"A Tribute to Leadership"

Honorary Degree Ceremony for James Dye
IU Northwest
October 23, 2009

Introduction: A List of Leaders

In 1967, Ray C. Thomas, Gary Attorney and Vice–President of the Board of Trustees of Indiana University, spoke at the first commencement exercise of the IU Northwest Campus in Gary. In his remarks, he mentioned names that some of you might recognize: Albert Fertsch, the first secretary of the Gary Center of Indiana University; Hugh Norman, the first executive secretary of the Calumet Center of Indiana University; Harold E. Burns, subsequent director of that same center; William Wirt, renowned educator, superintendent of the Gary schools, and founder of Gary College; Peter Mandich, Mayor of the City of Gary; and IU’s legendary 11th president Herman B Wells.

Within this list lies the history of the IU Northwest campus. That is a history that now includes many other names and many more chapters. Today, as we celebrate the many students who are achieving academic success, we are also celebrating leaders—past and present—who have transformed this campus from a dream in the early years of the twentieth century, to a vibrant and growing reality in these early years of the twenty-first century. Jim Dye, whom we are honoring this afternoon, is one of those leaders.

A Brief History of IU Northwest

The history of the IU Northwest campus dates back to 1917 when IU first offered extension classes in Gary, Hammond, and East Chicago. In 1922, IU established a permanent office—the Gary Center—in the Gary Memorial Auditorium. The Calumet Center was established in East Chicago in 1932. In 1957, the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Gary Center at Indiana University took place. At that event, President Wells expressed his gratitude for all of the support that made it possible to build what he called “a staunch, fine, and beautiful structure for higher education in Lake County.” That structure was Tamarack Hall, completed in 1959 and marking the establishment of what would, in 1963, officially become the IU Northwest campus.

Fifty Years of Change

Much has happened in the last fifty years, of course. Buildings like Marram Hall, Hawthorn Hall, and Dunes Medical/Professional Building have been constructed to provide classroom and laboratory space. In 2007, IU Northwest established the College of Health and Human Services, which has been so important to the campus as well as the Region. And this fall, enrollment on campus has increased to 5,560 students, up 16% from last year. Speaking more broadly, the vast changes in medicine, telecommunication, transportation, computing, and the economy that have swept the country over the last fifty years have truly made this a different world from the one some of us lived in back in 1959.

What Endures

But some things have not changed. As today’s convocation has demonstrated, students are still curious, creative, and ready to learn, and professors remain dedicated to the very best teaching and research. The Region still offers one of the warmest and most supportive environments for people from many different backgrounds seeking to further their education. In fact, IU Northwest is the most diverse IU campus, and over 70% of IU Northwest graduates stay in the Region after they earn their degrees. And even as the campus has expanded and changed, local leaders like Jim Dye remain committed to creating opportunities for students and helping to make IU Northwest the leading provider of higher education in northwest Indiana.

Conclusion: Paying Tribute to Jim Dye

This afternoon, we are paying tribute to Jim Dye, who has contributed in so many different ways to this state, to this community, and to Indiana University. He is a distinguished alumnus of IU, a former IU trustee, a generous supporter of students, and a trusted advisor to Chancellor Bergland, who will speak in more detail about him in just a moment. Perhaps most of all, Jim is the best kind of leader: one that shares his expertise with this and the next generation; one that views education as a vehicle for personal change and regional progress; one that is dedicated to helping students succeed; and one that is as generous with his time as he is with his resources.

Today, even as we honor Jim Dye, he brings honor to Indiana University by helping extend the great gift of education to students across the state. Please join me in thanking him for his great efforts.