Paydar: ‘IUPUI will always be in my DNA’
On Tuesday, I had the privilege to deliver my final Report to the Community and State of the Campus Address as chancellor of IUPUI. As I have throughout my tenure, I drew on my training as an engineer, gathering, analyzing and charting data to help understand and share the powerful story of this wonderful campus.
One of the most impressive chapters in that story is the dramatic increase in our graduation rates since I was named chancellor in 2015. Overall, the four-year graduation rate at IUPUI has nearly doubled.
Thanks to the hard work of many, many people across our campus, we are well positioned for that impressive number to continue its increase, building on a very strong foundation. We have more than tripled our need-based aid since my tenure started, with $10 million annually now dedicated to students with financial need.
We have increased housing capacity by more than 700 beds, with North Residence Hall dedicated in 2016 and Ball Residence Hall freshly renovated. Through recruiting and retention efforts, we have increased the percentage of incoming students of color on campus to nearly 40%.
We have focused on strengthening advising, supporting transfer students, creating a welcoming campus for all, nurturing a sense of belonging and helping to ensure that all students, regardless of their background, have what they need to graduate.
Taken together, these and other efforts have led to greater student success both before and after graduation.
Since 1969, more than 224,000 students have graduated from IUPUI. In recent years, most of those graduates have stayed in Indiana; many of them stay right here in Indianapolis to live their lives, raise their families and build their careers. Our Alumni Relations team tells me that IUPUI has more graduates living in Marion County than IU Bloomington and Purdue University combined. If you ask me, we should probably change the name of the Circle City to Jaguar City.
When we look at graduation rates, we are also looking at the long game in higher education since it takes time — sometimes years — to create the programs, build the facilities, design the support services, secure the financial aid and evolve all of this to meet the needs of our quickly changing world. For our students to succeed, they need to dedicate years of personal effort, but they also can rely on the vision, determination and care of thousands of dedicated faculty and staff members.
In the past, I have said that community engagement is in our DNA at IUPUI. That is true, but as my last month in office stretches out before me, I know that — for me — there’s more to it than that.
IUPUI is in my DNA. When I say my farewells, I will be saying goodbye to people who have grown to be family. I will always love this campus, and I will always be a Jaguar at heart.
Nasser H. Paydar is the chancellor of IUPUI.