In his influential book, Choosing a Vocation, published in 1909, Frank Parsons, a pioneer in the in the field of career guidance, wrote: "The building of a career is quite as difficult a problem as the building of a house, yet few ever sit down with pencil and paper, with expert information and counsel, to plan a working career and deal with the life problem scientifically, as they would deal with the problem of building a house, taking the advice of an architect to help them."1
Parsons’ work would help to change that in a major way. Widely regarded as the first modern theorist and practitioner in the field of career counseling, he advocated for matching careers with talents, skills, and personality, and for expert counseling and guidance along with excellent education and training as people embarked on or changed careers.
Today, as we dedicate the new Prebys Career Services Center, we celebrate a splendid new facility that provides a fitting new home for the outstanding career counseling, guidance, and placement services that IU’s Kelley School of Business has long provided to its students. We also celebrate the longstanding success of the school itself in ensuring that students graduate with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed and thrive in rewarding careers.
Career Services in the Kelley School of Business
The renowned and highly-ranked Kelley School of Business is, of course, one of Indiana University’s core professional schools. Its outstanding faculty members shape scholarship in every aspect of business today, and among its more than 100,000 living alumni are many successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, and distinguished local, state, national, and international business leaders.
And, of course, the Kelley School has excelled for many years in terms of the career services it provides.
The vast majority—94 percent—of Kelley students who worked with the school’s Undergraduate Career Services Office reported full-time job or graduate school acceptance within three months, and they earned a median starting salary well above the median for all business schools. The school was also recently ranked fifth in the country in terms of job placement success, and the school has been highly ranked for many years by corporate recruiters, recently ranking number one among all public universities and fourth overall.
But the school had an urgent need for new career services facilities. Over the last decade, the number of students served by Kelley’s Undergraduate Career Services Office has almost doubled. Thanks to the generosity of Jim Hodge, the Lilly Endowment, and many other alumni, friends, and corporate partners, the school now has this magnificent new undergraduate building. But the expansion of Hodge Hall also allowed the Kelley School to admit even greater numbers of students—and the career services facility could no longer keep up with demand.
The center we dedicate today nearly doubles the amount of space where recruiters will be able to meet privately with students. It includes more than 70 interview rooms as well as nearly 30 staff offices. The design for the first floor allows for flexible use, and it includes a multipurpose area where visiting companies can set up displays and make presentations.
In short, the Prebys Career Services Center will help to ensure that the Kelley School’s career services remain among the very best in the country.
There are many people to whom we owe our thanks for helping us reach this moment. First among them, of course, is the man for whom this center is named: the late businessman, philanthropist, and IU alumnus, Conrad T. Prebys.
In 2015, I had the great pleasure of announcing that Mr. Prebys had generously donated $20 million to Indiana University and the Kelley School of Business. In addition to supporting the career services center we dedicate today, his extremely generous gift also supports student scholarships and faculty chair endowment programs in the Kelley School. And the whole IU Bloomington campus has also enormously benefitted from his generosity through the magnificent new Conrad Prebys Amphitheater, which we dedicated last year. The amphitheater has hosted musical and theatrical performances and was home to last year’s highly successful CelestFest, a campus-wide solar eclipse viewing party.
Mr. Prebys was raised in South Bend and was the first in his family to attend college. While at IU, he was active in the Delta Upsilon fraternity, the Playbill theater group, and the ROTC Program. After graduating with distinction from the Kelley School of Business in 1955 with a bachelor's degree in business, he returned to South Bend and worked there for a number of years. In the mid-1960s, he moved to San Diego, where he eventually co-founded Progress Construction and Management, which became a very successful developer of affordable, middle-class homes in Southern California. He later shifted his focus from construction to property ownership and owned more than 80 properties in the greater San Diego area.
On behalf of Indiana University, I would like to again extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Prebys’s partner, Debra Turner, to his daughter Kathleen and her husband, Matthew, who are with us today. We also extend our most sincere gratitude for Mr. Prebys’s enormous generosity.
I also want to commend and congratulate Dean Idie Kesner and her predecessor, Dan Smith, the faculty and staff of the Kelley School and the staff of the Prebys Career Services Center for their dedicated efforts that have helped make the new center a reality.
And I want to commend Vice President for Capital Planning and Facilities Tom Morrison, as well as the many design and construction professionals, both internal and external, who contributed to this project. Kalevi Huotilainen of B-S-A LifeStructures is with us today. We extend our thanks to him and his colleagues, as well as to the many people from Weddle Brothers Construction and Skillman Construction whose work was also vital to the center’s construction.
In the same book I quoted earlier, Frank Parsons, the father of career counseling, also wrote: "There is no part of life where the need for guidance is more emphatic than in the transition from school to work—the choice of a vocation, adequate preparation for it, and the attainment of efficiency and success."2
Today, as we dedicate the Prebys Career Services Center, we celebrate a facility that will help to ensure that students in IU’s Kelley School of Business continue to receive the expert guidance they need to make successful transitions from school to work, and to go on to rewarding careers.
The Kelley School has become synonymous with excellence at Indiana University and throughout the world because of the work of the school’s outstanding faculty, because of the tradition of exceptional leadership, and because of the generosity of alumni like Conrad Prebys.
The Prebys Career Services Center is now part of his enduring legacy—one that will help prepare countless students for success in the workplace of today and the workforce of the future.
1. Frank Parsons, Choosing A Vocation, (Meyer Bloomfield, 1909), 4.