Statement on the passing of Tom Lofton
Indiana University has lost an extraordinary friend and supporter with the passing of Tom Lofton. His career, which had its foundation as a graduate of Indiana University, was marked by enormous success that he used to help positively affect the lives of countless Hoosiers through his work as an attorney, and for the past two decades as chairman of Lilly Endowment.
Tom had an unsurpassed passion for education and was one of IU’s most active alumni, notably at the IU Maurer School of Law, where he helped form the school’s Board of Visitors in the mid-1960s.
Over the years, IU has recognized Tom with many of its most prestigious honors, including an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, the Distinguished Alumni Service Award and the Thomas Hart Benton Medallion. Those awards are a testament to his unwavering commitment to IU and to the university’s affection, appreciation and respect for Tom and his outstanding accomplishments.
In recognition of Lilly Endowment’s extraordinary impact on Indiana University and the state under Tom’s leadership, in 2011 IU awarded the endowment the University Medal -- IU’s highest award given only 16 times in its history.
"I first met Tom not long after I arrived in Indiana more than 18 years ago and saw him quite regularly thereafter,” IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. “He was one of the most remarkable men I have ever met. He had a razor-sharp forensic intelligence, great clarity of expression and was formidable in his ability to penetrate to the heart of any matter.
“But all this was mixed with the kindest and most solicitous manner, an enviable courtly bearing and a deep and abiding humanity. It was one of the great honors of my life to have known him. The IU community offers its most profound sympathy to Betty, his wife of 50 years, as well as to his entire family. We have lost a unique man.”