August 8, 2018

Conference for IU Women: Remarks of Laurie Burns McRobbie

Indiana University

Wednesday, August 08, 2018


Welcome, women of Indiana University! I am Laurie Burns McRobbie and it is my distinct pleasure to kick off this wonderful gathering of IU women. On behalf of the sponsors and planners of this inaugural conference, I want to start by thanking you all for being here to help shape what we hope will become an IU tradition.

Indiana University is an enormous and multi-faceted organization, geographically dispersed and spanning just about every academic field (since we now have engineering and architecture, this is truer than ever!). It’s nearly impossible to see the whole of it from our individual vantage points, but today, thanks to thoughtful work by our conference committee and dedicated support from IU’s leadership, this room holds a true microcosm of the staff and faculty of the university, with attendees from every campus, representation across careers and positions as well as job levels and years of experience, and reflecting the diversity of backgrounds and identities of IU women.


Conference Origins

This conference was the brainchild of Sue Sciame-Geisecke from IU Kokomo and Kathy Cruz-Uribe from IU East, who reached out to me in the late fall of 2016 to talk about how we could celebrate and support women across the entire institution. Given the national climate and some of the egregious rhetoric of the campaign, we wanted to send a message about the value of IU women and to do what we could to increase your sense of connection with each other, as well as to help expand the professional development and networking opportunities available to you.
We reached out to a few more women, and before long, we had a fantastic planning committee assembled. I know I speak for Sue and Kathy in saying how heartened, grateful, impressed – really, awe-struck – we have been at how quickly and vigorously this group grabbed hold of the idea and took off running with it! What you will experience today is the result of their tireless and brilliant work. They have assembled an impressive array of sessions, keynote speakers and a leadership panel, as well as arranging for a couple of exhibits displaying important work going on at IU. Please make sure you visit those. The names of the committee members and exhibitors are in your program, and I encourage you to show your appreciation when you see them during today’s sessions.

I particularly want to thank Deb Dunbar and Sarah Booher for their exceptional leadership of the planning committee, and give a special thank-you to Michelle Boulden, Kevin Knerr, and their colleagues from IU Conferences and Events. Please join me in giving them all a round of applause!

I also want to thank our supporting sponsors, all of the vice presidents, chancellors and unit heads who contributed financially and by agreeing to have their staff members spend time to make this conference happen! Their financial support made it possible to keep the cost of attendance down and to ensure that the logistics – from food and seating to IT support – were well in hand. Let’s give them a round of applause too!

Finally, I want to thank my co-conspirators, Kathy and Sue, for asking me to join with you and for shaping the vision for this conference. Kathy and Sue work tirelessly to support women on their campuses and across the institution and I’m very grateful to both of you for the opportunity you gave me to collaborate with you and make this idea come to life.


The Woman of IU

We are in a particularly important time, as a country and as an institution. I think for all of us, it has felt increasingly important to ensure that our voices are heard, and that our voices are used in support of the values and principles that our country and this institution were founded on.

As many of you know, I am involved in IU’s efforts to engage our nearly 400,000 living alumnae more deeply in the life and evolution of the university, through their gifts of time, talent and treasure. Our alumnae, like all of you, are thinking about how they can serve as role models for the young women who are coming to IU for their educations and their professional preparation and growth. At alumnae gatherings across the state and around the country, we are having conversations about what it means to be a woman of Indiana University. And from these conversations, we’ve begun to develop a way to describe her.

  • The woman of IU cares about the health and well-being of the people in her community.
  • She is committed to supporting the arts, the humanities, and the sciences.
  • She is dedicating to learning about and practicing the art of philanthropy.
  • And she is focused on changing the world.

And there’s one more distinguishing feature of the woman of IU, which is that she has a voice, and she uses that voice to stand up for the values of Indiana University.

Values such as respect for others, openness to the world and to citizens from other countries, a willingness to welcome other viewpoints, and a commitment to the truth, and the constant pursuit of truth. That is the woman of IU, and I welcome you here today in the spirit of using our voices to help make a better university, a better state, a better country, and a better world.