Urban legend: Indianapolis has become a model of city leadership and metropolitan development


UIndy’s hosting of an historic event on March 11—bringing five Indianapolis mayors together for a conversation about the city’s future—served as a springboard for announcement of the new Institute for Civic Leadership & Mayoral Archives at the University.

A public campaign is now under way to raise $7.5 million to establish the Institute in Krannert Memorial Library, where its collection of papers (see “Treasure trove”) can be digitized and preserved and where it can spearhead additional public discussions and scholarly activity. The campaign was jump-started with more than $1 million in pledges from current and former trustees.

“Five Mayors: An Evening of Insight & Vision,” cosponsored with the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and Star Media, demonstrated the active role the Institute will play in the city. Former mayors Richard G. Lugar, William H. Hudnut, Stephen Goldsmith, and Bart Peterson joined current mayor Greg Ballard in assessing the city’s emergence as a progressive metropolitan center and its prospects for future growth and vitality.

Speaking before a full house in Ransburg Auditorium, President Beverley Pitts opened the evening by announcing the creation of the Institute and the University’s collection of mayoral artifacts and papers donated by the former mayors. Since then, a campaign committee chaired by civic leader (and former UIndy trustee) David R. Frick has been working with University staff to raise the funds needed to carve out appropriate space for the Institute in the library, enable preservation and digitization of materials, and support ongoing operations.

Frick, retired executive vice president and chief administrative officer of WellPoint, served as a deputy mayor in the Hudnut administration. Also serving on the committee are Michael O’Connor, director of state government affairs for Eli Lilly & Co. and former chief deputy mayor for Peterson; civic leader Yvonne Shaheen, a UIndy trustee; Ersal Ozdemir, president and chief executive officer of Keystone Construction Corp. and a UIndy trustee; Anne Shane, civic leader and former chief of staff for Goldsmith; and Gene E. Sease, chair and partner of Sease Gerig and Associates—and UIndy’s president from 1970 to 1988.

Listen to highlights from Five Mayors: An Evening of Insight & Vision at http://1400.uindy.edu, and watch for details of a mayoral debate, the next significant civic event to take place under the auspices of the new Institute later this year.

Treasure trove

UIndy’s mayoral archives capture a significant era in the city’s history—a period that began with Unigov and included the creation of White River State Park, the financing of Circle Centre Mall, and the arrival of an NFL football team, among many other improvements. Already, scholars and urban planners around the country look to Indianapolis for lessons on metropolitan development. Former Indianapolis mayors Richard Lugar, William Hudnut, Stephen Goldsmith, and Bart Peterson—all of whom have served as University trustees—have committed their mayoral papers and related items to the University.

Taken separately, each mayor’s papers represent a significant body of work. Together, the archival material and artifacts offer information that could benefit other municipalities and provide insights to historians and urban planners seeking to understand the development of the city. The new Institute will digitize the mayoral collection, which now fills 450 boxes in a storage room of the University’s Krannert Memorial Library, while continuing to acquire and preserve other materials that chronicle the Indianapolis story. As such, the collection is conceived as a living archive.

The Institute, to be housed in a renovated section of the library, will be a hub for research, workshops, conferences, and public conversations related to urban government and civic leadership—starting with a public debate this fall between the city’s two mayoral candidates. The Indianapolis Star and television station WTHR will join the University in cohosting this event (date to be announced).
The Institute also will fill a role in civics education for Indiana secondary and postsecondary students, connecting with UIndy’s academic programs as well as its Lugar Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders. Visit www.uindy.edu/news for more information.