Post courtesy of IU newsroom intern Sheila Raghavendran:
Jacobs School of Music graduate student Synthia Steiman and second-year master’s student Chris Seefeldt organized Sing With Pride, a recital of graduate voice students celebrating the experiences of LGBTQ people and honoring the victims of the June 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Steiman, Seefeldt and Lauren McQuistin, one of the recital’s performers, talk about the inspiration and importance of the event.
Post courtesy of Karen Land, IU Communications arts specialist:
Even if you didn’t know Grafton Trout, you might know his face.
He was one of Indiana University’s greatest fans.
Instead of Assembly Hall or Memorial Stadium, you might have found him at a lecture hall, the Lilly Library, IU Cinema or what is now the Eskenazi Museum of Art. He was everywhere.
Grafton kept a particularly vigorous schedule attending arts and cultural events on the IU campus, together with his wife, Laura, and often alone.
IU Cinema director Jon Vickers described him as “the most intellectually curious man that I have ever met.”
Grafton Trout passed away July 30, 2016, at the age of 87.
A former sociology professor and later director of the IU Bloomington honors program in foreign languages, he earned master’s degrees in sociology then economics at IU in the 1960s before earning his sociology Ph.D. in 1971.
In recent years, Grafton was an art museum docent (“He was our patriarch”) and a staunch supporter of fine film. He had been scheduled to speak at the Eskenazi Museum earlier this month. Instead, Tom Rhea led his “Must Art Be Beautiful?” tour, dedicating it to his good friend.
At many cultural events this fall, one seat looks particularly empty. When I glance around IU Cinema, I still expect to see Grafton there, taking it all in.
* * *
Grafton was, without a doubt, IU Cinema’s most dedicated patron and the most intellectually curious man that I have ever met. He was a model for anyone who has an appetite for culture. He will be greatly missed by everyone at the cinema — staff, students, other guests and visiting filmmakers.
There are few people in Bloomington, if any, who have seen as many international films as Grafton. As a programmer, he kept you on your toes.
We were able to bring some of his cinematic idols to him, which he loved, and he almost always asked our guest filmmakers questions during the audience Q&As.
— Jon Vickers, Indiana University Cinema director
* * *
I spent more time talking to Grafton before and after the films, than I did my girlfriend. He was (IU Cinema’s) fifth Beatle.
— Matt Starr, IU Bloomington graduate, class of 2013
* * *
Grafton was such a loyal and committed museum and arts supporter. It was very rare indeed if he missed an event and he always asked such engaging questions. Over the years my admiration for his continual quest to learn just grew. He will be greatly missed.
— Heidi Gealt, Eskenazi Museum of Art director emerita
* * *
While I was the executive director of the Friends of Art, an organization that supports IU fine arts students, Grafton Trout was in my office every week, sometimes every day.
He loved to haunt the bookstore across the hall from my office. He knew my name from my years of writing art reviews for the Bloomington Independent. He was supportive of all our initiatives, with a near-perfect attendance record for lectures, auctions, openings, studio visits and trips.
Nearly every trip I organized had some counsel and input from Grafton. In addition, we roomed together on every trip he took since we were often the only men traveling alone. He “packed” light for these trips, (with) everything in one narrow briefcase. On the train from the airport to the hotel in Washington D. C., he pushed the case into my arms as we came to the stop for the (National) Mall and told me to stow it in our room. He jumped out at an earlier stop because he couldn’t bear to waste time on checking in that could be spent at the museum! On the return, his limited luggage required him to parcel out to other travelers the dozen or so art books he had purchased.
Even after he slowed down with the years, and gave the impression of being more frail, he could amaze you with his acuity. He lectured without notes in the gallery that featured some of the marvelous Japanese woodblock prints from his collection, with a precision for places, names and 50-year-old publications that was astonishing.
Grafton’s widow Laura told me that when he retired from teaching, he regarded his pursuit of art to be his new profession.
He was a great mind, a great man, and a great friend.
— Tom Rhea, artist, illustrator and Eskenazi Museum docent
* * *
Grafton impressed me as being such a knowledgeable person and graciously shared his expertise with all of us.
— Linda Heath, Eskenazi Museum of Art docent
* * *
Grafton Trout was a loyal supporter and an enthusiastic cheerleader for The Ryder Film Series from day one. In the early ’80s, he helped pave the way for us to host screenings on campus. I can say unequivocally that Grafton holds the record for “Most Ryder Films Attended.” And it’s a record, I’m certain, that will never be broken. Grafton was the Cal Ripken of moviegoers. I’m sure that other arts and campus organizations would say something similar, although they might avoid the baseball analogy.
He always had something of interest to say — a quip or an observation or a story to tell — not only to me but to our ticket takers and projectionists, some of whom were aspiring filmmakers. Grafton always took a sincere interest in their film projects and, more significantly, in their lives, and offered words of encouragement about the work they were doing.
Grafton usually attended Ryder films on campus but occasionally he came to Bear’s Place. I recall one such visit in the 1990s. At that time, we screened our movies on 16mm film, with two projectors side by side, each loaded with a film reel. Our projectionist that night had failed to lock the second reel into place, and so when we made the switch from Reel 1 to 2, it soon slipped off of the projector and landed on the head of one of our patrons — Grafton.
Those reels were heavy, and I was concerned that Grafton might be seriously hurt. Someone went to get a glass of water. Meanwhile, I could see a prominent bright red welt emerging through his scalp – his hair was thin, even then. I asked if he was OK and he didn’t answer – he just stared straight ahead and downward with a look of distress in his eyes. I followed his gaze and there, several feet away, on the floor, under a table, was the reel of film. After landing on Grafton’s head it had rolled between several chairs, under a table, and was now beginning to unravel at an alarming rate. We both just stared for several seconds as foot upon foot of film spun away the reel and formed a spaghetti-like pile on the floor. Suddenly Grafton leaped from his seat and was on his hands and knees, reaching under the table to rescue the reel of film – I hadn’t realized he could move that fast. And rescue it he did. We reassembled the reel and resumed the screening; one of the servers bought Grafton a drink on the house. (This was probably not proper concussion protocol.)
This is what made Grafton special: He had little concern for his own well-being that night; his only concern was in the value and integrity of the performance. The show must go on. He was much more than someone who bought a ticket and attended an event – he was an active participant, he was invested, emotionally and intellectually…. Grafton had all of the wit and enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity and optimism of a much younger man. He had a kind word for everyone. He will be missed.
— Peter LoPilato, The Ryder magazine and film series founder, publisher and curator
IU Communications has collected these remembrances and personal stories about Grafton Trout — and many others — in an unabridged tribute PDF.
The words written on “The Wall of Prejudice” — a portable wall where Indiana University students can write words or phrases that are offensive to them — are harsh and sometimes shocking.
“Bossy.” “Fat.” “Retarded.” “Slut.” “Stupid.”
While seeing such words can be uncomfortable for some, the point of it is necessary, said Pi Lambda Phi member Thomas Mandel. The fraternity is hosting the wall as part of this week’s Elimination of Prejudice Week.
“The purpose of the wall is really to raise awareness to the injustice in our current society and to the sometimes off-handed things people can say that can be hurtful,” said Mandel, a senior at the Kelley School of Business. “Students can write something on the wall they want to see eliminated and can take a moment to reflect on some of their behavior they might not be aware of.”
Throughout Elimination of Prejudice Week, Pi Lambda Phi, in collaboration with on-campus organizations and departments, is hosting a number of panel discussions that will address issues such as mental health, gender identity, Islamophobia and environmental racism.
Post courtesy of Janae Cummings, strategic communications specialist with the IU Office of the Provost:
Think back to the moment you found your tribe. Your people. The ones who supported you, pushed you, laughed and cried with you, and made you feel like you belonged. We find our tribes in different places and different ways. But none are so important as the ones we find during periods of transition and change.
These experiences define life at Indiana University. They’re how we grow, evolve and become who we’re meant to be. But when you can’t find your footing — when you can’t find your tribe — the questions flood in. Am I on the right path? Are there really people out there I can relate to? Is this the place for me?
In those times, when the outlook seems dark and self-doubt creeps in, #IUisHome shines through with the answer: Yes. Keep going. You belong here.
#IUisHome launched in mid-August with profiles of Hoosiers from diverse backgrounds, cultures and experiences. From undergraduates to alumni, the tie that binds these individuals isn’t courage in the face of adversity or perseverance when the going gets rough; it’s the thoughtful words and actions that guide their peers in the right direction. For the unmoored, these acts often serve as a lighthouse in a sea of uncertainty, spelling the difference between merely surviving and succeeding.
Story after story, helping others find their place comes down to the little things: the simple words of encouragement or reassurance, the invitation to Starbucks for coffee, the proactive step to act as a mentor. They’re simple and small, but they’re the things we need to find our tribes — our community — and our sense of belonging. Isn’t that what home is all about?
For the following Hoosiers, #IUisHome:
- Rohit Chandran, staff member, IU Communications
- Miryea Cisneros, undergraduate student – College of Arts & Sciences, neuroscience with a minor in anthropology
- Yassmin Fashir, undergraduate student – School of Global and International Studies
- Fred Glass, director, IU Athletics
- Marsha McGriff, director, Hudson and Holland Scholars Program
- Lauren Robel, provost, IU Bloomington
- Jamal Sowell, student, Maurer School of Law
- Amanda Russo Stante, alum, Jacobs School of Music
- Yoshi Tsuji, alum, Kelley School of Business
And as the new academic year kicks off at IU Bloomington, we welcome home the new Class of 2020 to campus where #IUisHome.
Guest post by Steve Hinnefeld, who regularly blogs at Policy Briefings.
Bishop shared his love for and encyclopedic knowledge of jazz and American popular song with WFIU listening audiences for over 50 years. He was also a valued employee and great friend of IU; he was a key member of the IU Foundation leadership team from 1988 to 2005.
He was many things: A lover of music, a baseball fan, a devoted husband, a regular at Nick’s English Hut. Most of all, friends and co-workers knew him as a thoughtful, dependable and gracious person who would see the people at the heart of every campaign, performance and event.
“There was not a single program developed for which he did not remind all of us that we were dealing with individual people, not statistics,” said Curt Simic, IU Foundation president emeritus and Bishop’s close friend. “The university and foundation could not have been served better and with more loyalty than they were served by Dick.”
Bishop presented jazz as a volunteer host at WFIU, the Bloomington public radio station, starting in the 1950s; he started as a student announcer and moved on to create and host “The Big Bands,” “Afterglow” and “Standards by Starlight,” the latter a celebration of American popular song.
When he returned to WFIU in 2012 after a seven-year absence, an article in the station’s newsletter said, regarding “Afterglow,” that he took the title from a composition by pianist Marian McPartland but “all of the rest — the elegance, the passion, the laid-back expertise, the congenial charm and the delivery with a ‘martini moon’ quality to it — came from Dick himself.”
“Dick set the tone for WFIU for over 50 years,” said Perry Metz, executive director of IU Radio and Television Services. “From his first 15-minute jazz program, Dick demonstrated that there would be strong audiences for high-quality local programming. His urbane and knowledgeable style drew people of all ages to big band and jazz standards. We were lucky to have his leadership and example.”
WFIU is planning programming in tribute to Bishop on Thursday afternoon during “Just You and Me” and Friday evening during its regular block of jazz shows.
An only child, Bishop spent his early years in Grosse Point, Mich., and later moved with his family to Fort Wayne, Ind., where he graduated from Concordia High School. He was an avid Detroit Tigers fan, served as senior student manager for the IU baseball team and made lifelong friends at IU as a member of Kappa Delta Rho fraternity. On his initial 15-minute program on newly established station WFIU, he played recordings by his favorite artists including Frank Sinatra, Hoagy Carmichael and the Four Freshmen.
He was also a jazz drummer who became friends with renowned faculty at the IU Jacobs School of Music and often interviewed famous musicians and band leaders for his radio programs.
At IU, he earned a B.S. degree in education in 1961, an M.S. in 1971 and an Ed.D. in 1977. His varied career included stints as the first university relations director at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and positions in the IU Bloomington alumni office, the dean’s office of the School of Education, Radio and Television Services, and the IU president’s office under Joseph Sutton and John Ryan.
For 29 years, he was a devoted and loving husband to Nancy Harvey Bishop, who died in March 2007. In her memory, he established the Nancy Harvey Bishop Student Support Fund at IU.
At the IU Foundation, he was liaison to the IU Student Foundation, serving as mentor to generations of students and providing invaluable support for the Little 500 bicycle races. He received the School of Education Distinguished Alumni Award, the Jazz from Bloomington Al Cobine Award, the State of Indiana Distinguished Hoosier Award and the IU Foundation Herman B Wells Legacy Award.
It’s become an annual tradition: trying to somehow summarize the drive, dedication, drama, pride, pageantry, guts, glory and more that make Indiana University Bloomington’s Little 500 race so special. Thankfully, the video above, shot and produced by our talented videographers in IU Communications, allows viewers to experience the men’s and women’s races in beautiful, breathtaking fashion.
Not surprisingly, Little 500 leads the list of recent activities and events that have fueled the campus’ sprint through the last leg of spring semester. And what a sprint it’s been. So without further ado, here’s a chance to catch up on a number of other notable happenings that have had Btown buzzing these past few weeks.
Call it breaking away to breaking bad. In the days preceding Little 500, IU alumnus and actor extraordinaire Jonathan Banks graced the IU Bloomington campus once again. He met with students, including those in the Media School and Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance; spoke before a packed house at the IU Cinema; and delivered a moving and inspiring speech upon receiving an honorary doctorate at IU Bloomington’s annual Honors Convocation. Banks, best known for his portrayal of Mike Ehrmantraut on the award-winning drama “Breaking Bad,” also took time out of his busy schedule to sit down with Media School Dean Jim Shanahan for an illuminating conversation about his ties to IU and his illustrious acting career. Their discussion was featured on the campus’s new weekly podcast, Through the Gates: IU This Week.
Everywhere he visited last week, Banks talked about the road he took to get to IU and the transformative impact the university had on his personal and professional growth. Despite vast changes in the composition of IU Bloomington’s student body over nearly 200 years of the campus’s existence, the IU impact — showcased in the IU Newsroom’s latest long-form story, “Tried and True” — continues to resonate in our students, no matter where they come from, be it Indiana or halfway across the world.
IU Bloomington is, indeed, enriching the lives of our students in many ways, providing them — from the time they set foot on campus — with valuable opportunities to work with first-rate faculty and to find, develop and refine their scholarly and research interests. The campus’ 2020 Sustainability Scholars program offers evidence of just how much IU is helping students get ahead of the curve, give back to their communities and reach their fullest potential.
The campus also continues to find creative ways to support our students’ growth potential, doing so through such initiatives as the annual BEST Competition for young entrepreneurs hosted by the School of Informatics and Computing and the Kelley School of Business. The BEST Competition recently marked a milestone with $1 million invested in student-led projects over the past five years, including $200,000 to two student teams this year. Among the winners was Ellie Symes, a student in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and one of the founders of the Bee Corp., which monitors the health of bees in the hive and grew out of the Beekeeping Club that Symes and several of her peers started on campus. Sykes and the Beekeeping Club were featured in the IU Newsroom’s long-form story Keeper of the Bees, published last year, on the growing network of IU students, faculty and Bloomington residents who have taken up the plight of the honey bee.
Sticking with the bee theme for just a bit longer, students from the School of Education have been working alongside faculty members from the school and Department of Biology on efforts that help young children learn about complex science topics. Through their BioSim project, they recently employed an activity where local school children used electronic honey bee puppets to highlight the many moving parts of how humans work together toward a common goal. The activity represents one of the many ways IU students are translating the campus’s growing “maker movement” — which promotes the use of new technologies to enable more people to design and build their own inventions and products — into opportunities for young people to engage in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Early in May, a talented group of undergraduate and graduate students at IU Bloomington will be given a possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to brush up their Shakespeare — as the Bard would’ve heard his words spoken back to him when he was writing and directing. Murray McGibbon, an associate professor in the Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance, will present the first original pronunciation performance of William Shakespeare’s “King Lear” since the 17th century. The groundbreaking “OP” performance, which McGibbon promises will deliver far more “punch” than “posh,” will feature a cast of 14 students and be staged May 5 to 8 at the Wells-Metz Theatre.
Finally, no summary of the past several days at IU Bloomington would be complete without a nod to the many members of the IU community here in Btown and all around the world who made the first-ever IU Day celebration on April 12 a smashing success. The all-day event promoting participation, university pride and giving reached a whopping 9.4 million people on social media with the hashtag #IUday and attracted nearly 17,000 unique visitors to the IU Day website in 24 hours. For a solid part of the day, the hashtag trended nationally on Twitter and was used more than 10,000 times, reflecting a massive sharing of what we all have come to love about IU, such as IU basketball and Assembly Hall, both proudly showcased in the No. 1 most popular video on IU Day.
Post by IU Newsroom intern Amanda N. Marino.
In the Krahulik household, Little 500 is a family affair. Andy and Joe Krahulik are the second generation of Little 500 riders in their home, racing for Sigma Alpha Epsilon this year. In the 1980s, their father Dave raced for Sigma Nu.
To many of the riders, Little 500 is more than just an intramural race requiring an amazing amount of preparation. It is an event that helps to shape their college careers, and in some ways, who they become.
Dave, an attorney from Indianapolis, raced from 1986 to 1989 and will tell you that his team didn’t win until the year he graduated. He said it doesn’t bother him, though. Little 500 was much more than winning and losing.
“The race is so mixed in with spring,” he said. “We had beautiful weather every time.”
Despite being associated with spring, Dave said the event was a year-long endeavor.
“When it’s over, no matter how you did, there’s relief and already a little bit of regret, already a little bit of planning for next year,” Dave said.
Dave still has a bright yellow racing jacket and a blue uniform shirt from two of his four years of cycling, and he said he thinks things like these are what inspired his sons to race.
Sophomore Joe Krahulik said he knew he wanted to be a part of Little 500 when he was junior in high school after seeing his brother race.
“I just remember it was a beautiful day,” said Joe, a physics major. “Spring time on the Bloomington campus, it just looked gorgeous.”
Joe said seeing his brother perform so well his first time at the race was incredible, but it was not the first time either of the brothers had raced.
Senior Andy Krahulik said he remembers having racing posters up in his bedroom when he was a child. By fourth grade, Little 500 was already so ingrained in his mind that he and his brother decided to find their own way to participate.
“My brother and a few kids on the street actually kind of copied the idea and tried to host a ‘Junior 500’ which was 50 laps around the neighborhood cul-de-sac,” said Andy, a biology major.
Despite copious amounts of advertisements, Andy said only three people showed up. Since then, he said, people have been much more supportive of his riding endeavors.
“I do love Little 500,” he said, “It’s been probably the defining choice in my undergraduate career.”
After briefly being part of the Cutters, Andy rushed Sigma Alpha Epsilon and became one of the founding members of a new, improved cycling team. Through a restructured, more personalized approach to training, he said the team was able to move from placing in the high 20s to finishing on the leader’s lap.
“It’s kind of sad that it has to come to an end, but I’ve really enjoyed my four years doing it, and I hope to still stay connected in one way or another,” he said.
For more of the Krahuliks’ story, see the video in the player above.
Starting tomorrow, traditions will be on the line, madness and hysteria will ensue, and campus “Cinderellas” will be gearing up for the chance to dance.
It’s NCAA tournament time, of course, but we’re talking instead about what’s being dubbed the “ultimate IU bracket.”
Herman B Wells, Hoagy and Homecoming. Mark Cuban, Kinsey and candy-striped pants. They represent just a few of the Btown legends and traditions vying to win the inaugural “Hoosier Hysteria: The Bloomington Bracket” competition.
The field of 32 has been set and broken down into four regions — Landmarks, Traditions, Legends and Events — and beginning tomorrow morning, March 17, through April 6, Hoosier fanatics will be able to determine the person, place or thing they think most reflects our storied IU Bloomington campus.
Starting at 8 a.m. Thursday, Bloomington’s best bracketologists will be able to make their first-round selections. (The opening round will end at 2 p.m. on March 24, when second-round voting will commence.) Participants can vote once per day on each of their online or mobile devices, and as each round of the competition is completed they can view the results online, through IU’s main social media accounts or on a banner located at Starbucks in the Indiana Memorial Union. Ultimately, they’ll determine the last legend or tradition standing and the winner of a championship trophy created by the handy folks at the UITS 3-D Printing Lab at Wells Library.
Personally speaking, I’m ready to bust out my bracket. My final four: Assembly Hall, Little 500, Herman B Wells and my Cinderella pick, Squirrel watching. Regarding the choice of our ever-popular campus critters, my hope is that history will be on my side. (Though it’s often been disputed, some have suggested that in the original version of the fairy tale, Cinderella did not wear glass slippers, but instead wore slippers made out of fur. Squirrel fur.)
Not surprisingly, I’ve already started second guessing my planned selections. I had Little 500 as a lock to advance out of the Events region of the bracket, but can it really dance past IU Dance Marathon? And while it’s hard to deny Herman B a place in the final four, how many will have Hoagy Carmichael on their minds when tomorrow morning rolls around?
The clock is about to strike. (Come to think of it, maybe the Student Building Clock Tower is this year’s Cinderella?) Bring on the hysteria, and go Hoosiers!
On Sunday, March 6, around 17,000 IU basketball fans will enter Bloomington’s hallowed Assembly Hall for the final regular season game against Maryland. They will celebrate Senior Day and also the Hoosiers capturing, earlier this week, their 22nd Big Ten championship and their second outright title under head coach Tom Crean. In doing so, they’ll automatically become part of Assembly Hall history, joining the legions of IU fans over many decades who have been treated to championship performances.
As it’s been widely reported, those who want a more tangible piece of the tradition of Hoosier hoops can purchase one of the old turnstiles used in the arena, which are currently being auctioned off by IU’s Surplus Store. Bidding on 24 turnstiles that were used at Assembly Hall from 1971-2014 — during which time the Hoosiers won three NCAA championships — began in mid-February, and the final turnstile (turnstile No. 1) is set to be auctioned Monday, April 4, in time for the tipoff of this year’s NCAA Championship game.
Turns out there’s more, though, to what’s turned out to be a slam-dunk story for diehard Hoosier fans.
In the true cream and crimson spirit, the IU Surplus Store, with a timely assist from IU Athletics, recently offered up one of the turnstiles from the auction (No. 16) to the IU Archives, steward of the largest and most comprehensive gathering of information on the history and culture of IU.
The turnstile has been delivered, and fans and other interested parties can find it in the Archives’ reading room, located on the fourth floor of the East Tower of the Herman B Wells Library. The space is open to any visitor who wants to see the turnstile and, yes, even take a selfie with it from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Of course, members of the Archives wouldn’t be the great caretakers of IU tradition and history as they are if they didn’t delve into a little history behind the turnstiles that have Hoosier Nation happily spinning through years of proud basketball memories. Their search revealed a number of interesting tidbits about the turnstiles, designed and manufactured by Perey New York (est. 1913), which, remarkably, is still in business. The company’s various styles of turnstiles have taken their place through the years in some of the most historic venues spanning the areas of sports and entertainment, government and public service, and business, including Ebbets Field, the Federal Reserve Banks, Disneyland, Lockheed Missiles and Space, Churchill Downs and the transit authorities of both Chicago and New York City.
Indeed, from the first moment the turnstiles were installed at Assembly Hall, in 1971, they served as the front gate to number of momentous occasions that what would quickly become par for an arena that sportscaster Gus Johnson once famously called “the Carnegie Hall of basketball.” Among the events that took place during that first year were:
- The Homecoming Variety Show, featuring celebrity entertainers Bob Hope and Petula Clark, on Oct. 23, 1971.
- The first men’s basketball game ever played at Assembly Hall on Dec. 1, 1971, an 84-77 win over Ball State and the first of coach Bobby Knight’s 659 victories at the helm of the Hoosiers.
- The dedication of Branch McCracken Memorial Basketball Floor on Dec. 18, 1971, coinciding with a 94-29 win over Notre Dame.
Of course, many more Hoosier hoops victories would follow in the four-plus decades to follow, along with national championships, Big Ten championships, an undefeated season, concerts by Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones and other major headliners, visits from presidential candidates, graduation ceremonies and much more. These turnstiles have truly seen it all, and Hoosier fans can now take great pleasure and pride in knowing that it will only take a quick trip to the Archives to take a whirl through IU’s time-tested tradition and spirit.
IU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, which are coming off impressive weekend wins, may be the toast of Btown right now. But another team at IU Bloomington has been garnering major acclaim here and nationwide.
Since 2012, IU’s MoneySmarts team has been carrying the banner on campus for educating students in their money matters and helping them reduce their debt. And while no one would declare victory on overall student debt just yet, the MoneySmarts team can take considerable credit for helping dramatically reduce undergraduate student borrowing across the university. Over the past three years, the university has seen a remarkable 16 percent decrease in student loans — equaling nearly $83 million.
Central to the MoneySmarts team’s playbook has been a student debt letter — which IU began sending to student borrowers in 2013 — that details a student’s level of college-related borrowing and provides an estimated payout upon graduation. This seemingly simple but highly effective tactic has been nothing but a slam dunk — so much so that starting July 1, 2015, all public universities in Indiana have been required to provide similar letters to their students under a new state law.
In May, Yahoo Finance called the student debt letter a “genius” idea for tackling the student debt crisis. That plaudit came just weeks after University Business magazine recognized the MoneySmarts initiative as a Model of Excellence, an honor reserved for just 1o other colleges and universities. More recently, USA Today featured the IU debt letter in a larger feature story on tips for how students can better handle borrowing, including several from IU Director of Financial Literacy Phil Schuman.
Never a group to rest on its laurels, the MoneySmarts team, along with the Office of First Year Experience Programs, is hosting a WinterFest event from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight, Jan. 25, for students, student organizations and others on campus. Complete with free food, prizes and entertainment, the event in Alumni Hall at the Indiana Memorial Union promises to help students “freeze debt in its tracks” and give all of us who want to see our students graduate with as little debt as possible one more activity to cheer about.
For a student perspective on MoneySmarts, check out this Student Experience blog post, written by IU senior and MoneySmarts team member Dottie Vollmer.