Chancellor Nasser Paydar’s 2020 State of the Campus Address Recap

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IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar gave his annual State of the Campus address to students, faculty, and staff to wrap up the 2020 fall semester. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the address was given through a zoom webinar. 

Chancellor Paydar began by giving a word of gratitude to Indiana University President Michael McRobbie, who is retiring in June of 2021 after serving as president since 2007. President McRobbie was known for his vision of tying university history and tradition together, as well as building a path to further the university's institution. Additional opportunities to celebrate president McRobbie’s accomplishments during his tenure will be expressed throughout the year.

The chancellor followed his word of gratitude to president McRobbie by recapping the last four years of IUPUI’s campus after the 2016 Election. 

“Depending on who gets elected, the next four years for our country will look dramatically different,” Paydar said during his first address four years ago. 

“What will remain the same is the value of higher education to our students who will be living, learning, and earning in an increasingly global environment. To best serve these students, we in higher education must continue to focus on our strategic priorities.”

He believes that throughout the past four years, IUPUI has remained firm in committing to strategic priorities of fostering student success, advancing health and life sciences, and contributing to the community.
Paydar also commended the campus for being nationally recognized for civic engagement, as well as the high numbers of IUPUI students who are registered to vote and casted their ballots in this year's election. 

“I look forward to seeing what this new administration will bring for our nation’s leadership,” Paydar said. 

The university's response to the COVID-19 was also highlighted in the chancellor’s address. Shifting to faculty working remotely, students receiving prorated refunds on housing, dining, parking, and other fees, and developing testing, tracing, isolation, and quarantine programs have been vital to keep a low positivity rate of COVID-19 throughout the campus. 

To prepare and combat a potential financial crisis caused by the pandemic, the university cut the budget 5%, implemented a hiring freeze, and placed restrictions on university-sponsored travel. These and other adjustments have been successful in making IUPUI both safe and prosperous throughout the coronavirus pandemic. 

Diversity, equity, and engagement has been an ongoing initiative under Chancellor Paydar and for the university as a whole. 

“The virus has not changed the fact that diversity and inclusion are among the core values of our campus. These values are woven into our strategic plan and guide our decision-making. Our work towards a more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming campus is ongoing,” he said. 

After the murder of George Floyd this past summer, Chancellor Paydar created an Action Committee under the leadership of Vice Chancellor Karen Dace to develop recommendations for the university that lead to anti-racist practices. 

In addition to the Action Committee, Paydar spoke about the establishment of the “Center for Africana Studies and Culture” established in October, as well as the “Through Their Eyes” scholarship available for students to apply for in January. This scholarship is to honor the descendants of those who were displaced by the expansion of IUPUI in 1969. The scholarship has been named in honor of the 2006 Black Student initiative by the Black Student Union at IUPUI, which aimed to advance efforts to achieve racial equity and inclusion on campus. 

These are vital investments in diversity, equity, and inclusion that strengthen the foundation upon which we will continue to build,” he said.

With a new year comes new leadership, and at the beginning of the new school year IUPUI introduced two deans who were selected after a very competitive search at the latter end of last semester. 

The first is Karen Bravo who is the new Dean of McKinney Law School. With this title of Dean of McKinney Law School, she is the first person of color and second woman to hold this position. Bravo assumed the position beginning on July 1. 

The second new dean is John DiTusa, Dean of the School of Science. DiTusa comes from Louisiana State University where he served as department chair and other leadership roles at Louisiana State before coming to IUPUI on August 1. 

The School of Liberal Arts is also welcoming Tami Eitle as their new dean beginning in January. Eitle received her master’s and doctorate degrees in Sociology from Indiana University and will be coming from Montana State University

Chancellor Paydar concluded his State of the Campus address with creating a sense of hope and unity that we will one day be able to return to normalcy, and that the new vaccines and treatment will help us win the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. 

“It will take time, but we have each other, we have hope, and we have the power of education.” 

To watch the full 2020 State of the Campus address, visit here

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