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Last modified: Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Celebration of the life of IU's 14th president John Ryan planned for Oct. 28

Oct. 19, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The many accomplishments of Indiana University's 14th president will be remembered at a Celebration of the Life of John W. Ryan on Friday, Oct. 28, at the Indiana Memorial Union on the IU Bloomington campus.

Ryan, who transformed IU into a multi-campus university that serves every region of the state, died on Aug 6 at the age of 81.

The celebration, which will provide a chance to remember John Ryan, the president, and John Ryan, the much loved family man and friend, will begin with a prelude concert, featuring music by his favorite Indiana songwriter Hoagy Carmichael, as performed by bass player Jeremy Allen and pianist Luke Gillespie, both members of the faculty of the IU Jacobs School of Music. The concert will begin at 4 p.m.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie will preside over the second portion of the ceremony, which will begin at 4:30 p.m. with an invocation by Msgr. William Stumpf of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Other speakers will include James Morris, president of Pacers Sports and Entertainment and a former IU trustee; Bob Hammel, retired Bloomington Herald-Times sports editor; J. Terry Clapacs, IU vice president emeritus; Charles F. Bonser, dean emeritus of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs; Peggy Gordon Elliott Miller, former chancellor of the IU Northwest campus; and Brian Bex, an IU graduate, political commentator and founder of the Remnant Trust.

Two-time Grammy Award-winner Sylvia McNair will perform with Charles Webb, dean emeritus of the Jacobs School of Music, during the celebration.

The Celebration of Life will be held in the Whittenberger Auditorium of the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St. A reception will follow in the University Club at 5:30 p.m.

Ryan was IU's president from 1971 to 1987. Under his stewardship, the university experienced academic success and major growth in enrollment and financial support. During that time, 37 faculty members were named Guggenheim Fellows and three were named MacArthur Fellows.

"Dr. Ryan had a remarkable vision for how the university should evolve, both across the state and around the world," McRobbie recalled. "He also was a strong leader who took the helm as president at a difficult time and earned the respect of the faculty, staff, state legislature and alumni. Dr. Ryan saw the possibilities for IU as a great state university operating on an international stage at a time when few others were thinking in such terms."

IU Southeast in New Albany and IU East in Richmond opened during his tenure. 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.

His 16 years as IU president exceeded the length of all but three of his predecessors, Herman B Wells, William Lowe Bryan and Andrew Wylie. Ryan held the titles of IU president emeritus and professor emeritus in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at the time of his death. He also was a member of the board of directors at the IU Foundation.

The public is invited. RSVP online at Those who are disabled and needing assistance should call 812-855-3762.