February 24, 2023

21st Century Scholars auto-enrollment receives bipartisan support in the House

When the Indiana Commission for Higher Education released its annual College Readiness Report in June 2022, the statistics were alarming: only 53 percent of Indiana high school graduates in May 2020 enrolled in postsecondary education after high school. This was asix percentage point decline from the prior year anda total decline of 12 percentage points over the last five years. Despite the steep drop in the college-going rate, Indiana 21st Century Scholars bucked the larger trend.

The 21st Century Scholars program is Indiana’s early college promise program, founded in 1990, which allows income-eligible students to enroll in seventh or eighth grade and earn up to four years of college tuition in Indiana for free. Eighty-one percent of scholars go to college, compared to the statewide average of 53 percent. 

As part of the multifaceted strategy for reversing the downward trend of Indiana’s college-going rate, the Commission has called for automatically enrolling all eligible students in 21st Century Scholars. Statewide advocacy groups, including the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Latino Institute and Ascend Indiana began endorsing this policy change, and state policy makers took note. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb included auto-enrollment in his 2023 Next Level Agenda for the legislative session and called on lawmakers during his 2023 State of the State Address to, “easily ensure thousands more students have their college opportunity paid by automatically enrolling all financially eligible students in the immensely successful 21st Century Scholarship Program, once and for all!” 

House Bill 1449, authored by Rep. Earl Harris Jr., D-East Chicago, would do just that, allowing the Commission to automatically enroll all eligible students into the program and instead provide an opt-out provision for families who do not want to participate. During testimony given to the House Education committee, Indiana University testified on behalf of itself, and the other six state educational institutions, affirming support for the bill and our collective efforts on helping 21st Century Scholars persist year to year and complete a program of study on-time with a degree or credential.  

From the 21st Century Scholars Covenant (a supplemental financial aid award at IU Bloomington that takes the program even further by covering the cost of books, room and board, and other expenses) to additional academic support, tutoring and mentoring, and professional guidance for 21st Scholars at every one of its campuses, IU collectively stands ready to support and graduate more 21st Scholars with this positive policy change. 

The bill passed the House Education committee with full support 11-0 and received additional bipartisan support from the House Ways and Means committee, passing 24-0. Once on the House floor, the chamber offered the bill high praise and full bipartisan support with a vote of 92-1. The bill has now been referred to the Senate, where it will be eligible for committee consideration starting on March 6 during the second half of session.


Former state budget director Jason Dudich to join IU

This week, IU announced that Jason Dudich, former budget director for the state of Indiana and current vice president for finance and administration and treasurer at the University of Indianapolis, has been appointed as associate vice president for fiscal and economic strategy.  

Dudich, an IU alumnus, will report to IU Vice President for University Relations Michael Huber. He will provide financial management expertise and policy leadership to advance IU's economic engagement initiatives and the university's government relations efforts at the state and federal level. 

"Jason has a proven track record as a catalytic leader across sectors including public, private and academia," Huber said. "The experience he brings will help Indiana University strengthen Indiana's economic vitality and improve the lives of Hoosiers across our state.”


Statehouse Update

This Statehouse Update provides a summary of bills the IU State Relations team is tracking and that moved during the seventh week of session. Lawmakers raced to meet the deadline to move bills out of committee and to the floor before the end of the week. Additionally, many important bills hit the floor of the House and the Senate for second reading, which is the opportunity for the whole chamber to offer amendments on the billBy the middle of next week, we will know all the bills that passed out of their originating chamber and are still eligible to become law. 

Read the Statehouse Update


Economic Engagement Update

Expanding K-12 computing, STEM opportunities 

The Indiana University Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering at IUPUI announced this week that the school will build on its work with industry partners to bring computing curriculum, co-curricular activities and additional teacher training into more Indianapolis schools. 

A $2.6 million Explore, Engage and Experience grant from the Indiana Department of Education will support expansion of the innovative Informatics Diversity-Enhanced Workforce curriculum, known as iDEW, into middle and elementary schools. A collaboration between the Luddy School, TechServ and TechPoint Foundation for Youth, iDEW prepares underrepresented minority and economically disadvantaged high school students in Indiana for informatics and computing careers. 

“Employment in informatics and IT is projected to grow 12 percent, the fastest among all occupations, and expected to add 488,500 new jobs by 2024,” said Mathew J. Palakal, senior executive associate dean of Luddy IUPUI and director of iDEW. “However, employers have identified a gap between this demand and the supply of young people prepared to enter the IT/STEM workforce, and Indiana is no exception. We and our partners have proven that with funding like this IDOE grant, we can successfully address the gap and will continue to do so.” 

Learn more 


IUPUI split will be key to downtown’s future 

In a recently published commentary, Nate Feltman, publisher of the Indianapolis Business Journal and CEO of IBJ Media, underscored the importance of the new vision for IUPUI that IU and Purdue University jointly announced last year and the “enormous repercussions” this bold initiative will have for the future of downtown Indianapolis.  

“As state and city leaders grapple with reinvigorating downtown and contemplate the future economic drivers for the region, arguably nothing holds more promise than the further activation of two of the state’s most powerful research engines,” Feltman wrote.  

Feltman is the co-chair of an IU taskforce focused on ideas that will transform the future IU Indianapolis into one of the premier urban research universities in the country. The group, which includes area business, civic and not-for-profit leaders, will make recommendations to IU President Pamela Whitten this spring. 

In his commentary, Feltman listed several key IU activities already underway, including expansion plans for the IU School of Nursing and IU Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering in Indianapolis, and the university’s plans to increase the number of STEM grads in Indianapolis in conjunction with a new downtown science and technology corridor, called the IU SciTech Corridor. 

Read the IBJ commentary (subscription may be required) 

Learn more about IUPUI’s next chapter 

Read about the IU SciTech Corridor 


Key to a thriving Midwestern economy? University investments in high-potential ventures 

In a commentary for Crain’s Chicago Business, a leading source of news, analysis and information on business in Chicago and the Midwest, Indiana University Associate Vice President Tony Armstrong contends that the Midwest will recognize major benefits from further engaging its top colleges and universities as key engines for economic growth. Armstrong is the president and CEO of IU Ventures, IU’s early-stage venture and angel investment arm, which continues to make sizeable investments in high-potential IU-affiliated companies, including several fast-growing startups in large Midwestern cities such as Indianapolis and Chicago.  

Listen to the commentary


IU in the news

Addressing food insecurity for Hoosiers 

With a $2.9 million grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine are working to improve food insecurity in Indiana and ultimately improve the health of people in Indiana. 

Read the full story 


Providing 20 years of cybersecurity leadership

Twenty years ago, Indiana University created the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research—a hub of technology and policy excellence providing organizations, practitioners and scholars with the essential education and skills to manage cybersecurity risks in a rapidly changing landscape. Since then, CACR has become a state and national leader in cybersecurity innovation for the research community, the public sector and defense establishment. 

Read the full story 


A year of support for Ukraine 

In the year since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, Indiana University students, faculty, staff and alumni have mobilized to help Ukrainian scholars, educate others about the war and support Ukrainian students. 

See a feature collection of stories 


Belief is key ingredient for IU’s first Big Ten regular season title in 40 years 

Last Sunday, the No. 2-ranked Indiana University women’s basketball team scored an 83-60 victory over rival Purdue at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, securing the program's first Big Ten title since 1983. It came in front of a sellout crowd of 17,222, the largest in program history and the third-biggest ever in Big Ten play. 

Relive the celebration