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Keeping an enduring promise to our graduates

By Myles Brand, President of Indiana University

During the first half of May, more than 14,000 Indiana University students will receive their degrees at eight commencement ceremonies around the state. (See 2002 commencement)

Each of those success stories is an individual one. But the graduates share some common characteristics. Their diplomas represent years of hard work and commitment. Many graduates will continue their commitment to their alma mater in future years, through membership in the IU Alumni Association and through gifts of time and resources.

That sense of lasting responsibility must work both ways. As a university, IU must fulfill its obligation to today’s students to provide them a first-class college education, while also making an enduring promise to our graduates. In one year, five years, 10, 20 or more, that IU degree will be a passport. When we talk about “Quality Education, Lifetime Opportunities,” that’s the understanding. An IU degree provides benefits long after the graduate takes his or her last class.

IU can only keep its side of that bargain by maintaining the university’s reputation for academic excellence. When a potential employer looks at the line on a resume that says “IU graduate, 2002,” we want it to send the same message in 2012, 2022 and beyond that it sends today.

That requires continued investment. A university’s academic reputation and the positive educational experiences of its students depend on its faculty. We must continue to support faculty members as they build and maintain the highest quality programs. Similarly, if our university is to provide economic leadership and prepare students for 21st-century jobs in emerging fields, we must stay current on the latest technology.

Those considerations and many others went into our recent decision to increase tuition on the Bloomington and IUPUI campuses by 9 percent for the next academic year. Regional campuses will see an 8 percent tuition increase. While those increases were smaller (in some cases, much smaller) than those of many of our peer institutions, this was not an easy decision. We recognize that students and their parents will feel the impact.

But the state’s poor financial situation—which has resulted in more than $100 million in budget reductions and delayed payments to IU—has left us with two difficult choices: either allow the institution’s quality to suffer, or ask students to pay more. To keep faith with today’s students and tomorrow’s, we cannot in good conscience allow the value of an IU degree to erode.

What’s on your mind? E-mail President Brand at:

The president periodically records editorial commentaries for Indiana radio stations. Hear his May commentary, “Indiana’s Opportunity,” in an audiostream:

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Publication date: April 26, 2002
Copyright 2000, The Trustees of Indiana University