University of Southern Indiana

USI trustees approve Reid and Thurman Sala for honorary degrees

USI trustees approve Reid and Thurman Sala for honorary degrees

3/6/2014 | University Communications
News Photo

At its regular meeting on March 6, 2014, the University of Southern Indiana Board of Trustees approved more than 1,438 candidates for doctoral, master's, bachelor's, and associate's degrees, as well as honorary degrees for Robert L. Reid, provost emeritus and professor emeritus of USI, and Christa C. Thurman Sala, curator of textiles of the Art Institute of Chicago and long-time friend, supporter, and volunteer for USI. The degrees will be presented at Spring Commencement ceremonies May 2-3, 2014.

An honorary degree from USI is the highest form of recognition granted by the institution.  Individuals selected to receive an honorary degree exemplify the highest ideals of integrity, service, and dedication to learning.

Robert Reid – Doctor of Laws Degree

For more than three decades, Reid’s leadership of a committed faculty and academic administration established the academic base of the University, as well as the University’s commitment to excellence in teaching. He led the shaping of academic policy, identified and developed quality academic programs, established assessment and quality improvement procedures, and was a strong proponent of the University’s mission.

While at USI, Reid led by example, building bridges between faculty and community during the University’s formative years. Under his leadership, partnerships were first developed between area hospitals and health care organizations, K-12 schools and regional community colleges, as well as cooperative programs with other state universities and the Indiana Higher Educational Telecommunications System. He was an early proponent of collaboration between the University of Southern Indiana and Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center. He was a trustee of the Indiana Historical Society and chaired the Indiana Humanities Council, the Vanderburgh County Historical Society, and the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra.

Reid represented USI in regional and national academic organizations, including senior leadership roles in the North Central Association Higher Learning Commission (HLC). He also served the HLC as a consultant/evaluator for more than 30 years.


Christa Thurman Sala – Doctor of Arts Degree

Born in Germany, Thurman Sala obtained her bachelor’s degree from Finch College in New York and a Master of Arts from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. She was the assistant curator of textiles at the Cooper-Union Museum in New York for seven years, and later became chair and curator of the Department of Textiles for the Art Institute of Chicago, where she spent nearly 42 years of her career. She was named curator emerita of the Art Institute in April 2010, a title the Institute has used only once previously. 

During her tenure at the Art Institute of Chicago, Thurman Sala was honored with the Charles F. Montgomery Prize, the College Art Association /Heritage Preservation Joint Award for Distinction in Scholarship and Conservation, and was elected honorary fellow of the American Craft Council. In 2004, she received a research fellowship from the J. Paul Getty Museum. She curated more than 80 exhibitions at the Art Institute, held leading positions with the Centre Internationales d’Etude des Textiles Anciens (CIETA), and was involved in national and international textile organizations. She continues to work as an independent textile historian, consultant, author, lecturer, and volunteer.

Thurman Sala was married to Dr. Lawrence Thurman, the first curator of the Harmonie Society’s final home at Economie in Pennsylvania. She has been helping the University analyze and care for its collections in New Harmony, Indiana, for nearly as long as USI has been involved there. Through her work, important textiles have been conserved at the Art Institute. She also served on Historic New Harmony’s Collections Review Committee and worked on the development of a collections management policy. Her substantial monetary investment in the University will continue to support USI’s work in New Harmony well into the future.

Benefits Changes

The trustees also approved changes recommended by the Benefits Study Group affecting retiree insurance eligibility, the defined contribution plan for faculty and administrators, and changes to PERF retirement benefits for support staff—all effective July 1, 2014. Details of the approved recommendations are available online.

“The most effective way to maintain our affordability is through rigorous cost control, and benefits are, these days, a major expense that every responsible organization has to watch closely and adapt as necessary,” said Mark Rozewski, USI vice president for finance and administration. “While painful, these changes are in the best long-term interest of our students, faculty, and staff as they reinforce our ongoing operational ethos of careful stewardship of taxpayer funds and student tuition.”

Trustees also reviewed and approved the annual audit plan and received a regular construction update from Physical Plant staff.

News Photo

Robert Reid, provost emeritus and professor emeritus of USI receives an honorary degree.

Contact John Farless


Send Email to