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Chris Sheid
IU Northwest

Last modified: Tuesday, June 22, 2010

IU, Northwest campus honor retiring Chancellor Bruce Bergland

June 22, 2010

Chancellor receives Sagamore of the Wabash award, IU President's Medal of Excellence

GARY, Ind. -- A sense of gratitude and a spirit of celebration filled the main entrance of the Savannah Center at Indiana University Northwest on June 15, as more than 300 students, faculty, staff, and community and university leaders came together to honor and celebrate the many accomplishments of retiring Chancellor Bruce W. Bergland.


Bruce Bergland

Print-Quality Photo

Bergland has served at IU Northwest since 1999. He is the 11th chief administrator of the campus, and his 11 years in office mark the longest single tenure of any IU Northwest chancellor. He will retire on June 30, 2010.

After hearing a number of glowing tributes to his service and accomplishments, an emotional Bergland told his well-wishers that he is leaving the IU Northwest campus with the same mindset he brought to it: a thankful one. The Chancellor expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to improve the university, serve its students, and work to benefit the Northwest Indiana community and specifically the City of Gary.

"It's been an honor and privilege," Chancellor Bergland said. "I started at Northwestern as an assistant professor in 1969…and I worked at four other institutions, and I can say in all honesty, I never enjoyed a job as much as this one. While it sounds incongruous, this is also the job in which I've experienced the most significant challenges, the most frustration and, at times, the most disappointment. But with all of that, this has been an amazing, amazing experience, and it's because of all of the people at IU Northwest - students, faculty, and staff. It's been a fabulous experience."

At the reception, faculty, administrators and students alike had words of praise for Chancellor Bergland. Brandon Thomas-Pleasant, an IU Northwest sophomore business student, said he attended the retirement reception out of respect and honor for the Chancellor. He mentioned that his future aspirations closely parallel one of Bergland's key initiatives: community development.

"When I graduate, I'd like to work on the rebirth of Gary by investing in the development of low-income condos," Thomas-Pleasant said.

This same belief in the value of community, and his concern for the quality of life in Northwest Indiana, led Chancellor Bergland to embrace a significant leadership role in the seven-county region served by IU Northwest. Over the years, he has been an advocate for greater regional unity and has championed the cause of diversity through his involvement in local organizations like the Quality of Life Council, the Urban League of Northwest Indiana, the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Indiana, and the South Shore Arts Association, among others.

City of Gary Mayor Rudy Clay was one of many notable individuals who took the opportunity to remark on Chancellor Bergland's positive influence on the city and the region.

"Sometimes you have ordinary people, and then you have extraordinary people," Clay said. "Dr. Bergland falls in the category of extraordinary people because he has helped so many people, and he is a true community servant. He has such an excellent spirit, and he has taught a lot of people that you cannot have excellent work, or an excellent education, or an excellent mind, unless you have an excellent spirit. Dr. Bergland, you are a true champion."

During his Chancellorship, Dr. Bergland has dedicated much of his attention to strategic planning, continuous improvement, and academic excellence for the university. The results of these efforts, combined with the Chancellor's belief in a Shared Vision for IU Northwest, have brought a decade of excellence, innovation and engagement to the campus.

Indiana University President Michael McRobbie lauded Chancellor Bergland for his achievements and for his lifetime involvement in higher education. He noted that the search committee members who selected Dr. Bergland in 1999 described him as "an excellent choice."

"And, over the past 11 years, Bruce has definitely proven the truth of that description...(Chancellor Bergland) is a voice of honesty and integrity. He is truly a trusted advisor in my cabinet," the President said.

McRobbie also acknowledged Chancellor Bergland's tremendous impact on the university, the students and the community by recognizing some of the concepts Dr. Bergland brought to the campus that will serve as reminders of his legacy.

"Bruce's focus on the campus was to create opportunities for students," the President said. "This was demonstrated by the development of the Dunes Medical Professional building, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International accreditation of the IU Northwest's School of Business and Economics, and, most visibly, the magnificent Shadows and Echoes Sculpture Garden, which serves as a beautiful centerpiece to this campus and represents the contributions his wife, Cynthia Owen-Bergland, has also brought to IU Northwest."

The most heartfelt and personal testaments to Chancellor Bergland's success came from his son, Dr. Todd Bergland, and from IU Northwest's First Lady.

Todd shared with attendees a letter he received from his father 23 years ago, prior to attending boarding school in Connecticut. The letter outlined tenets to live by, and Todd said those are the same principles that his father brought to the IU Northwest campus.

"Do what's right, finish what you start and always do your best, treat other people with kindness, and set goals for yourself," Todd said.

In her remarks, Cynthia Owen-Bergland took the time not only to recognize her husband but also to acknowledge the people of Indiana.

"Indiana has its own special spirit, and Hoosiers are definitely the kindest, most generous, and most welcoming people I've had the privilege to know," she said. "To those of you who are our dearest friends and supporters, and you know who you are, thank you for the bottom of my heart…It has truly been a privilege to serve this campus and community."

Additional remarks came from Professor of Sociology and IU Northwest Faculty Organization President Charles Gallmeier, Ph.D. and from Mark Lopez, Chief of Staff representing U.S. Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (D-1st).

Also, IU Northwest women's basketball coach Ryan Shelton presented Chancellor Bergland with a signed team basketball from the 2009-10 Lady RedHakws, who made the university's first-ever appearance in the NAIA National Tournament in March. The ball's display case also contained a piece of the net from the team's home victory in the A.I.I. Championship Game, which earned the RedHawks their historic tourney berth.

The campus's celebration of Chancellor Bergland concluded with a literal bang, as fireworks sponsored in part by Dr. William A. Shields and the Gary Southshore RailCats illuminated the evening sky over the Savannah Center. Before this grand finale, however, President McRobbie presented the Chancellor with several honors and awards.

McRobbie announced that, by decree of the IU Board of Trustees, the Savannah Center Auditorium would be rechristened the "Bruce W. Bergland Auditorium." He also announced that Professor of Fine Arts Neil Goodman is creating a cast bronze sculpture to honor Chancellor Bergland, and that it would be placed in the Savannah Center later this year.

On behalf of Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, McRobbie presented Bergland with two prestigious state honors: the Distinguished Hoosier Award and the Sagamore of the Wabash, two of the highest designations that any Indiana resident may receive.

Finally, the President presented Chancellor Bergland and First Lady Cynthia Owen-Bergland with the President's Medal of Excellence. McRobbie said the criteria for receipt of this honor include "distinction in public service, service to Indiana University, achievement in a profession, and/or extraordinary merit and achievement in the arts, humanities, sciences, education, and industry."

"In recognition of all that both of you have done for Indiana University, for the IU Northwest campus, and for this community, it is my great pleasure to present you with the highest honor an Indiana University president can bestow," McRobbie said.

The Berglands plan to retire to Arizona this summer. Dr. William Lowe, who is currently provost and vice president for academic affairs at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minn., will succeed Chancellor Bergland on July 1.

For photos of the event, go to