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Last modified: Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Scholarship for student leaders honors IU Foundation President Curt Simic

June 4, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A new $1.3 million scholarship endowment for student leaders at Indiana University Bloomington honors Curt Simic, president of the IU Foundation.

Simic will retire in June after 20 years as head of the foundation, which raises gift funds for IU and invests its endowment.

Curt Simic

Photo by: Tyagan Miller

Curt Simic

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Onward! The Curtis R. Simic Scholarship for Leaders will cover the cost of tuition for up to eight juniors and seniors at IU Bloomington who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and a commitment to enriching the student body through constructive engagement with the campus. The first scholarships will be awarded this fall.

"This endowment is a wonderful way to commemorate the enormous and positive impact on Indiana University that Curt's efforts have had over the years," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. "Thanks to this fund, his enthusiasm and love for IU will serve as inspiration for many future generations of student leaders."

The IU Foundation Board of Associates, the volunteer advisory board of the IU Student Foundation (IUSF), initiated the scholarship fund drive and partnered with the IU Foundation board of directors and other donors to surpass the $1 million mark.

The campaign was chaired by IUSF alumnus William A. Foley of Hudson, Ohio. Other IUSF alumni on the volunteer steering committee are James D. Babcock and John F. Kautzman of Indianapolis, Robert N. Hermes of Lake Forest, Ill., Thomas M. McGlasson of Bloomington, Sara (Sallie Jo) Mitzell of Westfield, Ind., Gregory L. Mikkelsen of Castle Rock, Colo., and Stephen R. Springer and Sara F. (Sally) Springer of Fort Myers Beach, Fla.

The Board of Directors committee includes W. Michael Wells of Indianapolis, Kathryn Ryan Booth of New York, Bill C. Brown of Bloomington, Donald C. "Danny" Danielson of Indianapolis and New Castle, Jean Ann Ford of San Francisco, Robert W. Lanum of Jeffersonville, John D. Peterson of Indianapolis and Richard E. Woosnam of Philadelphia.

"Without the important help of the George (Dixie) Heighway Scholarship, I could never have attended IU," said Simic, "even though I worked during the summers and the school year. I would never have had the life-changing experience of being at Indiana University, where I learned to love opera and found my life's work. Being involved in the student foundation, and being president my senior year, was a tremendous leadership experience that taught me the importance of philanthropy and enabled me to see the benefits of student engagement. This scholarship means more to me than I can say."

Foley said, "Nothing could be more fitting than a scholarship to honor Curt's lifelong commitment to enhancing access to an IU education and the quality of the IU experience. Generations of students will benefit from these scholarships, just as they have benefited from the work of the foundation over the two decades that he has led it."

"The IU Foundation board of directors has been privileged to work with Curt Simic over the past 20 years," said Mike Wells, a board member. "Under his leadership, the foundation has grown more professional, accountable and successful in serving IU. We wish him the best."

Simic -- one of nine children growing up in the small town of Kouts, Ind. -- earned his bachelor's degree at IU in 1964 and then pursued graduate coursework in the IU School of Education. He started his career at the IU Foundation, serving in various positions in fundraising and programming, including director of annual giving and director of the IU Student Foundation.

In 1971, he left IU to lead development, alumni and external relations programs in public and private institutions in all parts of the country -- Yale, the universities of Tennessee, Alabama and Oregon. At the University of California-Berkeley, he served as vice chancellor for development and president of the University of California-Berkeley Foundation. He returned to Indiana as president of the IU Foundation in 1988.

"My goal in leaving was to acquire the experience and credentials that would bring me back to IU someday," Simic said. "Being back home in Indiana was my dream."

Simic is now recognized as a national leader in fundraising for higher education. He has served on the national board of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), was a founding member of the National Committee for Institutionally Related Foundations, now a part of CASE, and a founding member of the Institutionally Related Foundations Planning Committee of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB).

He is the dean of faculty and a faculty member of the Big Ten Fund Raisers Institute. He is a presenter and author on development and on the administration of foundations, and has been an advisor and consultant to many colleges, universities and non-profit organizations.

Among other honors, Simic was an inaugural recipient of the CASE Commonfund Institutionally Related Foundation Award for Professional Leadership. He received the Frank L. Ashmore Award for Service to CASE and the Advancement Profession, and the Crystal Apple Teaching Award from CASE. He received the Distinguished Hoosier Award from Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon.

Under Simic's leadership, IU has been ranked among the Top 20 universities nationally in Total Voluntary Support -- gifts and research grants from the private sector -- for 16 of the past 18 years. Total voluntary support for IU in fiscal 2007 was $278.5 million. IU also consistently ranks in the Top 15 among public universities in the market value of its endowment, valued at $1.6 billion as of June 30, 2007.