Indiana State University Newsroom

‘Unbounded Possibilities' initiative aims to advance university's distinction

January 24, 2011

Indiana State University has launched an effort to expand its distinctive programs initiative by focusing more on how quality programs, faculty, and staff can work in greater partnership to address societal needs.

Entitled "Unbounded Possibilities," the initiative embraces the need for greater internal collaboration since solutions to society's challenges do not conform nicely to specific disciplines or units, said Josh Powers, special assistant to the provost for academic affairs.

The initiative builds on a 2007 program funded by the Lilly Endowment that identified Indiana State's most distinctive and promising programs and set aside funds for their promotion and further development. The name "Unbounded Possibilities" is a metaphor emphasizing creative thinking for transcending traditional ways of doing things and setting high expectations, Powers said.

The centerpiece of the initiative is a five-year, $5 million internal grants program. Money for the program comes from an internal re-allocation of the university budget and will require no new state funding, said ISU President Dan Bradley.

"Unbounded Possibilities represents an investment by the university in its future and in the future of Indiana and is consistent with the goals of our five-year strategic plan. Many of our programs are indeed distinctive in the state, in the region and nationally. Many already work collaboratively to help our students succeed and meet community challenges. Encouraging and rewarding further collaboration is vital to continued success in today's higher education environment," Bradley said.

Jack Maynard, ISU provost and vice president for academic affairs, said society needs higher education more than ever, yet colleges and universities are not always able to best respond to those needs within existing structures.

"In the future, institutions must be effective at building a culture that recognizes the advantages of collaborating across units and disciplines and leveraging that for institutional mission and vision advancement. Whether building on any of numerous existing partnerships or forging new ones, Indiana State can meet this challenge," Maynard said.

Powers said Unbounded Possibilities recognizes that distinction is not only a function of what an institution does through its programs and activities but how it goes about aligning that effort so that it is "laser focused" on external needs.

"On a campus committed to community engagement, we are ideally positioned for success through this initiative," he said.

Connie McLaren, professor of operations management and analysis in the Scott College of Business, said collaboration "is exactly what many of our academic professional organizations are encouraging. This process has the potential to transform our experience. It will be fascinating for the campus to exchange ideas as we look for ways to address society's needs." McLaren and Powers served on a faculty-staff committee that developed the initiative.

Five to seven projects are expected to be supported via competitive grants. A two-month campus education and engagement period will culminate in the submission of concept papers on March 31. Following a campus review, concepts will be selected for full proposal development during the summer with selection of projects to be funded to occur in the fall.

Campus education and engagement to the initiative begins Feb. 1 with a day-long series of workshops led by David Hopkins, president of Wright State University, and culminates in a keynote speech at 4 p.m. in Hulman Memorial Student Union, Dede III. Hopkins is a former faculty member and administrator at Indiana State. A reception honoring him for his years of service to ISU and to the field of higher education immediately follows his speech.

More information on the Unbounded Possibilities initiative is available at

Contact: Josh Powers, special assistant to the provost for academic initiatives, Indiana State University, 812-237-3572 or

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or