The REN-ISAC: the untold story
Co-hosted with the Luddy School
View the recording
This year was the 20th anniversary of the founding of the enormously successful Research and Education Networking Information and Analysis Center (REN-ISAC) at Indiana University. It was officially founded February 21, 2003, with the signing of an agreement between IU and the then-National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) in the Department of Homeland Security. This agreement was signed by myself, as the then-IU vice president for information technology, and Admiral Jim Plehal, the then-deputy director of the NIPC. Its membership has grown to over 750 higher education institutions globally, and it now plays a key role in the cybersecurity of this sector.
However, the complete story of the founding of the REN-ISAC dates back earlier to late 2000 and is largely unknown and untold. The REN-ISAC in its final form emerged out of a complex series of events and activities during 2001 and 2002.
This talk was given to mark the 20th anniversary of the REN-ISAC and described some of this history. But it also saught to illustrate how the sustained strategic investments and initiatives in cybersecurity dating right back to IU’s response to its first true modern cybersecurity incident in early 1997, and subsequent initiatives and investments in advanced high-performance networking, were key factors that enabled IU to establish the REN-ISAC.
It also paid tribute to all who have worked so hard over the last 20 years to make the REN-ISAC so successful.
Michael A. McRobbie served as the 18th president of Indiana University from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2021. Prior to stepping down from the IU presidency, he was among the country's longest-serving presidents of a major public research university.
He was appointed university chancellor on July 1, 2021, the position held by IU’s legendary Herman Wells from 1962 to 2000. McRobbie is only the third person to be appointed to this position in IU’s 200-year history. This appointment recognized his extensive past achievements and contributions to IU, and anticipates his continued work in support of the university's core missions. He also holds the titles of president emeritus and university professor.
Among the major achievements of McRobbie's 14-year tenure as president, were:
- A 175% increase in student financial aid to ensure an IU education remained affordable.
- Substantially improved graduation rates.
- Doubling the diversity of the student body and making IU a more inclusive institution.
- The largest and most comprehensive academic restructuring in IU's history, during which 10 new schools were established.
- Record external research funding, the largest in the state.
- Establishing of the Grand Challenges Program to improve Hoosier quality of life.
- Substantial increase in patent applications and intellectual property commercialization.
- Making IU the state’s leading institution for four-year and graduate on-line education by establishing IU Online, which now has over 200 online degrees and certificates.
- National leadership in IT services and infrastructure.
- Re-invigoration of IU’s global engagement and programs.
- Continuing and strengthening IU's longstanding commitment to excellence in the arts and humanities.
- Completion of more than 200 major construction, renovation, or maintenance projects across all campuses with a total value approaching $2.7 billion.
- Establishing the $500 million IU Health Regional Academic Health Center on the IU Bloomington campus.
- Almost completely eliminating $1 billion of accumulated deferred maintenance.
- Establishing strong and stable leadership and management for IU Bloomington Athletics and completion of the $250 million athletics master plan
- Completion of the record IU Bicentennial Campaign, the largest fundraising campaign in IU’s history, which raised nearly $4 billion from more than 320,000 donors.
McRobbie also oversaw the development of The Bicentennial Strategic Plan for Indiana University, a comprehensive set of strategic initiatives for all IU's campuses which will serve as a foundation for the university's next 100 years of excellence.
McRobbie joined IU in 1997 as the university’s first vice president for information technology and chief information officer. In 2003, he was appointed to the additional position of vice president for research. And in 2006, he was named interim provost and vice president for academic affairs for IU’s Bloomington campus.
As president, McRobbie chaired the board of the IU Foundation, responsible for IU’s fundraising campaigns, and served as vice chair of the board of IU Health, the largest hospital system in Indiana with an operating budget of over $6 billion.
McRobbie is university professor and holds faculty appointments in computer science, philosophy, cognitive science, informatics, and computer technology. He is a computer scientist and philosopher and has been an active researcher in high performance computing and networking, artificial intelligence, automated reasoning, and various areas of logic. He has been principal investigator on numerous large grants totaling in excess of $100 million, has published a number of books and articles, and has served on many editorial boards and conference committees.
A native of Australia, McRobbie became a U.S. citizen in 2010 and now holds dual American and Australian citizenship. He holds a B.A. with first class honors from the University of Queensland and a Ph.D. from the Australian National University.
McRobbie has served on numerous national and international committees in many areas of higher education, science, research, national security, and related fields. He has chaired the boards of the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Big Ten Athletics Conference, and Internet2, and served on the board of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU). He served as co-chair of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on the Future of Voting which produced the highly influential report Securing the Vote: Protecting American Democracy.
McRobbie is an elected fellow or member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Australian Academy of Humanities, and the Council on Foreign Relations. He has been awarded six honorary doctorates and has received numerous honors and awards from universities and institutions around the world.