Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie presented the President’s Medal for Excellence to three professors Oct. 8 at the university’s Academic Excellence Dinner.
Those receiving medals were Anthony Droege, professor emeritus of art at Indiana University South Bend; Phillip Tennant, who retired in June from IUPUI’s Herron School of Art and Design; and Portia Maultsby, professor of folklore and ethnomusicology in IU Bloomington’s College of Arts and Sciences.
The highest honor an IU president can bestow, the President’s Medal for Excellence recognizes, among other criteria, distinction in public service, service to IU, and extraordinary merit and achievement in the arts, humanities, sciences, education and industry. The medal itself is a reproduction in silver of the symbolic jewel of office worn by IU’s president at ceremonial occasions.
“At Indiana University, we recognize that the disciplines that comprise the arts and humanities remain central to our ability to discover, collaborate, create and innovate, and we will continue to invest in and support them,” McRobbie said. “These three Indiana University faculty members, Portia Maultsby, Phillip Tenant and Tony Droege, who are from three different IU campuses, exemplify IU’s continued strength and excellence in the arts and humanities. They have each reached the pinnacle of academic achievement in their widely different fields, and they have also been recognized by their peers around the world for their tireless dedication and tremendous contributions to their disciplines.
“We are extremely pleased to recognize and honor their outstanding intellectual achievements, their commitment to excellence in every endeavor they have pursued and their tireless dedication to enriching the life of the university.”
Droege retired in 2008 after 37 years on IU South Bend’s faculty, where he served as chair of the Fine Art Department from 1982 to 1990. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Penn State and his Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Iowa and taught at Murray State University in Kentucky before Harold Zisla hired him to teach painting at IU South Bend in 1971.
Primarily known for his large oil paintings, Droege also works in watercolor and a variety of drawing media. In recent years he has made serious explorations in landscape and still life.
Maultsby, who has been at IU Bloomington since 1971, is the Laura Boulton Professor of Folklore and Ethnomusicology. She received her Ph.D. in ethnomusicology and her master’s degree in musicology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and a bachelor’s degree in piano, theory and composition from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kan.
Her research interests include popular music, the music industry, African American music and musical aesthetics and transnationalism. She is also director of the Archives of African American Music and Culture.
Maultsby received an award in 2011 from the National Association for the Study and Performance of African American Music, and serves as an advisory board member for the Institute for Popular Music at the New York-based University of Rochester. She has served as researcher or advisor for various video and radio documentaries for the National Afro-American Museum, PBS, Radio Smithsonian and NPR, among others. She also founded and conducted the Indiana University Soul Revue, a touring student ensemble.
Tennant was recruited to the Herron School of Art and Design in 1974 to launch a woodworking program for art majors. It began as a small struggling program in the basement of the old Herron Museum building on 16th Street in Indianapolis. Under his watch, the program tripled the number of students and broadened its curriculum. In 2008, Herron launched new MFA degrees and has attained national prominence among the top furniture design programs.
Before joining the Herron School, Tennant earned his degree from Alfred University in New York and studied under master woodworker and furniture designer Wendell Castle.
Tennant’s creative activities and scholarly work have been focused on designing contemporary fine art furniture and the exploration of material and process. His work has been exhibited nationally and featured in various publications, including Fine Woodworking, American Craft Magazine and Furniture Studio. He also conducts many workshops as a visiting artist and has received numerous public and private commissions.