"A Farewell Tribute to Ruth J. Person"

Ruth Person Farewell Reception
Alumni Hall
IU Kokomo
Kokomo, Indiana
August 1, 2008


Thank you all for joining us this evening as we bid farewell to Chancellor Ruth J. Person. Nights like tonight are bittersweet occasions as we reflect on Ruth’s tremendous accomplishments and wish her the very best as she continues her career as Chancellor of the University of Michigan, Flint campus.

Tonight it is my honor to help pay tribute to Ruth, who has served as Chancellor of IU Kokomo since 1999. During those nine years, and really throughout her decades of service to the academy, Ruth has brought a combination of dedication, tenacity, and candor, which have made her an invaluable asset to the Kokomo campus and to the University as a whole.

Career Highlights

To highlight all of Ruth’s accomplishments here in Kokomo would be time-consuming indeed. I will mention just a few that will help convey what a tremendous impact she has had on this campus and this university. With Ruth’s extensive expertise in Academic Affairs, she has focused some of her energy on the campus’ academic programs, implementing fourteen new academic programs in wide range of areas. Under her leadership, the campus has developed freshman learning communities, a new student induction ceremony, and expanded curricular and co-curricular activities, among other achievements. Opportunities have also expanded for non-traditional students thanks to accelerated evening and multi-format course offerings, an effort spearheaded by now Interim Chancellor Stuart Green.

Ruth’s efforts also helped lead to expanded facilities for faculty development and student learning. The campus developed a Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment and increased the number of resident, full-time faculty members by 25 percent.

In addition, Hunt Hall, an award-winning facility for science education, was dedicated in 2002, and two new lecture halls were completely renovated to enhance the teaching and learning environment. Adding to those magnificent facilities, IU Kokomo has also greatly improved its IT infrastructure and has added state-of-the-art technology in classrooms, conference rooms, and lecture halls.

These kinds of changes reflect the remarkable growth that has taken place during Ruth’s tenure as Chancellor. They offer testimony to her skill as a collaborative and visionary leader, but these improvements are only part of the story of Ruth’s great success.

Community Involvement

Another part of that story is Ruth’s deep involvement in her community. Mayor Goodnight’s proclamation begins to suggest the esteem in which this great community holds her and the impact she has made here. Commissioner Bagwell’s presentation of the Distinguished Hoosier Award is testimony to Ruth’s impact on the entire state. She has served on the advisory boards of organizations ranging from the YWCA to the Kokomo/Howard County Public Library, from the United Way of Howard County to St. Joseph’s Hospital, and these are just a few among many. Ruth’s energy and drive make this deep community involvement possible.

An Inspiration

Finally, those who know Ruth know of her candor. I understand that during her tenure as Vice President for Academic Affairs at San Angelo State University in Texas, Ruth once said that you could fit all female senior university administrators into one phone booth.1 The statement may sound funny because it is so unexpected. It reflects Ruth's willingness to articulate what is so often left unspoken within the academy. That willingness has made Ruth a force for change within the University. It also makes her an inspiration to many of those around her.

As the 6th leader at IU Kokomo and its 4th chancellor, Ruth was the second woman to hold that position. As she moves on to become the 7th chancellor of the University of Michigan, Flint campus, she will be the first woman to hold that position.

President’s Medal

In recognition of the depth of Ruth’s dedication to Indiana University and to the Kokomo community, it is my great pleasure to present her with the highest honor an Indiana University president can bestow.

Ruth, would you please join me at the podium? The President’s Medal for Excellence is a reproduction in fine silver of the symbolic jewel of office worn by Indiana University’s president at ceremonial occasions. Three precious stones within the jewel represent the university’s cultivation of reading, writing, and arithmetic, as well as the arts, sciences, and humanities.

Criteria for recipients of this honor include distinction in public service, service to Indiana University, achievement in a profession, and/or extraordinary merit and achievement in the arts, humanities, sciences, education, and industry.

The President’s Medal for Excellence is accompanied by a scroll that reads: Indiana University gratefully recognizes the exemplary contributions of Ruth J. Person, Chancellor of Indiana University Kokomo from 1999 to 2008, by bestowing upon her the President’s Medal in recognition of sustained excellence in service, achievement, and leadership.2 Given this first day of August, 2008, in Kokomo, Indiana.

Source Notes

  1. “Ruth J. Person Nominated as the Next Chancellor for University of Michigan-Flint.” Mlive.com. Accessed 18 July 2008. Posted 29 May 2008.
  2. Indiana University gratefully recognizes the exemplary contributions of Ruth J. Person, Chancellor [of] Indiana University Kokomo from 1999 to 2008, by bestowing upon her the President's Medal in recognition of sustained excellence in service, achievement, and leadership.