Paying Tribute to an Indiana Treasure: Honoring the Lilly Endowment

Lilly House
Indianapolis, Indiana
July 11, 2011

It is a great pleasure to be here this evening for this gathering of Lilly Endowment staff, past and present.

Let me take a moment to introduce my wife, First Lady of Indiana University, Laurie Burns McRobbie.  

Both Laurie and I feel privileged to share this magnificent and historic home with you this evening. The Lilly House is just one example of the incomparable philanthropic efforts of the Lilly family over many, many years. You all know better than most the deep and lasting impact that the Lilly Endowment has had on the entire state of Indiana, literally transforming communities through careful and strategic allocation of resources designed to help Hoosiers lead rewarding and meaningful lives.  

All of you represent the strongest of Hoosier values rooted deeply in care, compassion, and community. On behalf of Indiana University, I would like to express our profound gratitude for all that you have done individually and collectively for the university and all that you have done to make Indiana the state that it is. It is accurate to say that the Lilly Endowment is an Indiana treasure. 

Of course, it would give me great pleasure to recite the many projects that the Lilly Endowment has supported at IU over the years, but that would take far longer than just one evening. 

Let me just mention a few from the past decade. The Endowment has supported the Pervasive Technology Laboratories, with grants totaling $45 million. It has also supported the IU School of Medicine’s Indiana Genomics Initiative with grants totaling $155 million. The Endowment also supported the Metabolomics and Cytomics Initiative or METACyt, with a $53 million gift in 2004. I have not yet mentioned the Endowment’s $26 million grant to expand intellectual capital at IU in 2004; their $40 million grant to support the Center on Philanthropy at IU in 2006; their extremely generous $44 million gift to the Jacobs School of Music and their $25 million gift to support faculty recruitment at the Maurer School of Law in 2007; or their generous grant for $60 million to support the Indiana Physician Scientist Initiative at the IU School of Medicine.

Just this past spring, we broke ground on the new Jacobs School of Music Studio Building, funded by the Endowment, and a month ago yesterday, I had the pleasure of participating in the dedication of the Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence in Columbus, funded by the Endowment and home to IU, Purdue, and Ivy Tech programs.   

All told, the Endowment has given over $500 million to Indiana University over recent decades.

The Lilly Endowment’s generosity is truly extraordinary in its scope, scale, and vision. It has transformed the face of this university and the face of this wonderful state we all share.

For all of these reasons, it gives me great pleasure to present the University Medal to the Lilly Endowment. I am particularly pleased about the timing of this award since it coincides with the IU Foundation’s seventy-fifth anniversary year.  At this time, I would like to invite Tom Lofton to join me at the podium for a brief presentation. 

The highest award the university has to give, the University Medal is awarded at the recommendation of the president and with the approval of the trustees.  It has been awarded only eleven times in the university’s history, most recently to Nobel Laureate, Distinguished Professor Elinor Ostrom, and her husband Professor Emeritus of Political Science Vincent Ostrom.  In each case, the recipient has transformed the face of the university through extraordinary and historic contributions. 

By virtue of the authority vested in me by the trustees of Indiana University—and in gratitude for the Lilly Endowment’s extraordinary contributions to the university and the entire state over many decades—I am privileged to name the Endowment the latest recipient of the University Medal.