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McRobbies make major gift to support behavioral health services



BLOOMINGTON (March 22, 2023) – Indiana University Health today announced that Michael A. McRobbie and Laurie Burns McRobbie, Indiana University’s 18th president and first lady, respectively, have made a gift of $500,000 to IU Health to support behavioral health services at the IU Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC). IU Health will match the gift, bringing its impact to $1 million.


The gift is focused particularly on expanding and enhancing peer counseling and other mental health services for 18- to 34-year-old behavioral health patients – a demographic where there is high need among undergraduate and graduate college students.

The behavioral health facilities at the RAHC, located in both the Emergency Department and on the 6th floor of IU Health Bloomington Hospital, will be named "The Michael A. and Laurie Burns McRobbie Behavioral Health Center."


"In the 14 years that Michael and Laurie served as president and first lady of IU, IU made the physical and mental well-being of students a top priority, adopting strong policies and practices to bolster student success," said IU Health President and CEO Dennis Murphy. "This gift ensures that their personal commitment will continue not only for students, but now for all residents of south-central Indiana."


Members of this demographic, especially those who are students, are particularly vulnerable to depression, substance use disorder, eating disorders, achievement anxiety and impact and trauma resulting from racial, gender-based and other violence. In 2022, around 10,000 patients at the RAHC were seen for behavioral health issues, 30% of them ages 18 to 34. IU students can access mental health services at the IU Bloomington Student Health Center and other programs at IU, but IU Health Bloomington Hospital at the RAHC provides acute and emergency care.


"The mental health crisis among college students and younger people more generally, which abruptly worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, requires continuing urgent attention and action," said Michael McRobbie. "Far too many young people today are suffering from increasing levels of stress, anxiety, worry, burnout and depression, with large numbers experiencing severe and persistent psychological distress. We hope that this gift will make it easier for members of our community to find the critical resources and treatment they need to improve their mental and physical well-being, especially through peer counseling and therapy, which studies have repeatedly shown to be extremely effective.”


Laurie McRobbie added, "Michael and I are very pleased to make this gift to IU Health to help expand the range of behavioral health services available at IU Health Bloomington. Ensuring that peer-to-peer counseling is available not only adds to the services IU Health Bloomington offers, it’s also a wonderful opportunity for IU students who aim for careers in the health professions to get valuable practical experience. We hope our gift will help ensure that people get the help they need in the way that most enables them to overcome barriers to their personal and academic success."


In his former role as IU president and as vice chair of the IU Health Board of Directors, Michael McRobbie played a major role in the decision announced in 2015 to establish the RAHC on the IU Bloomington campus and in its subsequent development. The RAHC, which opened in 2021, co-locates the new, cutting-edge Bloomington hospital with IU Bloomington's Health Sciences Building, which consolidates IU's education programs in medicine, nursing, social work, and speech, language, and hearing sciences in one place.


"Michael’s advocacy for the RAHC as IU president further strengthened the relationship between IU and IU Health," said Murphy. "This gift will ensure that behavioral health services at the RAHC draw further on this relationship to help address this growing health concern."

The McRobbies have indicated a strong preference that the services made possible by their gift be provided by IU students who have been or are continuing behavioral health patients, or who are training to become behavioral health professionals and where this work could be part of their course requirements. It is their hope that this will help increase the number of behavioral health professionals, of which there is an urgent need.


To this end, IU Health will work to identify peer counselors in the Michael A. and Laurie Burns McRobbie Behavioral Health Center from IU health science units, including the schools of medicine, nursing, social work, public health and education. Brian Shockney, the IU Health South Central Region President stated, “These funds allow us to provide an important link to care that was piloted and demonstrated very positive results for both the peer counselors and those seeking care.”


This is the fourth gift of this size that the McRobbies have given, and it follows gifts to endow three professorships in IU's Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design, Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, and Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering. In addition, they have endowed four graduate fellowships.


McRobbie, who served as IU president from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2021, currently is university chancellor, president emeritus and university professor at IU. Laurie Burns McRobbie is an adjunct faculty member in the IU Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.


The McRobbies’ gift will be formally announced at an April 17 event at the RAHC in Bloomington. Media will receive an advisory with details closer to that date.


The gift will be facilitated by IU Health Foundation.

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