The stories behind Commencement

It’s my favorite time of the year here in Btown.

Commencement. A time for taking selfies and smiling snapshots at the Sample Gates. Caps, gowns and the turning of the tassles. Hugs, handshakes and, yes, the hashtag. (In case you’re wondering, this year you can follow the festivities at #iubgrad15.)

Now in its 186th year, Commencement at IU Bloomington continues to be an expression of joy and achievement, as well as a chance for IU’s newest graduates to reflect on a remarkable accomplishment and what they’ll take from their college experience moving forward.

In the days leading up to commencement ceremonies, several outstanding graduating seniors agreed to share a little about their time at IU Bloomington, including their top memories, favorite spots on campus, the people and events that inspired them, the opportunities they were afforded to grow intellectually, culturally and socially, and their plans post graduation.

These “senior spotlights” showcase students from diverse backgrounds who have embraced a wide range of experiences inside and outside of the classroom, all of which have prepared them for a lifetime of success.

Members of the Class of 2015 took time to share their memories of their time at IU Bloomington.

Members of the Class of 2015 took time to share their memories of their time at IU Bloomington.

Listening to their stories is a wonderful reminder of what a special time commencement is in the lives of those who’ve captured the promise of IU and, in doing so, added to the storied traditions that make this university so great.

Congratulations and best wishes to the Class of 2015!

Her story

“She’s the pride of Indiana, Hail to old IU!”

For a university to make history, it has to have a powerful “her” story.

As Indiana University fast approaches its third century (in 2020), its Bloomington campus owes much of its achievement to the many remarkable women – from first ladies to first police chiefs to first business school deans – who have championed an environment of excellence and opportunity at IU.


“Her story” recognizes the exceptional impact women have had on shaping IU’s success.

In recognition of the exceptional impact women have had on shaping Indiana University’s success — and in conjunction with the annual Women’s History Month — the IU Newsroom is showcasing 15 women (for 2015) who reflect the trailblazing spirit, innovative thinking and Hoosier pride that have come to define what it means to be a woman at IU.

“Her story” offers glimpses into the individual stories of these 15 women who are working across a wide spectrum of disciplines and professions central to the continued growth of the Bloomington campus. Together, they represent the arts and culture, academia and administration, teaching, research and creative thinking, student support and security, technology and more.

“Her story” also highlights the past accomplishments of the Hoosier women who paved a path for the next generation of brilliant minds who are making their own mark at IU and beyond.

Of course, members of the IU Newsroom team knew going into this project that it would be nearly impossible to showcase every woman, past and present, whose work is woven into the fabric of excellence at IU. Nevertheless, it was clear that the overall story that continues to be written by IU women was simply too powerful, enlightening and inspiring not to share.

In true IU fashion, new chapters of that story continue to be written every day. For now, though, we hope you enjoy interacting with “Her story” and taking pride in the women who are making a major difference through their day-to-day work here in Bloomington.

For the glory of cold IU!

Let’s get it out of the way. It’s freaking cold out there.

How cold is it? It’s so cold I’m having flashbacks to traipsing through a foot of snow to get to class at my old college campus in Siberia … err …  Storrs, Connecticut. I also remember gliding across a field so frozen solid the old Hartford Whalers hockey team could’ve called it home.

You’ve got to admire the resiliency of Indiana University Bloomington students, faculty and staff, who are bracing Jack Frost’s latest chilling offering in good spirited fun. Never daunted, tried and true, and all for the #gloryofcoldIU — they’re refusing to let the cold win out as they carry on to class, work and other activities. Of course, a little hot chocolate, hot soup and the latest campus bus tracker always helps.

But don’t take my word for it. See and read how some members of the Hoosier community are choosing to find the beauty, inspiration and glory in their beloved, but icy cold, campus.

Picking up good vibrations

Some of my earliest music memories involve the Beach Boys — making the three-hour trip down from Connecticut to the Jersey Shore with my surfer dad, singing along to “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Surfin’ Safari” and “I Get Around”; watching, as a 7-year-old, the famed July 4, 1980, concert in which the group performed in front of a half-million fans at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.; and experiencing my first-ever live concert that same year at the Hartford Civic Center. I can still hear the hush that came over the crowd as Dennis Wilson, who would die tragically just a few years later, began to sing his classic cover of “You Are So Beautiful.”

The Beach Boys at the IU Jacobs School of Music. From L-R: Jeff Foskett, Bruce Johnston, Mike Love and Scott Totten.

The Beach Boys at the IU Jacobs School of Music, from left, Jeff Foskett, Bruce Johnston, Mike Love and Scott Totten.

As I grew older, I read just about everything I could about how Mike Love’s lyrics about surf, sun and fun, fun, fun beautifully complemented Brian Wilson’s majestic five-part harmonies. I dug out my dad’s old vinyl, beginning with greatest hits albums like “Endless Summer” and eventually gravitating to the genius of “Pet Sounds.” Like hardcore fans, I delighted in the arrival of the long-awaited “Smile” box set in 2011, and the following year’s 50th anniversary reunion tour, which featured founding members Love, Wilson and Al Jardine, along with later additions David Marks and Bruce Johnston.

So you could imagine the good vibrations I was feeling Sunday afternoon as I headed over to IU’s Jacobs School of Music, where students in senior lecturer Andy Hollinden’s “The Music of the Beach Boys” class braved the brisk Bloomington cold for a special event: a Q&A with Love, Johnston and their longtime Beach Boys tour mates Jeff Foskett and Scott Totten.

Over the course of 90 minutes, the Boys covered all types of topics, including their favorite songs to perform in concert (“California Girls” and “Good Vibrations” for Mike; “Warmth of the Sun” for Bruce), the thoughtful way they craft their concert set lists and the venues they most like playing (Royal Albert Hall, Sydney Opera House). They also discussed their friendly “competition” with the Beatles (Bruce: “There was no rivalry, just appreciation.”) and the changes in studio and touring technology that the teenage versions of themselves, who lugged their equipment to ballrooms across the Midwest, couldn’t have begun to imagine.

“The technology, the sound, the lights, all of it barely existed in the 1960s,” Love said.

Hollinden, known for his popular classes on rock ‘n’ roll legends Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix, began his Beach Boys course in 2012 while the group was celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Mike Love and Professor Andy Hollinden.

Mike Love and Andy Hollinden.

At the time he said, “To the casual listener of pop music, the Beach Boys conjures up images of surfing and cars and girls and California sunshine. And that’s all they know. They don’t realize that their music was incredibly sophisticated. Their musical maturity, artistic quality and production levels were, in America, unparalleled. The Beach Boys really were the chief rivals to the Beatles.”

Sunday night’s Beach Boys performance at IU Auditorium gave Hollinden’s students a special glimpse into what it’s like to be one of the most beloved bands in the world, to perform around 150 shows a year and to remain timeless, even as entirely new generations discover what made the Beach Boys so immensely popular when they burst onto the scene with their distinct vocal harmonies in 1961.

To illustrate the group’s ability to attract new fans and followers, Love told the story about a 10-year-old girl at a show in Kentucky whose favorite song was the classic car song and B-side “409.”

“It’s amazing how our songs can appeal, regardless of age,” he said.

Bruce Johnston and Mike Love of the Beach Boys.

Bruce Johnston and Mike Love of the Beach Boys.

For the college-age cohort, Love, Johnston, Foskett and Totten each extolled the virtues of becoming as knowledgeable as possible about the music business. “When I started, I didn’t know anything about publishing,” Love said, adding that both the Beach Boys and Beatles failed to retain publishing rights to their song catalog. “If you are serious about music, you should be knowledgeable about the music business.”

Though the class Q&A ended on a serious tone, it was clear that the music and making audiences happy mattered the most to the Beach Boys.

“It’s the audience response to our songs … the hobby became our profession, but it’s the appreciation of the people,” Love said. “[Our success] wouldn’t have happened unless there was an audience, a demand.”

Groundhog Day and the genius of IU students

This morning one of my much younger IU Newsroom colleagues asked me when I graduated from college, and when I answered “1994,” there was a brief moment when she looked like the groundhog who, earlier today, saw his shadow.

“Wow,” she said, “that’s over 20 years ago,” and suddenly I was the one who wanted to run back to his burrow.

Time has a way of passing quickly when you live and work in a college town like Bloomington. And yet looking on the sunny side on this dreary Groundhog Day, being part of such a vibrant, energetic, powerful place as IU Bloomington also keeps you feeling young.

I’ve written in this space before about how continually amazed I am by the people you stand next to in line for coffee every morning, many of whom, you come to find out, are world-renowned researchers and/or the best teachers around. Well, I can easily say the same thing about IU students, who, in their own right, are sometimes even more inspiring. Which brings me back to age and a question I repeatedly ask myself: How is it that so many 19- and 20- and 21-year-olds can be so intellectually curious, so actively engaged on campus and in their communities, so creative, so courageous and already so skillful with still so much time and learning ahead of them?

Being part of a university community also means that we often take for granted what goes on here day after day after day. So today, to celebrate Groundhog Day and the genius of IU students, I thought I’d shine a light on a few recent undergraduate-led projects, each of which reflects just how much IU students enrich the Btown campus and community and, in turn, how the experience they’re given here is preparing them for successes they’re certain to repeat over and over again.

IU Bloomington undergrad stories:

Two undergraduates from the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Bloomington have teamed up with Professor of Germanic Studies Fritz Breithaupt on research in the field of storytelling, including what we learn from stories, how we pass them along and why we preserve them.

IU Bloomington honors students in an “Intro to Psychological and Brain Sciences” class worked last year to build a palm sweat sensor device to measure the effects of various stimuli on the brain.

IU undergraduate Christina Moe is working in the Walczak Lab at IU Bloomington. Moe was recently featured in a LabTV segment in which she described her genetics research into how cells are supposed to properly divide and how she hopes her work will help identify treatments for cancer and other diseases where there are problems with cell division.

And, finally, students in IU Bloomington’s new Media School are taking a course in 3D cinematography, in which they’re learning how 3D film can significantly enhance the storytelling process and the impact it can have on building the professional portfolios of aspiring filmmakers.

Check out the new IU Bloomington YouTube channel for more videos about the Bloomington campus experience.

Year in Review: Top stories from 2014

As 2014 draws to a close, the IU Newsroom invites you to look back with us at some of the top stories at Indiana University Bloomington: national and international guests; new beginnings and historic milestones; great achievements from faculty, students and athletes; and a focus on the future as IU approaches its bicentennial.

“Great universities, like Indiana University, are not narrowly focused,” IU President Michael A. McRobbie said during his annual State of the University address.

McRobbie stressed IU’s commitment to research, scholarly excellence and offering a broad scope of instruction. He reaffirmed the commitment to keeping a high-quality education attainable and increasing international ties. “Great universities, like Indiana University, are expected to endure.”

Here are just a few highlights from 2014:



Interested in exploring the highlighted stories further? Read more below:

Bicentennial Strategic Plan

New IU research and discovery

Inaugurations and dedications

International IU


Star power

IU’s best and brightest

Inclusive IU

Athletic excellence

Forbes’ Best Public Colleges 2014


Living B1G and what it means to be a Hoosier

Beginning this month and throughout the winter and spring, viewers of Big Ten Network basketball and other sports programming will be given a special glimpse into the work being done by IU Bloomington students to establish a more caring culture on campus.

We’ve bantered about Culture of Care in this blog before, but its importance — and the time, energy and dedication this initiative entails —  make it well worth repeating. And as the students who spearhead the initiative can attest to, a significant part of creating a community in which mutual respect, compassion and support are part of the norm is growing greater awareness and understanding of what it means to be a student and, more specifically, a Hoosier student.

As Culture of Care co-chair Patrick Holbrook says in the new Big Ten Network “LiveB1G” vignette featured above, “Being a Hoosier needs to mean more than just being a student and wearing the IU logo on your chest. It should mean being a person who cares for others.”

The new vignette follows up on an earlier BTN story on Culture of Care, which will run throughout the year on the network’s LiveB1G website. The site showcases Big Ten students, faculty and alumni making a positive difference in their communities and throughout the world.

Telling the inspiring story of a safe haven

“For me the office has really served as a home away from home. It’s kind of this place where I can be sure that there will be acceptance no matter what. No matter what problem I have or what issue comes up I can always come here and people will be very supportive and willing to listen and willing to help.” — IU Bloomington student Xander Harty. 

This week, IU Bloomington’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Student Support Services Office will celebrate 20 years of serving Xander Harty and other students for whom the office, at one time an unfathomable concept, has become a safe haven, a second home and a beacon in the fight for acceptance and understanding.

Some stories are so powerful and inspiring they deserve to be told in a way that goes beyond dates, soundbites and statistics, which is why my talented colleagues in the IU Bloomington Newsroom and with the Inside IU newsletter took the “long reads” approach to telling the tale of IU’s GLBT Student Support Services Office and the father figure who has so ably guided it since its inception, Doug Bauder.

Experience the full story package, which includes a number of anecdotes, photos and videos such as the one above, at the following link:

The story arrives just in time for the office’s 20th anniversary open house, which will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 19, from noon to 5 p.m. The event will include guests sharing memories of the office, food, prizes, a collaborative art project and more.

I hope you’ll enjoy the story and learning about the impact that this cozy house on the edge of campus has made on the lives of hundreds of students.

Says Bauder, “I try not to take it for granted. I wake up almost every morning thinking this is such a wonderful place to be. For me, it’s a calling. It’s absolutely what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m more convinced of that than ever.”

Reception to honor Herb Terry, Distinguished Service Award recipient

Herb Terry

Herb Terry

Guest post courtesy of Steve Hinnefeld, who normally writes at the Policy Briefings blog.

If there were a dictionary entry for “faculty governance at Indiana University Bloomington,” it would probably include a picture of Herb Terry, who was recognized for his long and steady service by being awarded the campus’s 2014-15 Distinguished Service Award.

The professor emeritus of telecommunications will be celebrated at a reception at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, at the Indiana Memorial Union Federal Room. Hosting the event are Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel and Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs Tom Gieryn.

Friends who plan to attend may RSVP to

Terry retired in 2012 but has remained a key member of the Bloomington Faculty Council. He was president of the council in 2013-14 and serves this year as a member of its executive, budgetary affairs, faculty affairs and nomination committees.

“Herb Terry has been the face, the voice and the heart of faculty governance at IU Bloomington for decades,” Gieryn said in announcing the award in July. “I know well, from close personal experience, how deftly he negotiates the best interests of the university. He is a model for getting things done, and I cannot imagine a more deserving recipient of this award.”

Terry characteristically deflected credit. “While I am honored to receive this award, it is really an award for all of the people throughout IU that I’ve worked with for almost 40 years,” he said. He added, “Effective shared governance is crucial to the success of the university, and I’m pleased that it’s being recognized through this award.”

Terry joined the Department of Telecommunications faculty in 1974 and was first elected to the Bloomington Faculty Council in 1983. He previously served as its president 2008-09. He was co-secretary of the University Faculty Council, which represents all IU campuses, in 2008-09 and 2013-14.

A first-generation college graduate, Terry developed a passion for service when he joined the American Association of University Professors while a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota. An expert on electronic media law and policy, He has worked in the former Soviet Union and other nations in transition to help create environments favorable to independent media. His international experiences led to his appointment as founding director of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Global Village Living Learning Center, which marks its 10th anniversary this year.

Investing in IU’s compelling research story

Guest post courtesy of Mark Land, IU associate vice president for public affairs and government relations. 

Education. Service. Research.

The work of all universities is embodied by the first two of those three words. At Indiana University and its peer universities across the country, however, faculty research rounds out the tripartite missions of these institutions.

Research is a large economic driver at institutions such as IU, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars a year into the state and supporting a significant number of jobs.

Research is a large economic driver at institutions such as IU, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars a year into the state and supporting a significant number of jobs.

This work – done across a spectrum of disciplines, encompassing the physical sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities – is pursued by talented and dedicated scholars and researchers, and provides many of the basic intellectual discoveries that serve as the foundation for life-saving medical treatments, life-changing technological advancements and life-enhancing knowledge. Indeed, well over half of all basic research in the United States that results in commercial products, technologies or therapies is performed at universities.

Research also is a large economic driver at institutions such as IU, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars a year into the state and supporting a significant number of jobs. For example, IU researchers spent $533 million on their work in fiscal year 2014, and that total has exceeded $500 million annually for the past four years.

The lion’s share of that funding comes from federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, which are charged with supporting basic research that helps advance the nation’s vital interests. This infusion of financial support is an important driver of IU’s economic impact on the state – which exceeds $10 billion a year when taken together with our healthcare partner Indiana University Health.

As you might imagine, a research enterprise of this magnitude is complex. Competition for funding at a time of dwindling public funding is especially fierce, which makes effectively communicating the breadth and value of IU faculty research more important than ever.

At IU, that work traditionally has been done by skilled communicators embedded across the university in our various schools, as well as in our campus and university research organizations and the office of public affairs. That work routinely results in interesting stories about breakthrough research at IU, which often is shared through the media and regularly pushed out by the university through our social media channels.

I’m extremely proud of our efforts to share IU’s outstanding research story, but we know there is more to do, and we have taken an important first step in raising our game in this area by creating the university’s first-ever manager of research communication.

This position, a cooperative venture between the offices of Public Affairs and Government Relations and the Vice President for Research, will lead a coordinated university-wide effort to better communicate the scope and impact of IU’s research enterprise to key audiences. Steve Chaplin, a veteran science writer at IU, has moved into this new role and we will be adding another science writer in the office of public affairs to further bolster our efforts.

Veteran IU science writer Steve Chaplin is IU's first-ever manager of research communications.

Veteran IU science writer Steve Chaplin is IU’s first-ever manager of research communications.

Our intent is to do more than just tell individual success stories about research grants, but rather to leverage our communication resources to highlight broad themes and areas of expertise as they relate to IU’s research enterprise across all our campuses. We also intend to do more to show the real-world impact of IU research, which is vitally important at a time when funding sources are under considerable stress.

And we don’t intend to stop there.

Research communications will continue to be a top priority across the university, and we will be examining every aspect of how we do this work – from staffing to story selection to distribution to how we work with researchers to help them become better advocates for their work.

IU has a great research story to tell. And we intend to do a great job of telling it.