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Barbara Coffman
IU Foundation

Adriene Davis
Center on Philanthropy

Glennda McGann
Herron School of Art and Design

Last modified: Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ruth Lilly bequest to expand opportunities for students and research in philanthropy and art

Esteemed philanthropist's legacy of generosity includes more than $10 million for Center on Philanthropy and Herron School of Art and Design

April 6, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University is receiving two generous gifts from the estate of philanthropist Ruth Lilly -- an estimated $10.7 million -- including approximately $8 million for the Center on Philanthropy and approximately $2.7 million for the Herron School of Art and Design.

Ruth Lilly

Ruth Lilly

"Ruth Lilly's long-standing generosity to Indiana University has left an indelible mark," said Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie. "She quietly and effectively, over many years, played an important role in helping to make the university the world-class institution that it has become."

A woman of wide-ranging interests, with a deeply felt commitment to philanthropy, Lilly was honored by the university in many ways, including a Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 2004, McRobbie said. Her cumulative giving to Indiana University during her lifetime totaled more than $30 million.

A statement released by family said, "The family of Ruth Lilly is very pleased with these gifts. Ruth attended the Herron School of Art and Design, and strongly supported its rise to national pre-eminence. The gift to the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy will greatly promote charitable giving, to which Ruth devoted her life."

"The magnitude of her giving and the thoughtful way Ruth Lilly went about her decision-making are two of her most remarkable characteristics," said Gene Tempel, president of the Indiana University Foundation. The IU Foundation will administer and invest the gifts.

Charles Bantz, chancellor of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, said, "Ruth Lilly's legacy to IUPUI includes numerous gifts -- these two are transformational. Support for graduate students and Eskenazi Hall will enhance the Herron School of Art and Design for decades. Support for the Center on Philanthropy will attract and retain the finest faculty minds to improve the theory and practice of philanthropy."

The Center on Philanthropy

Lilly's gift is the largest the Center on Philanthropy has ever received from an individual, said Patrick M. Rooney, executive director of the center.

"Ruth Lilly was a role model who inspired others with her generosity," he said. "The heart of the center's mission is helping nonprofits and philanthropy change communities and people's lives for the better, a desire that epitomized Ruth Lilly's remarkable life. Her gift will allow us to make tremendous strides in increasing philanthropy's impact."

The gift comes at a critical time for the nonprofit sector, according to Rooney.

"Philanthropy's power to create advances in health, social services, education and other aspects of our human condition is increasingly important in the U.S. and globally," said Rooney. "Yet the issues philanthropy grapples with are more complex than ever. Nonprofits and people who lead them need education, the latest research and best practices to fulfill their missions."

An outstanding faculty is essential to the center's ability to provide those resources, Rooney said.

With Lilly's gift, the center will establish the Ruth Lilly Professorship Program, named in her honor, which will provide matching funds to inspire and encourage other donors to create seven to 10 endowed faculty chairs. Endowments help the center recruit and retain leading national experts in philanthropy and build valuable programs that serve the nonprofit sector, said Rooney.

Endowed faculty chairs focus the center's strengths in education and research on specific aspects of philanthropy, such as philanthropy and the arts or international philanthropy. Faculty holding the new chairs will conduct research to improve the practice of philanthropy and nonprofit organizations. They will teach students in the new bachelor's degree program and graduate programs in Philanthropic Studies, attracting and preparing the brightest students to be innovative nonprofit leaders. The center has set an overall goal of establishing 20 endowed chairs.

"We are honored that Ruth Lilly chose the Center on Philanthropy to help continue her philanthropic legacy," said Rooney. "Her gift will have an enduring impact on philanthropy in Indiana -- and globally -- by substantially expanding the center's capacity to help donors, volunteers and nonprofits change the world."

Herron School of Art and Design

"Herron's goal is to be the best art school at any university in the country, public or private," said Herron Dean Valerie Eickmeier. "Ruth Lilly's gift is a transformational one for us. Just as Herron was ready to take the leap to the next level of excellence, Mrs. Lilly's gift made it possible."

Eickmeier said that Herron will use a portion of the Lilly gift to expand its graduate degree programs to include art therapy, ceramics, painting and photography and to undertake other programs and initiatives as part of Herron's long-term plan. The gift will also enable Herron to complete the funding for Herron's spectacular main facility, Eskenazi Hall.

"These are the initiatives that Herron believes will best honor Ruth Lilly's legacy by enabling the school to accelerate its emergence as one of the nation's best art schools," said Eickmeier.

"Ruth Lilly attended Saturday School at Herron as a child," said Eickmeier. "Later in life, she served as a board member and docent for Herron." Ruth Lilly's family members were instrumental in making a place for the arts in Indianapolis. When the family donated its estate at West 38th Street and Michigan Road in 1966 for the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Herron's collection was transferred to the new museum and Herron became a part of Indiana University.

"Herron has great respect and affection for Ruth Lilly and the Lilly family as benefactors and patrons of the arts," said Eickmeier.

Herron will honor Lilly by naming its administrative offices the Ruth Lilly Dean's Suite.

About the Center on Philanthropy

The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University is a leading academic center dedicated to increasing the understanding of philanthropy and improving its practice worldwide through research, teaching, training and public affairs programs in philanthropy, fundraising, and management of nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit

About the Herron School of Art and Design

Herron School of Art and Design provides quality education for students committed to careers in the visual arts including ceramics, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, visual communication design, furniture design, art education, and art history. Herron's commitment to civic engagement is twofold: It prepares students for a lifetime of using art and design to improve lives and communities, and it connects Herron to greater Indianapolis and around the nation and world through an array of exciting community programs. For more information, visit