Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

Barbara Coffman
IU Foundation

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fellows Program at IU to honor President Emeritus John W. Ryan

Oct. 26, 2006

John Ryan

IU President Emeritus John W. Ryan

Print-Quality Photo

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University President Adam W. Herbert announced today (Oct. 26) that a new and generous public affairs fellowship program has been established in honor of President Emeritus John W. Ryan. The John W. Ryan Fellowships, expected to quickly become among the nation's most competitive, will attract promising graduate students from all over the world to IU's School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

"It is appropriate," said Herbert, "that this fellowship program will be housed in a school of international renown. It honors a man who is respected throughout the world for his remarkable work in the higher education and public policy arenas."

"John Ryan served Indiana University extremely well as a professor, vice president and chancellor of regional campuses and, for 16 years, as its president," said Herbert. "His presidential legacy is significant. He restructured the institution and transformed IU into a multi-campus university that serves every region of the state. He forged numerous international relationships for IU, making it a truly global university. He made enormous contributions to higher education in the United States and abroad.

"President Ryan has spent his life uniting people and societies through a shared commitment to education, knowledge and public service," Herbert said.

SPEA is a world leader among peer institutions. U.S. News & World Report has ranked SPEA Bloomington third in the nation among the best graduate public affairs programs.

"When he was president of Indiana University, John Ryan was instrumental in the creation of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs," said Astrid Merget, the school's dean. "This is a tribute and a thank you to a great man for his vision and leadership."

The highly competitive fellowships will be awarded to students studying public affairs, environmental science or pursuing a joint degree. As a part of the program, each fellow will work closely with a state or local government agency or with a nonprofit organization. They will analyze key issues, and study and recommend solutions and courses of action for an Indiana community.

"John believed that it was the responsibility of Indiana University to serve the state, the nation and the world," said Merget. "The service component of the fellows program is designed to do just that, and to prepare students for future positions of leadership."

The program is funded by more than $1 million in contributions. Earnings from the endowment and matching funds from the university will enable the school to award four $25,000 fellowships annually when fully implemented.

"Gifts were offered enthusiastically by many, many alumni and friends of IU who know and admire John Ryan," said Curt Simic, president of the IU Foundation. "John served as chairman of the foundation board during his presidency and continues as a board member to this day. Our board of directors particularly values his insight and his experience."

Simic praised the fundraising effort led by foundation board members Donald C. "Danny" Danielson and Alan Gilman.

Danielson, vice chairman of City Securities Corp. in Indianapolis, served IU as a trustee from 1959 to 1980. He was chair of the Board of Trustees when Ryan was named president in 1971.

"John is so extraordinary in character and loyalty. I admire him tremendously. He was a great leader," said Danielson.

Recalling the vitality of the university under Ryan's leadership, Danielson praised the many distinctions of Ryan's era. "It was a time of growth and excitement. There was a sense that everything was moving," said Danielson. "Great things were happening, and IU was blooming."

During that time, 37 faculty members were named Guggenheim Fellows and three were named MacArthur Fellows. The IU Southeast campus at New Albany opened as did IU East in Richmond. Numerous programs and schools were created, including the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, the School of Journalism, the School of Continuing Studies and the School of Optometry.

The Indiana University Black Culture Center was founded under Ryan's watch. Men's teams in swimming, basketball and soccer each won two NCAA championships, and the women's tennis team claimed the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) national championship title. The football team was invited to two bowl games and won the Holiday Bowl in 1979.

According to Gilman, chairman of Steak 'n Shake, it was easy to raise funds for the Ryan Fellows program.

"John was a highly effective president," he said. "He was a good administrator who was readily accepted by the many publics a president encounters in his work. He was self-effacing, and he involved himself in a host of community and civic activities. His career after he left the presidency was equally distinguished.

"He has joined the ranks of illustrious elder statesmen of the academic world," Gilman said.

About SPEA:

The IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs, located on eight campuses, is committed to teaching, research and service in areas such as public and nonprofit management, public policy, environmental science, criminal justice, arts administration and health administration. The school maintains continuing relationships with a large number of public agencies at all levels of government; public and private hospitals and health organizations; and nonprofit organizations and corporations in the private sector. SPEA has earned national distinction for innovative educational programs that combine administrative, social, economic, financial and environmental disciplines.

U.S. News & World Report has ranked SPEA Bloomington third in the nation among the best graduate public affairs programs (environmental science is not yet ranked). Four areas of concentration ranked in the top ten -- first in non-profit management; first in environmental policy and management; second in public finance and budgeting; third in public management/administration.

About John Ryan:


University of Utah, B.A., 1951; Indiana University, M.A., 1958, Ph.D., 1959; and 16 honorary degrees


  • Research analyst in the Department of Revenue for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 1954-55
  • Assisted in establishing the graduate public administration program at the University of Thammsat in Bangkok, Thailand, 1955-57
  • Faculty member in political science and associate director of the Bureau of Government, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1958-62
  • Executive Assistant to the President of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1962-63
  • Vice President for Academic Affairs, Arizona State University, 1963-65
  • Founding Chancellor, University of Massachusetts-Boston, 1965-68
  • Vice President and Chancellor for Regional Campuses, Indiana University, 1968-71
  • President, Indiana University, 1971-87
  • Interim President, Florida Atlantic University, 1989
  • Interim President, University of Maryland at Baltimore, 1994
  • Interim Chancellor and then Chancellor, State University of New York System, 1996-2000


  • President Emeritus, Indiana University
  • Professor Emeritus of Public and Environmental Affairs, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University
  • IU Foundation Board of Directors

Professional activities, including writing, speaking, and consulting:

Among other commitments, Ryan has served as president of the North Central Association of College and Secondary Schools; chairman of the Association of American Universities; vice chairman of the Board of Governors of Public Broadcasting Services; Board of Directors, National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges; Board of Directors of the American Council on Education; and the Midwest Universities Consortium for International Activities.


Among other accomplishments during his career, Ryan has been credited with:

  • Being the first chairman of the NCAA President's Committee, which monitored issues such as admissions standards, academic progress, graduation rates of athletes and integrity in recruiting.
  • Playing a significant role in advancing public broadcasting as a member for 10 years of the Board of Governors of PBS.
  • Establishing research and education exchange agreements with thirty-one universities in sixteen countries and being personally instrumental in forging many of these agreements.
  • Promoting, strengthening and expanding IU's role in the international arena.
  • Establishing the Office of International Programs at IU to provide for the needs of international students at IU and for IU students and faculty abroad.
  • With former dean of the School of Continuing Studies, Robert Richey, having the foresight to anticipate the needs of older and non-traditional students.


In addition to 16 honorary degrees, Ryan has received numerous awards and honors. Among them, he has received the Sagamore of the Wabash from Indiana Governors Bowen and Orr; the Horatio Alger Award; the Edmund F. Ball Award from the Indiana Public Broadcasting Society; Knight Commander (Second Class), Most Exalted Order of the White Elephant from the King of Thailand; Hungarian People's Republic Order of the Star; Knight Grand Cross, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem; Commander, Order of Merit, Polish People's Republic; and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

From IU, Ryan has received the Distinguished Alumni Service Award and the John W. Ryan Award for exceptional contributions to IU's international programs and students.