Colleagues Build the Institute

Collegiality and devotion to research and creative activity motivate Indiana University's many guest scholars and artists and their hosts to pursue projects that blend and challenge their expertise. IU created the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) to preserve and strengthen these notions and to help IU faculty members realize their research goals through collaboration and consultation with colleagues from around the world. It is not too surprising, therefore, to discover that a similar atmosphere of collegiality pervades the conversation among the three men who have helmed and shaped the IAS since its founding. A professor emeritus of marketing in the School of Business, current IAS Director James M. Patterson readily admits to being the so-called new kid on the block. The veterans are Roger G. Newton, a distinguished professor emeritus of physics and founding director of the IAS, and Henry H. H. Remak, a professor emeritus of Germanic studies, comparative literature, and West European studies, who served as director of the IAS after Newton. Patterson, who has been involved with the institute for more than ten years, took office in September 1994. He quips that Newton and Remak "keep me on the straight and narrow," yet adds that the two former directors "have been careful not to interfere." In a conference room in the Poplars Research and Conference Center on the Bloomington campus, which houses the IAS offices, the three men gather over lunch to discuss the evolution of the institute and their roles in creating it. Their affability toward one another is palpable. Each man listens thoughtfully to the others' comments, at times politely suggesting his own recollection or interpretation of past events. On occasion, all three overlap comments in laughter or, more often, two nod in quiet recognition of the other's statements or assessments. Love of learning is evident among them and is what led them to devote large amounts of time and energy to the institute and its ideals. It is not difficult to see how, nurtured by their concern, care, and differing leadership styles, the Institute for Advanced Study has managed to thrive and prosper while it has also changed and grown as a hallmark of higher learning at Indiana University.

As its most fundamental goal, the IAS supports research and creative activity in all areas and on all IU campuses. The mission statement that appeared in one of the institute's earliest brochures defines as its goal the ongoing support of research "that cuts across disciplinary and cultural boundaries . . . by inviting distinguished scientists, scholars, and artists from throughout the world to one or more of the IU campuses to work on specific projects with faculty and students." Recalling the early history of the IAS, Newton reveals the original tenor and incentive behind the formation of such an institute. In 1978 Newton was part of a group of titled IU professors who gathered informally to discuss their concern that the university's emphasis on research was not as strong as it should be. As a result, Newton notes, the titled professors decided to meet regularly to discuss this issue and possible solutions. Concurrently, several members of the group formed a steering committee that met with members of the Board of Trustees, key administrators, and then President John Ryan to explain their concern about lack of support for research and to suggest ways to improve matters. The steering committee proposed that the university form an institute for which advanced, research-based inquiry would be paramount. Equally important to the steering committee, Newton recalls, and Patterson and Remak concur, was securing funding to facilitate the plans and goals of the institute. The committee developed the name Institute for Advanced Study in 1979, although the Board of Trustees did not officially establish the institute until 1981.

Newton recalls that his first step as director of the new institute was to visit several similar institutes at other universities to see how they were functioning and to learn how closely they resembled or did not resemble what IAS members had in mind for IU. Newton explored institutes at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Wesleyan University; and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At the latter university, Newton explains, "people are appointed as fellows of that institute for a year or maybe sometimes for two or three . . . and they would then be either totally or partially released from teaching." Newton notes of this model that it was "the kind of thing I did not want to do because [such a system] would have exacerbated all the animosities against the institute [as too research-focused]." In the end, Newton's model for IU's institute came from Bielefeld, Germany, where, Newton says, yearlong appointments are made to bring together faculty to work on predetermined interdisciplinary themes.

While IU's program has never mirrored the Bielefeld model, Newton, Remak, and Patterson remember several attempts on the parts of institute organizers to plan IAS activities around periodic conference themes. "One of the ideas of the institute right from the start was to run conferences," Newton asserts, recalling that the 1983 inaugural conference, themed "The Future of the Research University," was highly successful and brought together a number of distinguished participants who interacted with key administrators and faculty. All three men agree that the second IAS conference, "Religion, Politics, and Morality," was exceptional and fit with the goals of the IAS. "The main idea of this institute," Newton states, "was to bring people from the outside to stimulate our own faculty."

There were opponents to the very idea of creating an Institute for Advanced Study. Newton recalls vividly that not all the key administrators were supportive from the beginning and that many had no sympathy for the notion of the institute. Having the luxury of viewing from a distance the trials of the former IAS directors, Patterson suggests that opposition to the establishment of the institute was "not as much a philosophical difference as one of dollars and cents." Money devoted to the IAS was seen as money that could be spent on departments and schools. Fortunately, Newton says, the IU Foundation did allocate $100,000 in seed money, which, along with support from President John Ryan, sustained the program for its first several years. Yet Newton is quick to add, with humor, "it did not mollify some of the people to hear that the money would come from the IU Foundation."

From 1982 to 1986, while Newton was director of the IAS, the institute's primary frustration was bringing in funding from the outside. Newton, Remak, and Patterson all agree that as directors, the greatest challenge all along has been to secure funding to ensure the future of the IAS. By 1986 the institute had nearly exhausted its funds when Newton declined a second term as IAS director. For the next two years, the institute was "in limbo," says Remak, who became acting director in 1987. Remak did not begin his official directorial duties until March 1988, the same academic year that Thomas Ehrlich became president of Indiana University. Remak, who served as director until September 1994, when Patterson took over, contends, "My basic idea was that no institute . . . would survive unless it had a unique profile . . . . We had to have an identity." To that end, Remak began to place primary emphasis on expanding the External Academic Fellowship program, which brings distinguished scholars, scientists, and artists to IU to work with IU faculty on their ongoing research projects.

During Remak's term, the IAS also developed the Distinguished Citizen Fellows program and, in 1989, named former Governor Otis Bowen as its first citizen fellow. Since then, Bowen has visited all eight of the IU campuses and some more than once. Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-Indiana) is the current IAS Distinguished Citizen Fellow. The IAS also supports visiting scholars who come to IU to use the library and other resources and to interact with IU faculty.

Since his appointment in 1994, Patterson has been stretching his wings and making some changes at the institute. "I wanted to broaden the base of the faculty [participating and nominating fellows] from about seventy-five to perhaps four hundred," he asserts. While clearly pleased and grateful for the hard work and visions of the two directors who have gone before him, Patterson readily admits that he "came in with some different programming." He explains, "I wanted to inspire faculty discourse again, . . . and I was also concerned to try to institute more formal disciplinary occasions." Since beginning his tenure at the IAS, Patterson has run two faculty forums and supported the establishment of a faculty seminar series on cultural theory. He is especially enthusiastic to have seminars that spark interest in key areas and catalyze the enthusiasm faculty and students often have for visiting scholars and researchers. Patterson is adamant about using whatever space is available on campus to house and facilitate faculty scholarship. He admits frankly, "I regard nothing as more wasteful than an empty office." Consequently, the IAS board is currently exploring new strategies for bringing teams of IU faculty members to the institute to work on joint research projects.

Patterson also hopes to engage more fully the Society for Advanced Study, a group of concerned faculty and members of the general public who promote and support the institute. Newton recalls, "Since getting external funding was so difficult . . . the idea was to have the Society for Advanced Study to attract a group of people who would make regular contributions to the institute and create a climate of public support for research and creative activity." A pragmatist, Patterson recalls of his first days heading the institute, "I saw the society as something I should spend time with."

Graciously referring to Newton and Remak, both sitting on his right side and clearly in support of his philosophy of building upon their hard work and efforts through the years, Patterson says "I think we need to be careful not to hurt the thing that makes it work, the central focus on bringing external fellows to IU." All three have a strong interest in what they must see as a child, or, at the very least, a pet project that they have nurtured and blessed. While they are no longer direct the IAS, both Newton and Remak remain active members in the Society for Advanced Study and both men frequent the Poplars building often. Newton edits the Journal of Mathematical Physics down the hall from the IAS offices, and Remak, who teaches in the Honors Division, still receives his mail at the IAS offices. The ease with which all three describe the institute's long and varied evolution reveals their intense and collective desire to ensure its longevity. They clearly enjoy sharing tales with one another and working, although not always side by side, to see that the Institute for Advanced Study continues to flourish.

--Mary Cox Barclay