Lilly Endowment awards $5 million to IU for initiatives to keep graduates in state

Dec. 9, 2013


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie announced today that Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded the university $5 million to support several strategic initiatives geared toward fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation and facilitating college completion through online degree and career development programs.

The endowment’s Initiative to Promote Opportunities Through Educational Collaborations will fund new and continued activities at seven IU campuses aimed at increasing the number of college graduates who find meaningful employment in Indiana.

"The goal of this initiative -- retaining our talented graduates in the state of Indiana -- is fundamentally important to the economic vitality of our state and central to the mission of Indiana University as a public university," McRobbie said. "The initiatives that we will employ with the support of this generous funding will mobilize the expertise of our nationally renowned faculty in innovation and entrepreneurship to nurture the kinds of ventures that employ our graduates, as well as graduates from Indiana’s other colleges and universities, for decades to come."

The funding comes as part of a third round of grants awarded by Lilly Endowment over the past decade to improve the job prospects of college graduates in the state. IU has been part of all three grant cycles, receiving $5.5 million in 2003 and $2.75 million in 2008 to establish, among other activities, internship, service learning, job development, job placement and entrepreneurship programs.

McRobbie said the latest round of funding comes at a particularly fortuitous time as it dovetails with major new initiatives at IU related to translating faculty and student discoveries into disclosures and spin-up companies and enhancing online education. Funded by an initial $8 million university investment, IU's newly launched Office of Online Education is marshaling the university's academic and technological capabilities toward expanding existing programs and developing new offerings that improve the educational attainment of students, address Indiana's economic and professional development needs, and expand the university's global reach.

IU will direct the third round of Lilly Endowment funding toward the following:

  • Increasing demand for college graduates in Indiana through discoveries, disclosures and spin-up companies fostered by faculty and student activities and research at IU Bloomington.
  • Facilitating degree completion through the new IU Online office as well as on-campus opportunities.
  • Providing a system-wide career development program for students, including those pursuing degrees online, that prepares them for knowledge-economy positions.
  • Organizing an annual convention that brings together Indiana employers and state higher education institutions to ensure that curriculum development is aligned with emerging employment needs and trends.

IU will match the endowment grant with an institutional commitment of $3.7 million for these endeavors.

While progress has been made in recent years toward enhancing and expanding opportunities for Indiana college graduates to find meaningful employment, more needs to be done, according to officials at the endowment, which is awarding $62.7 million in grants to 39 colleges and universities across the state.

"Despite a steady supply of four-year college graduates, Indiana ranks very low among the states in the percentage of its adult working-age population that has a bachelor's degree, and the state's average per capita income ranking also is unacceptable," said Sara B. Cobb, vice president for education at the Lilly Endowment. "The endowment has become increasingly concerned about the implications of these statistics and their potential impact on the state’s future prosperity."