August began with a series of strategic discussions at the school, campus, and university levels, and concluded with the return of students and their energy to our campus. Among others we welcomed bright achievers from the Midwest focused on careers in university advancement, a Fulbright Scholar from Hungary, an executive master’s student who runs a large local performing arts organization, and a Ph.D. student who helped run an educational program at Beijing Normal University. As in any great educational institution, a key part of our students’ education depends on what they learn from each other. And I think there is a wealth of opportunity based on the variety of interesting paths our students have taken in coming to us.
The past month also took me to Kansas City, where I visited with the Hall Family Foundation, the Kauffman Foundation, and our partners at U.S. Trust. In Indianapolis, we enjoyed the visit of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute Council, who were welcomed by First Lady Laurie Burns McRobbie at the Lilly House. It was a spirited gathering of exceptionally talented and dedicated leaders in the sector—a testament to the leadership of our Eileen Lamb O’Gara Chair, Deb Mesch. We were also visited by Dr. Fahad Alzumai from the Nohoudh Trust in Kuwait, who is keen for us to engage with him on a series of projects that would improve philanthropy in the Middle East and beyond.
Thanks to Jerre Stead of our Board of Visitors, our school participated in orchestrating a truly historical occasion on August 24 in San Francisco. Founding Dean Emeritus Gene Tempel joined President McRobbie and me in recognizing Chuck Feeney as the inaugural Stead Medal in International Philanthropy recipient. Mr. Feeney was for many years the anonymous funder and founder of the Atlantic Philanthropies that gave over $7 billion around the world as it promoted the notion of “giving while living,” the inspiration for the Giving Pledge started by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates. We were pleased that Mr. Feeney’s family and friends, including former Board of Visitors member Ray Handlan, were able to join in the award ceremony. As Mr. Feeney remarked “My cup runneth over,” I believe we witnessed an important moment for philanthropy and for the school.
I’m saddened to share that our former colleague and a former leader of Conner Prairie and the national museum scene, Pauline "Polly" Jontz Lennon, passed away recently. In her “retirement,” Polly served as an interim executive for several philanthropy institutions, including interim director of development and communications at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. A recipient of our Henry A. Rosso Medal in 2002, she was an inspiring leader and role model.
As we look to our meeting in a few weeks, we will be pleased to welcome our newest board member, Rebecca Lilly Brooks of Rye, NY. We are thrilled to have her join our community as she brings a vital set of skills and a deep dedication to our school.
I am looking forward to seeing you September 24. We will have some guests joining us and a speaker who will engage our students and you in a scholarship competition. And, of course, we look forward to showing off University Hall, our new building.