An Insider’s Look at the Alumni Leaders Dinner

Volunteer leadership is ingrained in the DNA of the IUPUI campus and its alumni. Each year hundreds of alumni give their time and resources to further the promise of an urban university that refines and supports a community of students from every walk of life. In 1973, representatives of the constituent society council at IUPUI recognized a need for a campus-wide award which would acknowledge the significant contributions of individual alumni in support of the campus and its programs. The committee determined that the award should be named after the first Chancellor of IUPUI, Maynard K. Hine.  Douglas H. White Sr. was the first recipient and in 1974, the annual award ceremony, Alumni Leaders Dinner, was born. This year the award will celebrate 45 years coinciding with the 50th anniversary of IUPUI’s campus. As alumni return to campus to honor the selfless volunteer leadership of all our graduates, we look to three outstanding individuals that have contributed to this campus and city community in unquantifiable ways.

Each year the pool of nominees is bursting with stories of selfless acts, countless volunteer hours and leaders from across the IUPUI campus. This year’s pool was no different. We are pleased to award the 2019 Maynard K. Hine Medal to Dr. Louise E. Goggans, Marjorie J. Kurt, and Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Charles R. Bantz.  Read about some of their outstanding contributions. 

Behind the Scenes

On IUPUI’s campus tucked away on the first floor of University Hall, the office of Alumni Relations quietly and consistently creates events and programs that support, honor and connect IUPUI’s alumni back to their campus. The phone rings just a few weeks after the 2018 Alumni Leaders Dinner:  It’s Chelsie Roberts, associate director of events on the IUPUI campus.  She is reaching out to me as programs assistant and lead of the Alumni Leaders Dinner to set a meeting to review the survey results. The arduous process of crafting a quality event from the second a guest enters the event space always starts with the previous year’s events and numbers. We begin discussing how to improve, what to increase, and what should stay the same. The work of planning another Alumni Leaders Dinner each year is exciting, yet we always try for improvements and find better ways to create a truly unique experience. Over the next 11 months countless meetings, emails, and ideas will be thrown back and forth while my team and I try to stay true to the brand of IUPUI and create an event worthy of those that will receive the honor.

It’s not until the fall that the nominations are solicited and December when the nomination packets are sent out to the selection committee. After much review and spirited debate, names rise to the top of a very competitive field. Then, with great honor, Andrea Simpson, assistant vice chancellor for alumni relations, sends a letter that begins by stating, “I want to be one of the first to congratulate you on being selected as a recipient of the Maynard K. Hine Medal. This is the highest honor bestowed by the Alumni Association on the IUPUI campus and you are joining a distinguished group of recipients.

The recipients have been selected, the edits and additions from the previous year have been added, and the team begins to kick into high gear. From centerpieces, to napkins, invitations to programs — we work quietly and diligently to ensure each recipient and alumni volunteer receives the recognition they so deserve.

It’s January 2019 and the Alumni Leaders Dinner is fewer than two months away when I make my way over to the frame shop to select the frame boxes that will showcase the esteemed Maynard K. Hine medallion. Working closely with the artist to line the frame box and matte down to an eighth of an inch, I select the matte colors with approval from Andrea and gladly check off one of the many things on an ever-growing to do list. The medallions are delivered within the next two weeks and each one is carefully engraved and reviewed with the names of the 2019 recipients.

When the evening finally arrives every last detail of the event would have been reviewed and then double checked. The whole office of Alumni Relations will come together in a seemingly effortless manner to welcome guests, pass out nametags, arrange centerpieces, and spot check sound and lighting — among countless other tasks. This is all done with a passion and excitement to celebrate what makes this award and campus something truly exceptional: the volunteers and their commitment to making a significant impact on the IUPUI campus.

Why it’s Important

The importance of this award is directly connected to what it means to be an IUPUI Jag:  volunteerism and community leadership. Students spend 1,000,000+ hours each year engaging with community partners through courses and student-led initiatives.  More than 700 community organizations have engaged with IUPUI through research, service learning, volunteer projects, and experiential learning. Each graduate leaves a lasting impact on the campus, city and community long after they have received their diploma. This award recognizes those volunteer leaders who continue to build on their connection to IUPUI after graduation and continue to shape a legacy of altruistic influence. All Jags find a special way to contribute to the campus while they are students, and this award recognizes those who truly go far above the expected, pushing our campus to great heights.

Here’s to 45 great years of the Alumni Leaders Dinner and to 50 outstanding years of IUPUI.  Feel free to reach out to me via email at tknuteso@iupui.edu or by phone at (317) 274-5063.

Posted in Events

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