Setting the Pace in Indy
Indiana’s capital city hosted the NACUBO 2013 Annual Meeting, where business officers completed some victory laps in learning about the innovations vital to today’s higher education institutions.
The following NACUBO staff members and consultants contributed to this report: Mary Bachinger, Liz Clark, Deborah Cumbo, Jeanne Cure, Bryan Dickson, Barbara DiRocco, Sally Grans-Korsh, Anne Gross, Matt Hamill, Amy Hemphill, Karla Hignite, Sue Menditto, Derek Price, Randy Roberson, Carole Schweitzer, Bob Shea, Maryann Terrana, Preeti Vasishtha, Dorothy Wagener, and Tadu Yimam. Photographs by Rodney Choice, Choice Photography
While it is probably best known for its motor speedway, Indianapolis was our choice for this year's meeting because it exemplifies the spirit of creativity and innovation," said John Walda, NACUBO president and CEO, at the opening general session of the NACUBO 2013 Annual Meeting. "Its eight local universities have helped fuel the region's economic growth in health care, life sciences, and technology."
Following on the heels of last year's 50th anniversary celebration, NACUBO's 43rd annual meeting drew a total of 2,389 attendees and exhibitors. Of the total, 1,410 were full conference registrants, 281 were attending their first annual meeting, and 35 came from 16 other countries.
"Using collaborative staff and member efforts," said Walda, "we delved into the annual meeting theme of 'Driving Innovation,' seeking the forces that are influencing major changes in higher education. We were able to identify five drivers of such innovation that can help inform campus leaders as to establishing their institutions' priorities."
The single-issue edition of the July-August Business Officer covers in depth each of the drivers: changing curricular needs, stretching campus boundaries, global challenges, public perception, and changing demographics. "You'll find," said Walda, "that these drivers are woven into the sessions you'll be attending during the next few days."
Further illuminating innovation's role in higher education, Charles Bantz, chancellor since 2003 of Indiana University–Purdue University (IUPUI), Indianapolis, summarized some of the long-term projects inspired by the needs and goals of both the university and state government. "We're a fiscally solid and conservative state," said Bantz, "and the state cannot borrow money. Yet Indiana has managed to achieve one of the most sustained growth rates, especially in terms of business innovation."
What's the secret? "We have a long history of commitment to collaboration and risk taking," explained Bantz. "Every year, Eli Lilly spends $5 million in research—and most of it doesn't work." Similarly, he said, the state's leaders took tremendous risks when devising a long-term plan to guide its future. The goals, said Bantz, "were to build on our sports base and develop tourism, infrastructure, and targeted industries. It was a conscious, innovative strategy."
As far as academic innovation, one of the keys, said Bantz, was to focus on clusters of economic opportunity. In a state that ranked quite low in its population's health, for example, life sciences and health care were obvious choices. "We've developed 12 program areas to support our goals," said Bantz, including IUPUI's Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health. And a 25-year sustained effort resulted in the nation' first school of philanthropy, recently dedicated to the Lilly family.
In the end, said Bantz, "Academic innovation is the best way we can use our contributions for the benefit of society."
The meeting's opening event the night before highlighted another Indianapolis achievement, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. Attendees enjoyed a demonstration of native dancing in an outdoor courtyard and were free to visit the museum's exhibits, which included works by artists such as N.C. Wyeth, Georgia O'Keeffe, Frederic Remington, and Kay WalkingStick. The institution's contemporary native art collection has been ranked among the world's best.
Continuing the spirit of innovation, this year's annual meeting introduced a virtual conference component for those unable to attend in person, with 15 live video sessions on Tuesday, July 16. Forty-six colleges and universities signed up for the online event. Also new was programming designed in partnership with the NCAA to meet the needs of athletics business officers.