April is traditionally a month of celebration at IUPUI.
IUPUI Research Day opened the month with a celebration of discovery and advancing knowledge. Research Frontier Trailblazer Awards were given to:
- Associate Professor of Religious Studies Kelly Hayes for her work on Afro-Brazilian religious practices
- Associate Professor of Medicine Daniela Matei for discoveries related to the biology of ovarian cancer
- Associate Professor of Physical Therapy Stuart Warden for his work on the metabolism and reparative ability of bone
We followed it with our Civic Engagement Showcase on April 12 and the winners of the Chancellor's Awards and other awards for community engagement, including:
- Scott Armstrong, President of the Crooked Creek Community Heights Neighborhood Association, our community partner in Professor Susan Hyatt's ethnographic methods course, a service learning project that produced the student-authored publication Eastside Story: Portrait of a Neighborhood on the Suburban Frontier.
- Sheila Suess Kennedy, J.D., Professor of Law and Public Policy in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, who received the Faculty Award for Excellence. She is a frequent public speaker and contributor to popular periodicals, including the Indianapolis Star.
- Jeremy Williams, University College, a full-time staff member who received the 2010 Nan Bohan Civic Engagement Award for community service in a variety of organizations, including Damar Services and Indianapolis Children's Bureau.
We will round out the month with our annual Spirit of Philanthropy Luncheon on April 26, where each of our schools and units honor this year's major contributors.
Amidst the celebration of our work and those who support it, one announcement stands out: Ruth Lilly's generous estate gifts to the IU Center on Philanthropy and the Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI.
A woman of wide-ranging interests, with a deeply-felt commitment to philanthropy, Mrs. Lilly loved books and libraries, and many of her gifts reflect those interests. Her cumulative giving to IU during her lifetime totaled more than $30 million.
IU recognized her generosity in many ways. In 2004, we conferred the Doctor of Humane Letters on Mrs. Lilly at IUPUI's commencement ceremony, and Sandra and I visited her that year with a gift of art to memorialize her receiving the honorary doctorate.
As a child, Ruth Lilly attended Herron's Saturday School and maintained a lifelong interest in arts education that included a generous gift to the Washington-based advocacy group Americans for the Arts. Her estate gift of $2.7 million to the Herron School of Art and Design is evidence of that passion and will help support Herron's goal to be the best art school in the country.
Herron plans to use a portion of the gift to expand graduate degree programs in art therapy, ceramics, painting, and photography. The gift will also enable Herron to complete the funding for its main facility, Eskenazi Hall. The school will honor her by naming its administrative offices the Ruth Lilly Dean's Suite.
Mrs. Lilly's gifts attest to her belief in the power of an arts education to improve lives and communities. An aspiring poet, she made arts-related gifts to organizations big and small, including Poetry, a small Chicago-based magazine through which she has given an annual poetry prize since 1986. Her gift established the Poetry Foundation there.
The $8 million gift to the IU Center on Philanthropy will promote the study and practice of charitable giving, to which Mrs. Lilly devoted her life.
With Mrs. Lilly's gift, the center will establish the Ruth Lilly Professorship Program. This will provide matching funds to inspire other donors to create endowed faculty chairs. Recruiting and retaining leading national experts in philanthropy will build valuable programs that serve the nonprofit sector. This gift is the largest the Center on Philanthropy has ever received from an individual and will have an enduring impact by substantially expanding the center's capacity to help donors, volunteers, and nonprofits.
Ruth Lilly was a thoughtful and disciplined benefactor, who was determined to see her wealth put to good use. She inspired others with her generosity and desire to make the world better for people and communities. She has left a profound legacy that will continue to inspire people for generations to come, people who share her passion to live a meaningful life and leave the world a better place for their having been part of it.