About Waldtaube.org

Waldtaube (wood dove) is a character in a wonderful piece of music entitled “Gurrelieder” (Songs of Gurre) by Arnold Schoenberg. Waldtaube’s function in “Gurrelieder” is to comment on the goings-on within the drama.  In this blog I hope to comment carefully and clearly on topics that seem of interest to me and hopefully to you, but which are not chosen around any particular theme. Hence the slogan for my blog site: “Careful thoughts on semi-random topics.” The Wood Dove image that graces this page is courtesy of my granddaughter Madeline.

For the sake of Indiana’s economy, please slow down on SB202

What happens to the Indiana economy if Senate Bill 202 (SB202) passes in its current form?

Last year, Indiana University received $772 million in new grants and contracts. Purdue University received $613 million. That money comes predominantly from outside Indiana, contributing significantly to Indiana’s economy. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis’s Regional Impact Multipliers System (RIMS II) is widely used to estimate the impact of investments in a state on that state’s economy. The RIMSII data for Indiana suggest that grants and contracts to IU and Purdue add over $2 billion in direct and indirect value to Indiana’s economy annually (assuming 20% of funding is subcontracted out of state; exact figures on this are not publicly available). This amount of funding supports an estimated 14,000 full-time jobs annually.

Most tenured faculty could make more money outside of academia. World-class experts are attracted to academia to make a difference: to spend a career pursuing research, scholarship, creative activities, and teaching. They receive the assurance of such a career once they have proved their merit through the tenure process. That is the deal in almost all other states. It has been the deal in Indiana in the past, but SB202 would end that here. Faculty of all political perspectives have objected. For example, Purdue University’s Faculty Senate voted 81–5 to oppose SB202. If SB202 is enacted into law, Indiana’s very best faculty members will leave to go to other states.

Losing our best faculty will have many negative economic impacts. Our universities will become less competitive for grants and contracts. Vacated faculty positions can be filled with other PhD holders—but these replacements will be much less qualified than current faculty. For most grant proposals, an important evaluation criterion is a faculty member’s ability to complete the work. SB202 calls that into question, further damaging the competitiveness of Indiana faculty. If SB202 passes as currently written, much less grant and contract money will come into the state of Indiana.

If grant and contract income to IU and Purdue drop to 25% of current levels, the Indiana economy will lose $1.5 billion in total economic activity. More than 10,000 jobs will disappear, following grant money to other states. Competition for grant funding is already intense. The percentage of proposals submitted to granting agencies that are rejected can be as high as 95% to 98% of those submitted. A reduction of grant and contract funding to 25% of current levels seems plausible.

Indiana would suffer other economic impacts as well. If the best faculty members flee, Indiana’s public universities will have lower rankings and may lose accreditation in some specialties, meaning fewer out-of-state students. Losing the higher tuition these students pay (which also subsidizes tuition for Hoosier students) would mean further financial losses for Indiana.

If SB202 is enacted as currently written, pharmaceutical, defense, and high-tech firms in Indiana will lose the existing pipeline of excellent students from our state’s leading universities. Native Hoosiers will miss out on the great opportunity for high-quality jobs available through this pipeline. Indiana will no longer keep the many bright young people who come here to get a university degree and stay here to work in Indiana’s leading tech firms. Pharmaceutical companies will also have far fewer opportunities for local research collaborations that accelerate the development of new, needed, and sometimes lifesaving medical treatments for Hoosiers, their pets, and their agricultural animals.  

Representative Deery cited survey data showing a sharp decrease in confidence in higher education among Republicans as a key reason for authoring SB202. This decrease in confidence should be a grave concern for all. But neither the speed pursued by the right nor the dramatics of the left will provide a good long-term solution. Indiana’s public universities exist because of laws enacted by past elected leaders. Current elected leaders must pursue a future in which every Hoosier child grows up knowing that Indiana’s higher educational system has a place for them where they will be welcomed. Hoosiers also deserve to continue to be able to study at some of the best universities in the world, right here in Indiana.

The current situation took years to create. It will take years to correct. SB202 in its current form will hurt all Hoosiers. Indiana legislators and Governor Holcomb: please, for the sake of all Hoosiers, slow down; don’t try to solve one problem in a rush and create new, potentially worse problems in the process.

Dr. Craig A. Stewart is a PhD biologist and an adopted Hoosier of more than four decades’ standing. He recently retired from a career in advanced research computing and has extensive experience in grant-funded research and analysis of the economic value of scientific research.

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis RIMSII data used in calculations cited above are available online (RIMS II Higher Ed Summary Table – http://www.waldtaube.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Higher-Ed-SummaryTable35.pdf and RIMS II Technical Services Summary Table – http://www.waldtaube.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Prof-Tech-Services-SummaryTable35.pdf). An image of the spreadsheet showing calculations of economic impact of Purdue University and Indiana University grants and contracts is online at http://www.waldtaube.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Economic-Impact-Spreadsheet-Image.png). The spreadsheet itself may be downloaded from http://www.waldtaube.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/IU-and-Purdue-CG-Economic-Impact-2024_feb_24.xlsx . Stewart’s cv showing more than 80 peer reviewed technical and scientific publications overall and more than 10 publications regarding economic evaluation of investment in science (highlighted in yellow) along with information on his involvement in more than 1/3 of a Billion dollars of contract and grant awards is at: http://www.waldtaube.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Stewart-CV-2023_jan_31.pdf

IU Football

Last year I wrote a post about the need for buying out Tom Allen’s contract and finding a new football coach. That note from last December is still relevant, partly because it identifies some of the challenges as well as the opportunities. At $20M buying Coach Tom Allen out this very day would seem a decent option. There are plenty of challenges, including the chronic difficult of attracting good coaches. In the opportunity category is speed with which a team can be refurbished in the course of a single offseason, as a result of the new transfer rules. The University of Colorado Buffaloes are a good example. Ready to compete with Ohio State? Probably not. Interesting? Without question.

Never have I seen a more down-in-the mouth homecoming football game at IU than yesterday. The only team that I can remember that was as consistently unable to execute as this year’s team was the one season of Sam Wyche’s tenure as head coach. Other teams may have been worse overall, but this team is distinctive in its lack of exciting high points in any aspect of the game. Whether it’s the coaches, the players, or both I do not have the expertise to judge. IU Football is not interesting to watch, unless you are a fan of the other team or you attend games to watch the Marching Hundred. Or you know someone with a killer tailgating party. A post I wrote last December seems if anything more on target than it was at the end of 2022. http://www.waldtaube.org/iu-and-its-football-coaching-woes/

A note on this blog site and an index of past posts

October 12, 2023

Hi everyone! I have been largely inactive of late. In general it just hasn’t been clear to me that adding more to the din would do any good. Now, however, I feel the tug to post something now and again – hopefully without doing to much screaming into the void (since the void won’t scream back). Some of what I post will be in German, most in English.

I have put together an index to my old posts and commentaries on Waldtaube.org from the start a bit more than three years ago to October 1 of 2023. The categories are: Fun, Cancer, Religion and spirituality, and Social issues and politics. Posts within each category are listed by category and in reverse chronological order. That makes sense in most cases although my posts on cancer are likely best read bottom up (oldest first).


Is something interesting happening at IU?

I once wrote a blog post entitled “The whitest university ever… .” It was about Indiana University. 

I’ve been a member of the IU community for more than four decades. During that time I have known thousands of faculty members, thousands of staff members, thousands of students, and hundreds of administrators. Among IU faculty and leaders I have known many, many Caucasians. Plenty of Asians. Just a handful of Hispanics. And few enough Black faculty that I can count them on one hand (Charles Neal, Jim Holland, David Baker, Adam Herbert, Gladys DeVane). Of course, that’s just my experience of who I got to know and work with, but it represents a reality of Indiana University: awfully terribly damn white. And the University community has long suffered as a result – suffered because it has lacked the full and deserved voice of people other than Caucasians, Hispanics, Blacks, and Indigenous peoples most notably.

When Michael A. McRobbie became the 18th President of Indiana University in 2007 he took on leadership of an institution mired in mediocrity. So deeply mired, in fact, that many members of the IU community could not even distinguish between mediocrity and excellence. It is unquestionable that former President McRobbie delivered on his promise to make Indiana University once again an excellent university. During his tenure as President there were notable advances in the diversity of the IU community. Still, President McRobbie had been at IU for a decade+ before becoming President and as he rose to the presidency he put into positions of leadership primarily people already at IU, which meant in practice that many of the people who rose to positions of responsibility at IU were largely white (yours truly included to the extent that I count at all as a former member of IU leadership).

Now IU has a new President – Pamela Whitten – and she seems to be making a richly diverse university community one of her priorities. Since she became President:

Put together, an interesting set of accomplishments related to diversity of the IU community within the first six months of President Whitten’s tenure. Of the above, the first, and I think not nearly well noticed enough, was the classification of IU Northwest as an HSI. First this classification says to Hispanic Hoosiers that IU Northwest that they are welcome there. It also means that IU Northwest gets special consideration for grant funding. AND the faculty there now become prime targets for being partners on grant proposals led by faculty of IUPUI and IU Bloomington.

It’s far too early to judge the presidency of Pamela Whitten. But today there are more people of color in top leadership positions than ever before and there are now two IU holidays that honor the legacy of Blacks in the USA. That’s two more of each than there were when I first became a member of the IU community more than 40 years ago. So while it’s too early to judge, one can look at IU on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and think that something interesting might be going on.