Glenn W. Irwin, Jr.

Faces of IUPUI: Glenn W. Irwin, Jr.

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Chancellor Glenn W. Irwin, Jr. speaks at the groundbreaking of the Engineering and Techonology Building in 1975. Image courtesy of IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

Dr. Glenn W. Irwin, Jr. was appointed IUPUI's second chancellor in 1973, but his connection to Indiana University dates back much farther. Revered and respected for his kindhearted nature, Dr. Irwin's lasting impact on IUPUI cannot be overstated. Dr. Irwin graduated from the School of Medicine in the spring of 1944, one of two wartime classes that year, the result of the school's push to produce more doctors to serve the injured troops.

After an internship at Methodist Hospital and a partial residency at the IU Medical Center, he served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps before returning to finish his residency at the IU Medical Center. Dr. Irwin joined the School of Medicine's faculty in 1950 and became its dean in 1965. Four years later, he was present when the Indianapolis extensions of Indiana University and Purdue University merged to become IUPUI.

During his deanship, Dr. Irwin's focus on medical education resulted in the development of the "Indiana Plan" in the 1960s, the first comprehensive medical education program of its kind. The "Indiana Plan" established seven additional campuses where the first two years of medical education were taught in collaboration with the science faculty. In an effort to address physician shortages in underserved areas and to serve our aging population, the School of Medicine expanded the statewide system created by Dr. Irwin in 2012 by adding third- and fourth-year options to those campuses.

Under Dr. Irwin's leadership as chancellor, IUPUI experienced a dramatic physical transformation and significant growth in every aspect of the university. Enrollment grew 35% to more than 23,000 students; full-time faculty increased from about 800 to more than 1,300; sponsored research increased from $21 million to nearly $41 million; and $200 million in new construction was completed, including the Business/School of Public and Environmental Affairs building, the School of Law building, the iconic IU Natatorium and what is now the Michael Carroll Track and Soccer Stadium. Riley Hospital for Children and IU Hospital were each expanded, and both the Regenstrief Institute and the Ronald McDonald House were opened.

Several administrators dedicate the IU Natatorium by pouring buckets of water in it.
Former Chancellor Glenn Irwin looks over an artist's rendering of the Business/SPEA Building.
Former Chancellor Glenn Irwin sits with some students.

From top: Chancellor Irwin (far right) and several others at the Natatorium Pool Filling Party in 1982; Chancellor Irwin and former Dean of the Kelley School of Business Schuyler Otteson examine an artist's rendering of the proposed site of the new Business/School of Public and Environmental Affairs Building; Chancellor Irwin with some students, date unknown. Images courtesy of IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

After Dr. Irwin retired in 1986, he maintained his connection to IUPUI and his office in the medical school for decades. IUPUI established the Glenn W. Irwin, Jr., M.D. Experience Excellence Award and the Glenn W. Irwin, Jr., M.D. Research Scholar Award in his honor.

"Glenn Irwin deepened IUPUI's connections with the community in its critical early years, and remained dedicated to the success of the campus nearly a quarter century after having retired as chancellor," said former IUPUI Chancellor Charles Bantz. "He faithfully attended key IUPUI events, including the annual Employee Recognition Ceremony, when the Excellence Awards named for him are given."

Dr. Irwin continued to serve the Indianapolis community as a board member of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis and the Riley Children's Foundation. Dr. Irwin passed away on August 23, 2012 at the age of 92.