Twenty years ago this August, John Moore became president of Indiana State University.
On Wednesday, Moore turned an oversized, gold-colored key wrapped in a royal blue ribbon to ceremonially unlock a building that current university leaders say appropriately commemorates his eight-year tenure as Indiana State’s ninth president.
The John W. Moore Welcome Center “will be the place where generations of students will unlock their future at Indiana State,” said Richard Toomey, associate vice president for enrollment management.
“We found it to be a fitting tribute to a campus leader who so passionately advocated for services for students, excellence in teaching and for many partnerships that continue to benefit ISU today,” said Alexus Tucker, student member of the university’s board of trustees.
“Naming our new welcome center in your honor is a direct outcome of the welcoming environment you created for our students, faculty and staff,” Dan Bradley, Indiana State’s 11th and current president, told Moore. “Your commitment to enhancing the student experience, building leadership, embracing diversity, utilizing technology and improving access to higher education opportunities is unparalleled. Thank you for all that you have done for Indiana State University, our students, our alumni and our faculty and staff.”
Major initiatives Indiana State launched during Moore’s presidency included the President’s Scholars Program, Student Academic Services Center, Lilly First-Year Experience Program, reading and math centers, student ombudsperson program and the Course Transformation Academy. Moore also formed a number of partnerships to extend the university’s services, including Degree Link to streamline four-year degree completion for students from Vincennes University and Ivy Tech Community College and the Professional Development Schools partnership with K-12 schools. His presidency also saw construction of the Student Computing Complex, the Richard G. Landini Center for Performing and Fine Arts, the John T. Myers Technology Center and Oakley Place at the southwest entrance to campus.
Located off the Dede Plaza fountain in the former Family and Consumer Sciences Building at the heart of Indiana State’s campus, the Moore Welcome Center serves as the “front door” of the university. Designed as a living room, the main area of the newly renovated 22,000-square-foot building features 11 interactive transparent touch screens students and visitors can use to learn about the university’s history, academic programs and services. When not in use by visitors, those same screens are interconnected, displaying an ever-changing array of choreographed videos and photographs. Guests can watch an introductory video on a nine-section LCD screen in the center’s new 50-seat theater, equipped with a surround-sound system.
The Moore Welcome Center houses the Office of Admissions, New Student Transitions Program, University Testing, Scholarship Office, the veterans’ services officer and an associate director of financial aid.
Prior to the unlocking ceremony, some of Moore’s former colleagues at Indiana State joined Bradley and a recent President’s Scholar in paying tribute to his leadership.
Paul Edgerton, who served vice president for student affairs, recalled that Moore appointed the university’s first female vice president, first female athletic director and first African-American head men’s basketball coach in Marilyn Schultz, Andrea Myers and Sherman Dillard, respectively.
He also adeptly handled a controversy that ensued when the student body voted for a caricature of a squirrel as the mascot for Sycamore athletic teams, Edgerton said.
Moore assembled a creative team that morphed the squirrel into a mythical blue and white creature that more closely resembles a fox. The result was Sycamore Sam, a “furry woodland creature” that has proven so popular as to spawn a line of stuffed Sams and books.
Sycamore Sam has become “a mascot that has taken on a life of its own who is a symbol of if you’ve got a problem, figure out a way to solve it, solve it and move on, which is what I think John Moore was all about,” Edgerton said.
Bradley said he has great respect for Moore’s “visionary leadership and ability to inspire change.”
The current president related an incident that had been told to him that demonstrated Moore’s passion about the university he lead. It seems a student once showed up at a meeting wearing a shirt emblazoned with the word “Indiana” in red. Before Moore gave his report he taped a piece of paper with the word “State” to the young man’s shirt so that it read “Indiana State.”
“I am sure that the student never showed up in your presence in anything but blue from that day forward,” Bradley said.
Brad Balch, dean of the Bayh College of Education, was an adjunct professor in the educational leadership department during Moore’s presidency. He spoke of Moore’s role as a mentor to him and to other rising faculty members and praised his launch of Degree Link.
“Out of this came a partnership in which ISU became the provider of choice for senior leader training,” Balch said. The program, begun in 1997, has gone on to produce 79 doctoral graduates, with 17 serving in chief executive or central system leadership roles and 19 graduates filling other higher education leadership positions.
“It’s quite a source of pride for us,” Balch said.
Regina Atkins, a 2010 Indiana State graduate who received the John W. Moore Award as her class’ outstanding President’s Scholar, thanked Moore for establishing the scholarship.
“I didn’t have to be my concerned if my family had financial trouble while my older brother and I were both in school,” said Atkins, now an admissions counselor at Indiana State. “I was able to focus on the things that mattered the most as a student: my classes academically and my social interaction as a student.”
The university is committed to affordability for students and the President’s Scholarship is a prime example of that commitment to a small group of deserving students who excel academically while in high school, Atkins said.
“I wasn’t a student under President Moore’s leadership but movements like these don’t happen overnight. It is crystal clear the reasoning behind naming our new campus living room in honor of President Moore,” she said.
Moore said everyone contributes to the success of an institution, from grounds people, administrative assistants and technicians to faculty, staff, administrators and trustees. He noted that a brief walking tour of the campus demonstrated to him how that success has continued since he left the university’s presidency in 2000.
“We honor single individuals; I think symbolically it’s a good thing to do. It makes us feel good,” he said. “But we have to remember that contributions are made by people who will never get their names put up on a building and that’s why I feel somewhat embarrassed and so grateful and appreciative of the efforts and contributions of so many people here at Indiana State that makes this place so great.”