Dr. H. Ray Hoops became the second president of the University of Southern Indiana in July 1994 and served in that capacity for 15 years until retirement in 2009. During his tenure, he forged important community partnerships and oversaw dramatic growth in the University's assets, enrollment, student life opportunities, academic excellence, and capital projects.
His undergraduate degree is from Eastern Illinois University. His master's and doctoral degrees in audiology and speech sciences are from Purdue University. He also completed an M.B.A. at Moorhead State University.
His wife is Linda Hoops. She had a career as consultant and educator in hotel and restaurant management and assisted with outreach and hospitality to USI donors and community leaders. As chief executive President Hoops positioned USI to be an agent for economic development. From two studies he commissioned on workforce and economic development, the University implemented recommendations and added academic programs in a dozen areas including an undergraduate program in engineering. Four new graduate programs and 11 new academic majors were introduced during the Hoops presidency.
The Hoops' years saw development of the University's physical plant to include the Liberal Arts Center, the Recreation and Fitness Center, the Education Center and Torrington Wing of the Science Center, Rice Library, and the start of construction of the Business and Engineering Center and a second expansion of the University Center, plus four residence halls.
Dr. Hoops started an initiative for employees, faculty, and students to make important contributions through volunteerism. Volunteer USI records more than 32,000 volunteer hours annually.
Dr. Hoops led the University through its first capital campaign, Campaign USI, in 1997. The successful campaign exceeded its goal, raising a total of $18 million in gifts and pledges and $6 million in deferred gifts. During the Hoops' presidency, the assets of the USI Foundation reached $70 million.
As president, Dr. Hoops saw enrollment increase by 20 percent to 10,126 in fall 2008.
Before arriving at USI, Dr. Hoops served as the vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Mississippi. He received the National Council of State Governments Association Award for his pioneering work on Project '95, a blueprint for the reform of education in the state of Mississippi. He also received the Peterson's Guide Award for contributions to the education of minority students in the innovative and highly successful graduate participation initiative.
During his presidency, Dr. Hoops was involved in the community through many organizations, including the Deaconess Hospital Board of Directors, the Evansville Education Roundtable, and the Southwest Indiana Economic Development Task Force. He served as a member and chair of the Board of Directors of WNIN and was a director of the Southwest Indiana Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. In 2004, he was honored as the recipient of the Evansville Rotary Civic Award. He served the American Association of State College and Universities (AASCU) as a director and as a member of its Committee on Professional Development and its Council of State Representatives. He was a director and chair of the Indiana Conference of Higher Education and chair of the Great Lakes Valley Conference President's Council. Following his retirement as president in 2009, the Board of Trustees named him Chancellor.
Dr. David L. Rice served as administrative head of the campus when he arrived in 1967 and led the University for 27 years. He became president in 1971. His administration oversaw the development of USI from a regional campus of Indiana State University to a separate state university known as the University of Southern Indiana in 1985. He was named the dean of the campus in the institution's third year while it operated in a century-old former elementary school building. The University's first buildings were constructed and opened in 1969 on a 300-acre tract in the 1,400-acre Mid America University Center. The center's land was purchased through local fund raising efforts by Southern Indiana Higher Education, Inc. Dr. Rice earned his undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degrees from Purdue University.
His wife is Betty F. Rice, who assisted with campus hospitality. Also a graduate of Purdue University, she planned and hosted special events, educated people about USI, generated resources for the young university, and linked USI with the community. As official hostess for USI, she introduced new friends to the University. She is a friend to USI students and generated resources to help students reach their individual potential. A civic leader, Mrs. Rice is one of Evansville's most active volunteers.
As president, Dr. Rice, with the help of community and state leaders, focused on serving students well, improved the educational attainment level of the citizens of southern Indiana, positively impacted economic and workforce development, and brought innovative faculty together with the communities of the southern Indiana region.
Dr. Rice, known as a visionary, had an ability to move the University in directions which were rooted deeply in resources in the region. He is credited with making this public university accessible and affordable. His plan for continued growth helped bring southern Indiana's college participation rate up to and above the state average.
The Science Center and Administration Building, the library, University Center, the Technology Center, the Orr Center, and the Physical Activities Center (PAC) opened during the Rice administration.
When Dr. Rice joined the University, enrollment was 922 students. Enrollment reached 7,443 the year he retired.
The USI Board of Trustees recognized his outstanding leadership by naming the library in his honor. Rice Plaza, a landscaped garden and fountain, is a beautiful area of campus that recalls to students and visitors the service of both Dr. and Mrs. Rice to USI.
Before coming to Evansville, Dr. Rice was on the faculty and served as director of Research at Ball State University. While on faculty leave from BSU, Dr. Rice served as vice president of the Cooperative Education Research Laboratory in Indianapolis during 1966 and as research coordinator in the Bureau of Research in the U.S. Office of Education in 1965 in Washington, D.C.