IUPUI is a school with few parallels. Two universities on one campus that’s in the middle of a city; hard to miss, but easy to overshadow. On Tuesday, Nov. 1, Chancellor Nasser Paydar gave the state of the campus address from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. and reminded the campus that IUPUI has come far and will not stop reaching anytime soon.
The audience consisted of those specially invited, marked by nametags with red ribbons, and those who simply sat in attendance. Aptly named “red ribbon” guests were listed within the programs and included students, faculty, and alumni and community members.
Students within the red ribbon audience represented a number of organizations, schools, and scholarships; faculty were a mix of active and retired, but all held notable positions or were award winners.
After a brief introduction by Rachel Applegate, an associate professor here at IUPUI, Paydar began the address by welcoming the attendees, particularly the red ribbon guests. After that, he thanked individuals from Purdue University for coming.
“My remarks come at a crucial time for our country and our campus,” he said before launching into the main points of his speech. He touched on a variety of subjects, including such topics as online classes how IUPUI impacts the Indianapolis community.
Paydar described the current freshman class as the “largest and most talented” ever. It is also a more diverse class, with a 40 percent increase in African American students, 20.4 percent increase in Asian students, and a 13.2 percent increase in Latino students. Seven percent of all students are international and representing 145 countries.
Diversifying the campus in both student and faculty was a major talking point. A task for recruitment and retention of staff and students of color has been developed, and a new faculty leadership team will include the associate vice chancellor for faculty diversity and inclusion position.
Over the course of the hour, Paydar touched on how IUPUI has changed and how it will continue to do so in the future. In 2007, only eight percent of students live on campus; today, almost half do. This past May was IUPUI’s first graduation ceremony in the Lucas Oil Stadium, in which 7,000 degrees were given out. IUPUI’s upcoming 50th anniversary was mentioned as well.
Money, especially money that enters the school, was a consistent theme. A large thank-you went to scholarship donors in the audience and those who were part of research and study groups.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) gave large sums to broaden STEM classes and research. The Empowering Informatics Diversity Enhanced Workforce programs was given $4 million; the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation programs took $4.8 million. Overall, there has been a 15 percent increase in research awards, placing IUPUI at $40.5 million now.
“I was just amazed at all the different research projects and new programs that they’re trying to implement here,” Alexis Redden, a freshman neuroscience major, said. “I’m excited to see where things will go from here and what students and faculty will accomplish in the future.”
One of the most significant announcements was that of the welcoming campus initiative, a future project that will receive $1 million to make IUPUI more inclusive and its students more productive. It follows the logic that a physical environment directly impacts a person’s work. Individual projects within the school will be granted $25,000.
“Clearly, this is far more than a beautification project,” Paydar said. More information about the initiative will be released shortly. Suggestions for potential projects may be given at chancellor.iupui.edu, although the website is currently malfunctioning.
“To be completely honest, I’m excited about [the welcoming campus initiative],” Hannah Wilson, a freshman pre-med student, said. “With me being a campus ambassador, I would love new ways to welcome incoming students and prospective students.”
Just before the address concluded, the audience previewed a commercial about IUPUI that will begin airing after the Presidential election. It ran for about a minute and showed actual IUPUI students, as well as shots of the Regatta race and a number of programs IUPUI is known for.
“I really like the message of ‘here at IUPUI, we will show you what you can do, instead of telling you what you can’t do,’” Redden said. “I’m curious to see if that’ll bring the enrollment numbers up in years to come.”