Greeted by a huge show of support, the president of Indiana University makes his first trip to Evansville since the university's Board of Trustees selected the downtown Evansville site for it's new medical school.
Dr. Michael McRobbie was the keynote speaker at the Rotary Club meeting Tuesday afternoon. He received several standing ovations from the largest crowd to ever attend a Rotary Club meeting, officials said. In his speech, Dr. McRobbie applauded the work of numerous organizations who helped make the downtown medical school site possible.
McRobbie said the entire Indiana University community is excited to be a part of the continued growth of downtown Evansville.
After taking a few pictures and shaking dozens of hands, McRobbie toured the medical school site for the first time. McRobbie, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and about a dozen others hopped on a METS trolley bus and made their way to the medical school site.
Mayor Winnecke and McRobbie spent much of their time looking around the site and talking about the future.
"We looked at five general sites downtown," Winnecke said. "As the process went on, it became more and more apparent that this was the best site."
The $69.5 million medical school project will feature 18-hundred students on the day it opens which would likely be in 2017, officials said.
"There are a lot of wheels in motion but it's all going very, very well," Winnecke said.
Overall, McRobbie was very impressed with the synergy that the downtown site will bring.
"I was really struck with how the site here is so beautifully located to the hotel, apartments, the Ford Center," McRobbie said. "It's going to be an exciting and vibrant place to live and work. All of the organizations that are here at the moment or will be located here... will all compliment each other and build off each other. It will get that effect of the whole being greater than the sum of it's parts.
"We need people to start visualizing what downtown looks like today because in five years it won't reflect it at all," Winnecke said. "It will totally change the vibe of not just downtown but the entire city."
On Thursday, the Indiana Commission on Higher Education will vote on whether to 'release' $2 million in state funding to help plan the project. That money has already been allocated in the state budget. Further funding could come from the Indiana General Assembly during it's next session.