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Remember When

A separate state university

Chairing the Board of Incorporators
My first real memory of my USI experience is a telephone call from then-Governor Bob Orr, asking me to chair the Board of Incorporators, whose duty would be to make certain specific recommendations to the General Assembly for the establishment of an independent, state-assisted university in southern Indiana. My immediate response was: “Bob, I’ve been trying to get away from higher education.” (I had joined Ball Corporation as vice president, corporate relations after leaving the presidency of Ball State University.) His response was that I had been selected because of my experience in higher education, as well as my having joined the corporate world, plus the fact that I came from “north of state road 40.”

"His response was that I had been selected because of my experience in higher education, as well as my having joined the corporate world, plus the fact that I came from 'north of state road 40.'"
Having been told that the legislature had passed a bill authorizing the establishing of such a board, I called the Legislative Services Bureau and asked for a copy of the bill. I was told they would send one to me if I would send a check in the amount of 10 cents! I suggested that they call the Governor’s office about this, since the Governor had indicated that he would call back on Monday for my answer. They sent me the bill.

One of my fondest memories is that of the opportunity to work again with Bob Fair. He was a great leader in the State Senate, and he was a strong member of the Board of Incorporators and, later, the Board of Trustees, including its chairmanship.

Another fond memory is that of working with Bill Brooks, editor and publisher of the Vincennes Sun Commercial. He also was a strong trustee. I asked for an executive session of the board for the purpose of establishing the salary of Dr. David Rice, who had been elected president earlier in the day. Bill asked to speak at the outset of the executive session. He observed that, as a newspaper person, he was not fond of the practice of boards of public bodies going into executive sessions, and at his very first meeting of the USI Board, he was asked to agree to have an executive session. He did agree, however, and so went on to setting Dave Rice’s salary.

I cannot close without commenting on the very positive contributions of the staff to my six years as a member of the boards – Incorporators and Trustees, especially Dave Rice, Byron Wright [vice president emeritus of Business Affairs and treasurer emeritus], Bob Reid [provost and vice president emeritus of Academic Affairs], and Sherrianne Standley [vice president for Advancement]. (Of course, Dave and Byron got their starts in administration at Ball State!) There were – and are – many, many other very fine members of the staff – administrators and faculty – but the work of those four individuals in the first critical years of USI was a pleasure to witness.

Thanks to Governor Orr for the rewarding opportunity afforded me to help USI prove the wisdom of establishing the separate, independent University of Southern Indiana.

Dr. John J. Pruis
Chair, USI Board of Incorporators
President, Ball State University, 1968-78


Celebrating independence
I have worked at the University for 27 years and have seen a lot of changes and new buildings being erected. It has been very exciting to see all the changes.

Two memorable experiences stand out for me. When USI gained independence from Indiana State University, the offices were closed and we all gathered in the Physical Activities Center. Governor Robert Orr signed the bill making USI an independent state university. A huge crowd gathered. Afterwards we were treated with ice cream sundaes and good fellowship.

Another exciting time was when the Orr Center was being built. We knew that the School of Business would be housed in the third floor. At times we were given hard hats to wear, and we would come and look at the improvements for our building.

There have been lots of memories and good friendships established over the years.

Mary McGrew
Senior Administrative Assistant
USI College of Business


ISUE and USI — one school or two?
"I completed the two-year degree when the school was ISUE and the four-year degree under USI. I listed my education on my resume this way. When I interviewed with a local company, I was asked why I switched universities."
I am a graduate of USI (real name is Niles), and my son (Kyle) will be a sophomore next year (2005). Also, both of my brothers (Steve and Randy) attended classes at USI or then ISUE. My oldest brother, Steve, attended one semester while recovering from a broken leg. My other brother Randy attended several years working towards an engineering degree.

I have an interesting story for you. I started working towards an associate degree in computer information systems. After completing the two-year degree and seeing no job opportunities, I continued to complete the four-year degree. I completed the two-year degree when the school was ISUE and the four-year degree under USI. I listed my education on my resume this way. When I interviewed with a local company, I was asked why I switched universities.

Skip Besing ’87, computer information systems
Newburgh, Indiana



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