Indiana University Trustees Table Vote on Kinsey Institute’s Future in Light of Funding Challenge

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – NOVEMBER 8: The statue of Alfred Kinsey at Indiana University on November 8, 2023 in Bloomington, Indiana. The IU administration has proposed separating the institute from the university, and the board of trustees will vote on whether or not to do so in a meeting this week in Indianapolis. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

Staff report

Indianapolis, Indiana – November 10, 2023

The Indiana University Board of Trustees opted to postpone a critical vote on Friday regarding the future of the Kinsey Institute, citing the need to navigate recent legislative changes that prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to support the renowned research institution. The decision was made during a Board meeting held on November 10, 2023.

The proposed resolution would have allowed the university to establish a nonprofit entity to fund and manage a limited portion of the Kinsey Institute’s functions, traditionally supported by IU’s general fund. This move was prompted by a new Indiana law restricting the use of taxpayer funds for the Kinsey Institute, necessitating an alternative funding mechanism.

W. Quinn Buckner, chair of the Board of Trustees, emphasized the university’s commitment to upholding the Kinsey Institute’s legacy amid the funding challenges.

“Earlier this year, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation that prohibited the university from using taxpayer dollars to support the renowned Kinsey Institute. Against this backdrop and to permanently protect the Kinsey Institute and its mission, Indiana University requires a mechanism to fund and operate the small piece of Kinsey Institute operations that have been supported through the university’s general fund,” said Buckner.

Contrary to concerns that the proposal might lead to the separation of the Kinsey Institute from Indiana University, Buckner clarified that the proposal aimed to preserve the Institute intact. Only a fraction of administrative and operational functions would have been delegated to the proposed nonprofit entity.

“While some have viewed this as separating the entirety of the Kinsey Institute from Indiana University, let me be clear: The proposal we considered today would keep the Kinsey Institute intact and very much present at Indiana University,” Buckner affirmed.

President Pamela Whitten echoed this sentiment, expressing her concerns about the legislation’s precedent while affirming the university’s dedication to sustaining the Kinsey Institute’s global reputation in research and scholarship.

“Singling out and restricting funding for a specific research institute sets a troubling precedent. But the university is committed to the ongoing world-renowned research and robust scholarship conducted by IU faculty and the Kinsey Institute. Your decision this morning will provide us invaluable time to work together,” President Whitten stated.

The decision to table the proposal was welcomed by Kinsey Institute faculty and staff, as conveyed by Provost and Executive Vice President Rahul Shrivastav in a message to the Institute’s members.

“The Board’s decision provides us invaluable time to work together, and with experts, fellow faculty and staff, alumni and friends, and other key stakeholders, to consider how best to continue the legacy of the Kinsey Institute while complying with state law,” wrote Shrivastav.

The IU administration, including President Whitten and Provost Shrivastav, reassured the Kinsey Institute community of their commitment to finding a solution that ensures the Institute’s continued presence at Indiana University.

“President Whitten and I want to be clear: It has always been our commitment to create a solution that will ensure the Kinsey Institute and its collections remain at Indiana University,” Shrivastav affirmed.

The IU Board of Trustees plans to revisit the topic at a future meeting, providing an opportunity for further collaboration and deliberation on the future funding model for the Kinsey Institute.

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