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IUPUI Commencement

Tradition : Annual Events

Numerous annual events engage students, honor outstanding work, and contribute to campus life. A brief sample of these events:


The nearly 30,000 students on campus have one goal in common: graduating. Commencement is a celebration of the successful completion of a degree program, and the ultimate campus tradition. IUPUI's ceremony is rather unique, with the presidents and trustees of both Indiana University and Purdue University present to confer degrees. The first IUPUI commencement was held in May 1970, but individual school commencement ceremonies in Indianapolis have been held for nearly a century.

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Speech Night

A student presents her speech at Speech Night '08.

Speech Night is a tradition that's been going on for more than 35 years. Occurring at the end of both fall and spring semesters, the best speakers from each section of the R110 (Public Speaking) class present their persuasive speeches in front of an audience of more than 900 R110 students and faculty members.

International Festival

Students from all cultures come together at International Festival

The annual International Festival offers activities for young and old alike, including international music and dance, best-dressed contests, and games, arts, and crafts. Soak in the culture as you enjoy authentic food and unique cultural crafts. At the International Festival, IUPUI opens its doors to all to experience and enjoy the wide range of diversity present here.

Dance Marathon

Dance Marathon is now called Jagathon.

The Jagathon Dance Marathon is an annual IUPUI tradition hosted by the Student Foundation, to help raise money for the Riley Hospital for Children. The money raised is donated to Riley hospital to help cover children’s medical procedures, hospital stays, and any medical attention needed. The proceeds also give children the opportunity to attend Camp Riley free of charge.

Cesar Chavez Dinner

Cesar Chavez Dinner

The Cesar Chavez dinner is the first of its kind in Indiana and on the IUPUI campus. The Latino Student Association established this dinner as a celebration to honor Cesar Chavez, who was a labor rights activist back in the 1960s and worked for the advancement of the Latino community for fair wages and unionizing of Latino migrant workers. The dinner is held the last Sunday of March, the same weekend of his birthday, in the Campus Center. The celebration includes a guest speaker and awards presentation to recognize student, faculty, staff, and community leaders for their accomplishments with the Latino community.

Featured speakers at the Cesar Chavez Dinner:
2008 Baldemar Velaszuez
2009 Lt. Col. Consuelo Kickbusch

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Ball Hall Fall Festival

Ball Hall

Every year for the past six years IUPUI’s on-campus dorm, Ball Hall Residence, has held a mini fall fair festival to welcome new and returning residents of Ball Hall. Students can meet, mix, and mingle with other students and meet Ball Halls Resident Assistants, all while enjoying free food and refreshments as well as tours of the resident hall. Ball Hall Fall Festival helps everyone become familiar and comfortable with a place on campus that they can call home.

The Fountain Fest

Students letting out some energy at Fountain Fest.

The Fountain Fest is a tradition that IUPUI has carried and put on every year in the month of April. Sponsored by the Student Activities Programming Board (SAPB) every spring semester, students enjoy fun and educational social campus-wide events planned by student members of SAPB. The Fountain Fest tradition is also a way that IUPUI celebrates the coming of spring, and the Pyramid Fountain is turned on for all to see.

Black Student Union Scholarship Pageant

The BSU pageant

The very first scholarship pageant ever in IUPUI history was sponsored by the Black Student Union to promote leadership skills, fundraising, and networking. Although a rather new event, the Black Student Union plans on making the scholarship pageant an annual tradition. The Black Student Union Pageant also presents IUPUI students with the opportunity to participate in hopes of winning scholarships and prizes to further their education while also encouraging and motivating themselves and others.

Greek Rush

Phi Mu members encourage new students to pledge.

Greek Rush is a program that allows IUPUI students to extend their opportunities for student involvement on campus to build bridges towards their academic success. Students have the opportunity to meet with members of each organization, while also learning about the different types of philanthropy that each organization takes part in, along with their missions and other membership information.

Jag Jaunt

Jags a-jaunting.

Jag Jaunt is a walk-a-thon benefiting IUPUI women’s athletic scholarships. The IUPUI Athletics Department hosts this new annual event where participants take a one-hour walk around Michael A. Carroll Track and Soccer Stadium. Food, drinks and giveaways are available to all participants.

Top 100 Dinner

Participants of the 2008 Top 100 dinner.

IUPUI's commitment to honoring excellence is illustrated each spring at the IUPUI Top 100 student recognition dinner. The top 100 undergraduate students (juniors and seniors) are honored at the event; from that pool, the top 10 men and top 10 women are selected. Nominations for the annual honor roll are judged by a review committee of faculty, staff and alumni, as well as the top male and top female student.

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Beering Award and Lecture

World leaders in biomedical and clinical research are honored each year by the IU School of Medicine with the Steven C. Beering Award. The award is named for the former dean of the School of Medicine (1974-83), who later served as president of Purdue University (West Lafayette).

Four Beering recipients have also won Nobel prizes in physiology or medicine:

  • Elizabeth H. Blackburn, PhD, a molecular biologist, received a 2009 Nobel Prize and the 2003 Beering Award.  
  • Steven C. Beering, 1977
  • Harold E. Varmus, MD, former director of the NIH and a genetics researcher, received the 1989 Nobel Prize and the 1997 Beering Award
  • Edwin G. Krebs, MD, a pharmacologist, and Edmond H. Fischer, PhD, a biochemist, jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in 1992 and the 1991 Beering Award
  • Alfred G. Gilman, MD, PhD, a molecular neuropharmacologist, was a 1994 Nobel prize winner and a 1990 Beering Award  recipient.      

For a full list of Beering Award recipients, see

Spirit of Philanthropy Luncheon

For nearly two decades, IUPUI has honored the men, women, families and organizations whose contributions to the campus have helped make IUPUI an important part of the Indianapolis community and infrastructure.

Each of IUPUI's schools and centers is eligible to honor one or two worthy individuals, corporations, foundations or other contributors whose generosity has made a difference in campus life.

The contributions take many forms, including donations of money or other resources, as well as time and participation in campus life and activities.

The luncheon is a collaboration between the IUPUI campus, the IU Foundation-Indianapolis and the Center on Philanthropy, a part of the IU School of Liberal Arts and based at IUPUI.

Edward C. Moore Symposium

The annual Edward C. Moore Symposium on Teaching Excellence is named for one of IUPUI's most influential academic leaders, former dean of the faculties Edward C. Moore. The annual event, IUPUI's oldest public event, delves into issues of effective teaching and learning. The Moore Symposium is a cornerstone of IUPUI's ongoing efforts to constantly improve the academic support we provide our students.

In addition to his faculty responsibilities, Moore was the founding director of the Peirce Edition Project, now a core part of the Institute for American Thought in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

» Event website
» Edward Moore Collection information

Joseph T. Taylor Symposium

Joseph T. Taylor

The Joseph T. Taylor Symposium is named for the first dean of the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI and one of the most revered figures in campus history. Taylor was a pivotal figure in IUPUI's early years, building ties with the community in large part due to his ability to communicate with many constituencies and interest groups.

The event focuses attention on issues of urban life, including education, environment, health, diversity, criminal justice, arts and culture, and more. The Taylor Symposium also has become the celebration of Taylor's commitment to diversity in all walks of life with the presentation of the annual Joseph T. Taylor Excellence in Diversity Awards.

Spirit & Place Festival

Explore arts and culture at the Spirit and Place Festival.

The annual Spirit & Place Civic Festival, originated and managed by The Polis Center in the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, has become a fixture on the fall arts & culture events calendar for the city of Indianapolis.

The festival brings together the Indianapolis community's diverse arts, humanities, civic and religious organizations and focuses their combined talents, interests and constituencies' attention on issues of community concern. The event has featured such notable participants as authors John Updike, Cornel West and Jane Smiley, plus Indianapolis natives Dan Wakefield and Kurt Vonnegut.

» Spirit & Place website

Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

For nearly four decades, the IUPUI Black Student Union has honored the memory of the late humanitarian Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a dinner and celebration. The event, born in 1971 as a campus event, has become the Indianapolis community's longest-running and most historic celebrations honoring Dr. King. The event has featured such dynamic speakers as Maya Angelou, Shirley Chisholm, Tavis Smiley and Dr. Benjamin Carter.

The gala has become a mainstay of the city's MLK Holiday celebration, but IUPUI has extended the day's events to honor another of King's passions: community service. On each of the last eight years, IUPUI students, staff and faculty gather together to serve area agencies and organizations that need volunteer support to accomplish such basic tasks as maintenance, grounds keeping and more through a "Day-On of Service" rather than a day off for a holiday.

Among the recent featured speakers at the MLK Gala:

1990 Maya Angelou
1991 Na'im Akbar
1992 Shirley Chisholm
1993 Bill Duke
1994 Mae Jemison
1995 Nathan McCall
1996 Dorothy Cotton
1997 Samuel Proctor
1998 Dr. Benjamin Hooks
1999 Dr. Lea Williams
2000 Dr. Henry Louis Gates
2001 Tavis Smiley
2002 Minnijean Brown Trickey
2003 Roslyn McCallister Brock
2004 Dr. Benjamin Carter
2005 Kevin Powell
2006 Mae Jemison
2007 Christopher Edley Jr.
2008 Nikki Giovanni
2009 Jeff Johnson

IUPUI Alumni Leadership Dinner

Each February, IUPUI honors outstanding alumni for their service to the campus and its alumni program during the IUPUI Alumni Leadership Dinner. The event includes the presentation of the prestigious Maynard K. Hine Medals, an honor named for the first chancellor of IUPUI and former dean of the School of Dentistry. Hine Medals have been awarded to outstanding alumni every year since 1974.

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»View past Hine Medal recipients