness in the United States. The discovery by Dr. Alon Harris, director of the IU Glaucoma Research and Diagnostic Center, and his team of researchers could revolutionize glaucoma treatment by helping physicians pinpoint damage and treat it with medications that stimulate blood flow. The finding may also prove vital to treatment of other eye diseases, including those associated with diabetes and AIDS.

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IUPUI was proud to welcome the nearly 20,000 participants running in the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon through our campus earlier this month and we are also honored to help put finishing touches on this special month in Indianapolis by participating in the 500 Festival Parade, which will feature our Formula Lightning electric race car and the IUPUI Calliope. We hope all of you have a safe and happy Memorial Day holiday.

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Gerald L. Bepko, Chancellor