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The TEDx factor

By now, I suspect you’re familiar with TED — the now 20-year-old event series that has spread knowledge and ideas to tens of millions of curious souls around the world. Perhaps you even have your favorite TED talk. (I’m partial to Susan Cain’s “The power of introverts” and Jill Bolte Taylor’s “My stroke of insight.”) Or maybe you have a friend or colleague who’s shared with you a TED talk he or she found particularly inspiring.

This year's TEDxBloomington event once again features a strong IU Bloomington connection.

This year’s TEDxBloomington event once again features a strong IU Bloomington connection.

If you’re like me, you’ve watched these videos in the privacy of your own home or workplace – not that there’s anything wrong with that. But there’s an X-factor to TED that even its most devout followers might not always recognize, one that organizers of this year’s TEDxBloomington event on April 26 — the third such event to be held in Btown in the past four years — are focusing on more than ever before: community building.

“We see the entirety of TEDxBloomington as an experience so far beyond watching individual videos on screen,” says event curator Luci McKean. “It’s about speakers interacting with attendees. It’s about attendees interacting with each other. It’s about connecting with one another.”

Naturally, McKean says, it’s also about IU. Nearly all of this year’s speakers have some sort of IU connection – they are faculty, students and alumni. The list of speakers includes, among others, Distinguished Professor of Sociology Bernice Pescosolido; T. Kelly Wilson, director of the IU Center for Art and Design in Columbus; Shahzeen Attari, assistant professor at the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs; and Professor of Photography at the IU School of Fine Arts Jeffrey Wolin.

Despite the strong cream and crimson flair, though, McKean says TEDxBloomington isn’t your typical academic symposium, where there’s a theme and the academics sit together, maybe on a panel or in a VIP section of the audience, apart from attendees. Indeed, the intermingling of speakers and attendees differentiates TEDxBloomington from other TEDx events around the country and creates what McKean calls a “magical experience.”

“TEDxBloomington is designed to generate opportunities for all of our attendees to interact with our speakers, who sit in the audience during breaks, interact with attendees before and after their talks,” McKean says. “Everyone is encouraged to come back after breaks and sit in a different seat, view the event from a different perspective and with different people. It sets us apart, very dramatically, from other conferences.”

“The first year we did this event (2011), we had Gever Tulley, who’s spoken on the big stage at TED,” McKean continues. “He was so impressed with how we dealt with our speakers and how we put the show together.”

McKean says that this year, event organizers purposely only invited a couple of speakers from outside the state. “We were always showcasing talent,” she says, “but this year we’ve found so many people right here who had ideas worth spreading and that fit our theme.”

This year’s theme is: “What Goes ‘Round,” and presenters will talk about topics that are metaphorically or literally round, spherical, global or cyclical.

Fortunately, McKean and co. didn’t have to go far to find folks who could talk knowledgeably and spark discussion on these subjects. Perhaps the biggest X factor at all in TEDxBloomington’s favor? Being based in one of the nation’s premier college towns.

“Certainly people do TEDx events all over world, not just in university towns, but I wouldn’t want to try,” McKean says. “There’s such rich diversity of intelligent thought at IU and in Bloomington that our biggest problem isn’t having enough ideas, it’s having too many to choose from.”

Check out this Inside IU Bloomington story for more on TEDxBloomington and the IU connection.

TEDxBloomington will be held on April 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. Tickets are available here or at the BCT Box Office. 

Btown welcomes the king of the B movie

Just yesterday, I was talking to my dad about one of his favorite films: the 1979 cult classic “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School,” featuring the legendary punk rock band the Ramones. Dad was telling me about the day he and one of his middle-school teaching buddies decided it would be fun to show a particularly loud scene from the film to their fellow teachers, many of whom had grown up with Johnny Mathis, not Johnny Ramone, under the guise of a “teacher training” video.

Roger Corman will discuss his six decades in film IU Cinema on Friday, April 18.

Roger Corman will discuss his six decades in film at the IU Cinema on Friday, April 18.

Dad will be happy (and perhaps a little bit jealous) to hear that the guy who made possible that little act of teacher rebellion, the legendary filmmaker Roger Corman, will be here at the Indiana University Cinema this week. Corman, who has built a legacy that is unparalleled and helped launch the careers of a countercultural generation of filmmakers, will address his art and legacy during the latest Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Lecture at 3 p.m. Friday, April 18.

Martin Scorsese. Frances Ford Coppola. Joe Dante. James Cameron. Ron Howard. Jonathan Demme. Peter Bogdanovich. All of these incredible directors graduated from the “Corman School” of filmmaking and learned the finer points of their craft from a Hollywood rebel who somehow managed to be among the most influential and prolific producer/directors in American cinematic history.

Like many others, I’m guessing, I associated Corman with low-budget B movies. It was only after hearing the two-time Academy Award-nominee Bogdanovich (“The Last Picture Show”) talk about Corman’s immense influence on his own work that I began to connect Corman with the masterful and path-breaking moviemaking for which he is renowned.

Bogdanovich’s talk also occurred at IU Cinema. Back in 2011, Bogdanovich helped dedicate a facility that’s quickly become a haven for the greatest living actors and filmmakers from around the world to share their insights and showcase their best works.

And sure enough, the king of the B movie gets an A-list warm-up act. Meryl Streep is here in Btown on Wednesday.

Consider the possibilities

How do you become the most trusted man in news?

If you’re Tom Brokaw, you “consider the possibilities.”

In the March/April 2014 issue of Public Administration Review, a leading scholarly publication based at the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs and edited by SPEA faculty, the former anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News reflects on his favorite university professor and the wise counsel he was given by a teacher known simply to his students, colleagues and friends as “Doc.”

Tom Brokaw

Tom Brokaw

To say much more might take away from the enjoyment of this short, breezy piece that anyone familiar with Brokaw’s Midwestern sensibility and dry wit will surely appreciate.

Brokaw is also known for chronicling the achievements of “the greatest generation,” the term he coined to describe those Americans who grew up during the Great Depression and led our country’s efforts at home and abroad during World War II. Indeed, Doc Farber, who urged a young Brokaw to “consider the possibilities” when Brokaw was trying to find his way as a student at the University of South Dakota, made it through the Depression before dedicating his life to USD students.

But it’s no stretch to think that today’s generation of college students, including IU’s soon-to-be-graduates who will go through commencement ceremonies next month, will relate to the advice America’s most trusted newsman was given by his favorite professor many years ago.

Blogger’s note: Launched in 1940, Public Administration Review is the premier journal of public administration research, theory and practice. It is published for the American Society of Public Administration, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. IU SPEA Distinguished Professor Emeritus James Perry serves as editor-in-chief of the journal and Professor Richard Feiock from Florida State University is managing editor. SPEA staff and graduate students work on the journal as logistical editors and editorial assistants.

Mathers brings research work to life

Within the modest exterior of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures — one of my favorite places to visit on the IU Bloomington campus — something pretty illuminating is going on.

The Mathers, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, is shining a light on how museums can change, yet still preserve and promote knowledge of the past and the age-old traditions upon which the present is built.

Mathers director and associate professor of folklore Jason Jackson, the subject of the latest Brilliant Minds video from IU Bloomington’s Office of the Vice Provost for Research, describes the museum’s mission this way:

“We have a special capacity to bridge the work of scholars on campus and the needs and interests of wider communities,” he says. “We really hope that we’re a place where the research work of IU faculty can be brought to life in a way that’s accessible to all kinds of audiences, not just scholarly ones.”

Sounds simple, but it’s kind of, well, brilliant. And it reflects how museums like the Mathers can successfully shape themselves in ways that support and strengthen the research culture on today’s college campuses.

“A residential campus in the classic mold like Indiana University Bloomington has an obligation to constantly think, ‘well what is it that we’re offering students that you can only take advantage of if you do come to Bloomington and study here,” Jackson says. “From my point of view, the Mathers Museum and other museums on this campus are one of the answers to that question.”

More videos in the Brilliant Minds series are available online.

Provost focuses on strategic plan in State of the Campus address

A visual depiction of IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel's State of the Campus address.

A visual depiction of IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel’s 2014 State of the Campus address. Click to enlarge.

NOTE: This guest post was written by IU Newsroom colleague Steve Hinnefeld, who normally blogs at Policy Briefings. Word cloud courtesy of IU Newsroom’s social media strategist Thom Atkinson.

The strategic plan for the Indiana University Bloomington campus is nearing completion some eight months after the planning process kicked off, Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel said this week in her 2014 State of the Campus address.

Robel said the plan, which she intends to submit to IU President Michael A. McRobbie by April 15, demonstrates that members of the campus community have come together to create a vision of academic excellence as the university approaches its 2020 bicentennial celebration.

“What will our campus look like in five years if we adopt this plan? I will leave that to your imaginations,” she said. “But at the very least, we will surely be a community that understands and values the benefits of working together towards common campus goals.

“This process has brought out the best in a great many faculty, staff and students, who have through their work made doing so appear both desirable and achievable. I will be honored to devote myself to making their vision real for our campus.”

Speaking to nearly 100 people in Presidents Hall, Robel touched on her recent visits to East Asia and spoke of the remarkable loyalty toward the university expressed by alumni such as renowned South Korean pianist Ick-choo Moon and the distinguished Chinese jurist Tongkui Ju.

“When it opened its doors in 1820, the tiny seminary that would become this great public university might not have envisioned Ick-choo Moon or Tongkui Ju,” she said. “Indeed, it might not have envisioned a president from Australia! But in the world our graduates will face in 2020, and the one in which our state competes and participates today, these global connections are essential.”

Robel said members of a university community consider it “self-evident” that faculty drive great programs, that they work from deep knowledge of their disciplines and that they take profound satisfaction from the success of their students. But they also recognize, she said, that the campus can do more for students and the world by working collectively and interdependently.

And showing how is the role of the strategic plan, developed by 167 faculty members, students and staff serving on 11 committees and generating reports and recommendations that have been polished and improved through comments offered at town-hall meetings with various stake-holder groups.

“With the utmost respect for the work that we do in our most immediate neighborhoods,” Robel said, “these 167 colleagues have invited us to raise our gaze to who we are collectively and where we can be better together. Their imagination and dedication to a common vision for our future is inspiring.”

The plan includes goals and objectives addressing major areas including the experiences of undergraduates; the quality of graduate programs and faculty; university research efforts; global experiences and connections; and new interdisciplinary collaborations.

The focus provided by the planning process has already led to actions, Robel said. For example, an examination of undergraduate services produced investments in advising. The campus launched “a terrific initiative,” the Center of Excellence for Women in Technology, which supports women pursing technology careers. And new faculty members now have access to leadership and career management assistance through IU’s membership in the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity.

The research segment of the plan includes a focus on “grand challenges,” big, important initiatives that attack challenging questions, often with an interdisciplinary approach. “I would like to suggest that we also consider how we might use our resources to have a large and measurable impact on our immediate neighborhood,” Robel said, “by identifying ways we can have a measurable impact on the health, educational achievement and economies of the counties surrounding our own.”

An archived webcast of the provost’s address is available at the university’s site. The text of the address will be posted to the Office of the Provost website.

Things I love

I admit, I’m a bit of a romantic, especially when it comes to IU and Btown, where I’ve lived for the last 15 years. I received a master’s degree here. Met my lovely wife my first day of school. Have two kids who are growing up great here. My 11-year-old got to rush the Assembly Hall court for the first time recently. I have more pictures of my son and daughter traipsing through Dunn Meadow and around the Herman B Wells statue than I know what to do with.

Today being Valentine’s Day, a holiday that seems to go hand-in-hand with Hoosier cream-and-crimson, here are a few recent things that have added to my ongoing love affair with IU:

IU love stories: Did I mention I was a romantic? These stories, which first appeared in the Indiana Alumni Magazine and were reprinted in Inside IU Bloomington, show just how passionate IU alumni are about each other and their beloved university.

Making peace …: For the first time since 2011-12, IU Bloomington has earned a spot on the Peace Corps’ annual list of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities. More than 1,600 IU graduates have served since the agency was created in 1961.


IU and students from Bloomington's Harmony School will partner on a woodland gardening initiative.

IU and students from Bloomington’s Harmony School will partner on a woodland gardening initiative.

… and harmony: A perfect match. IU and students from Btown’s Harmony School will partner on a woodland gardening initiative intended to give students a better understanding of nature’s gifts and the benefits of green infrastructure.

Marathon film fest: Why do I love the IU Cinema? Let me count the ways. Rather, how about I just mention that the nation’s premier university cinema will be showcasing 12 films starring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in a 24-hour marathon festival. The festival begins Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 18.

Play ball!: The best cure for the winter blues? Big Red baseball. First pitch for the Hoosiers, who are on the heels of the greatest season in IU baseball history, comes at you this afternoon at 3 p.m. EST at Texas Tech.

Meet the Beatles experts: Fifty years after they grabbed Americans’ hearts, the Beatles were back in the national conversation. And so were IU’s Beatles experts, including IU Jacobs School of Music professor Glenn Gass, who teaches what is believed to be the longest-running course on the Fab Four in existence.

IU talks Sochi: When they weren’t talking the Beatles, IU’s best and brightest minds were weighing in on the 2014 Winter Olympics. Their insights on the games blanketed many of the issues swirling around Sochi, Russia, including altitude and athletics, the role of social media, media and public opinion, the threat of terrorism and other controversies.

Big News: Shameless plug, but I think this site, featuring the headline-generating exploits and expertise of IU faculty and staff and brought to you by my colleagues in the IU Bloomington Newsroom, is pretty sweet.

Hoosier Valentine. You can’t spell IU without U and I. I bid you adieu with a few of my favorite #HoosierValentine cards that are being lovingly shared across the social media sphere.


The inner workings of the artist and scientist

Seismophotography and Shakespeare sonnets. Deadly pathogens and paintings.

Combine them and you get just another day in the inner workings of the brilliantly talented minds at IU Bloomington.

Art and science converge in the latest from IU Bloomington’s “Brilliant Minds” video series, which showcases how numerous campus researchers (from biology, geology, informatics and psychology) and artists (including painters, photographers and videographers, and textile artists) are collaborating to create amazing art based on scientific imaging. This unique creative process has enhanced the effort of both the scientist and artist alike to explore, better understand and offer commentary on the human condition and the world around them.

Jeff Wolin, Ruth N. Halls Professor of fine arts and co-leader of the Imag(in)ing Science at the Grunwald Gallery project, which my colleague Bethany Nolan blogged about last fall, sums it up best: “I’d like to think that good art could be good science and good science could be good art … it’s an idea that was very much part of the culture of the 19th century … we’re trying to be a leader in the rediscovery of art and science.”

The Brilliant Minds video series was created by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and IU Bloomington campus. More videos are available online.

Power and strength: IU lives B1G tonight

While the Hoosiers get ready for tonight’s on-the-road hoops contest at Nebraska, fans might also take note of another Big Ten Network happening this evening, one that features two truly amazing and powerful IU stories.

Tonight, after the game, the network’s LiveB1G program will focus on the remarkable road to recovery of IU Athletics head strength and conditioning coach Tom Morris, who lost the use of his legs after a terrifying biking accident, and IU’s Proton Therapy Center, where tumor patients are receiving a groundbreaking alternative to radiation treatment.

The episode will air at approximately 10:45 p.m. EST, following the Big Ten Basketball Report. It will be repeated at 1:30 p.m. EST on Friday.

For those who might not be able to stay up and/or set a DVR, the good news is that both episode segments just came available online.

You’ll be hard-pressed not to be awed and inspired by the innovation and success of a center that, through a unique, noninvasive treatment, has saved many lives, including that of young Ben Edwards, whose dramatic and touching story is featured in the opening.

And as the segment on Morris shows, the beloved coach hasn’t stopped pushing himself since his accident, and he continues to hold himself to the same work standards that he sets for the athletes he trains. The segment also features men’s basketball coach Tom Crean, sharing his thoughts about why Morris is so special and what his story means for anyone going through difficult times.


Call it the Big Red version of Charlie Brown opening his mailbox one day and—YES!!!—finding an actual Valentine’s Day card from the “Little Red-Haired Girl.”

Indiana University is putting a social spin on the traditional acceptance letter.

Indiana University is putting a social spin on the traditional college acceptance letter.

Putting a 21st-century, social media spin on the time-honored tradition of the college acceptance letter, staff at Indiana University have injected even more fun, energy and excitement into an already momentous life-event.

The university’s new #IUsaidYes campaign—which comes complete with a crimson envelope, rousing new YouTube video and a catchy new hashtag—has got IU’s newest students talking (which, in this day and age, means tweeting and posting) and telling the world from the very first day they’re accepted how excited they are to be Hoosiers. (Scroll down for some sample tweets.)

The social media statistics reflect the excitement the new campaign has generated thus far. Since the campaign’s inception in August, there have been 3,400 tweets, nearly 5,000 re-tweets and more than 3.7 million timelines reached with those tweets. Additionally, there have been a total of 894 Instagram posts with the #IUsaidYes hashtag. What’s more, of those students admitted within the last month, more than one in 10 have tweeted about their admission using the #IUsaidYes hashtag.

With its First Year Experience programs, including new student orientation, IUBeginnings trips and Welcome Week events, IU has long prided itself on helping future Hoosier alums get off to a strong start and helping them connect early with the people, places and traditions of IU. Now the connection starts sooner and the connections begin as soon as the newly admitted students get the good news.

That IU’s newest students bleed red from the beginning is testament to the continued ingenuity of admissions officials and IU Communications creative staff, who worked together to come up with a campaign that has managed to stay true to IU’s brand and tradition in today’s Twitterversed world.

“The crimson envelope came about because I knew our admit packet needed a facelift,” says Krista Timney, senior associate director of marketing/communications in IU Bloomington’s Office of Enrollment Management and campaign co-creator, along with IU Admissions Senior Assistant Director Chase McCoy. “We needed something that would really stand out when it came in the mail and something that would let students know immediately that it was from IU and that it was good news. It’s also very important to let students know that it is a big deal to get admitted to IU! So, what stands out more and says ‘IU’ more than a crimson envelope?”

Even before they receive their official acceptance packet in the mail, Timney says, students receive an #IUsaidYes email with artwork on the top that reads “Your crimson envelope is in the mail.” (Sorry, Charlie. Nowadays, it’s email before snail mail.) Another email arrives a few weeks later asking them to share their good news with the world.

“We all follow the posts and tweets on,” Timney says. “It’s often the highlight of the day to see what students have done. It’s fantastic and so much fun for us.”

In and around higher education circles, there has been a great deal of talk in recent years about the value of a college education, whether the four-year degree offers the best avenue to real-world success and the future of online learning, among other topics. These discussions are clearly worth having, and, indeed, they have helped drive many recent academic and administrative activities here at IU.

Not to be forgotten, though, is the anxiety many of us have experienced when that packet finally arrived in the mailbox (unfortunately, no email in my day!), the squint of the eyes as you slowly opened it and the thrill and excitement you felt when finding out that the school you selected actually said ‘Yes.’

Simple, straightforward and social, #IUsaidYes offers a welcome reminder that—kind of like Charlie Brown himself—getting into college will never go out of style.

Giving thanks

It’s Thanksgiving break week and I, for one, am grateful. This semester has felt like it’s gone by at breakneck speed, providing me with little opportunity to give thanks for some recent big happenings in Btown.

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the Indiana premier of what will almost certainly become the next smash-hit sports documentary, “Medora,” at the IU Cinema. Directed by two Midwesterners, “Medora” showcases the stirring story of the state’s worst high school basketball team over the course of a single season, capturing the lives of the players on and off the court and life in a small southern Indiana town struggling to hang on to its cherished past.

The statewide debut featured Angelo Pizzo, the writer and producer of “Hoosiers” fame, interviewing the filmmakers, as well as a special appearance by members of the Medora Hornets, whose lives surely won’t be the same once this riveting documentary, which delivered a slam-dunk performance at IU Cinema, continues to make its way around the country.

So thanks to the IU Cinema, one of the country’s finest, if not the finest, collegiate cinema houses, and its tireless director, Jon Vickers, for giving Btown audiences the opportunity to see this little documentary before it goes big time.

And there’s much more to be thankful for, including:

IU’s scruffy students. After junior Brian Levitas was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his friends rallied around him Red Sox-style, growing out their facial hair for “No Shave November.” The bearded boys from Btown have raised $60,000 for cancer research so far, and, just last week, showed their love and support for Brian on NBC’s “Today” show.

Marathon dancers. More than 3,000 IU Bloomington students danced the night away – and then some – raising a record $2.6 million for Riley Hospital for Children.

Solidarity and support for the Philippines. After a devastating typhoon killed thousands of Filipinos and resulted in massive destruction, members of Bloomington’s Filipino community and IU’s Asian Culture Center came together to help in the relief efforts.

Veterans Support Services. U.S. News and World Report delivers a ranking in which we can all take immense pride: IU Bloomington is one of the top colleges for veterans.

Math whizzes. The numbers don’t lie. One university. Four faculty. Fifty mathematical scientists were named fellows of the American Mathematical Society for 2014 and only IU Bloomington’s College of Arts and Sciences placed four faculty members on the list.

Soulful Hoosiers. It’s a little-known secret about Hoosiers: We’ve got some serious soul. On Nov. 15, legendary soul musician Booker T Jones was among three IU graduates to receive the university’s Distinguished Alumni Service Award, IU’s highest award given only to an alumna or alumnus. Booker T celebrated his award by dropping by Dance Marathon that evening along with IU President Michael A. McRobbie.

The previous week, the renowned IU Soul Revue participated in the 20th-anniversary performance of the African American Arts Institute’s “Potpourri of the Arts” concert.

Finally, I give you former IU basketball star Victor Oladipo, who’s known to deliver a little bit of soulful magic behind the mike. See the video of Victor singing with fellow Hoosier athlete Shelby Gogreve that went viral this month.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!