President’s contract ensures continuity

(Bloomington) Herald-Times

Indiana University football fans are waiting for news of a contract extension for head coach Kevin Wilson. That news is surely coming after the coach led the university to six victories and a bowl game in the fifth year of his seven-year contract. For recruiting purposes, a football coach needs to have more security than two years left on his original contract.

Bigger news out of the university last week was the one-year extension of IU President Michael McRobbie’s contract through June 30, 2021. The head coach of the university system has achieved a record of successes — victories if you’d prefer — and IU now can look forward to stable leadership beyond the end of the decade.

McRobbie’s contract was set to expire during the university’s bicentennial year of 2020. The extension allows for IU to celebrate the entire bicentennial year under McRobbie and not be distracted for an intense search for its next leader.

There should be plenty to celebrate. McRobbie outlined a Bicentennial Strategic Plan at his State of the University address in 2014. The ambitious plan includes visionary strategies for academics, research and service, the three legs on which a successful research university stands.

The extension will allow McRobbie to see his plan through.

If McRobbie retires the last day of his contract, he will serve as IU’s president for 14 years. That’s well over the length of a typical university presidency. The 2011 American Council on Education survey of college and university presidents put the average at seven years, down from 8.5 years in the organization’s 2006 survey. That tenure is likely even shorter now.

McRobbie’s first eight-plus years at IU have been marked by academic transformation, research achievement and wise capital investment. The trustees have acknowledged that with the extension, which is well deserved.

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