$1-million gift endows Honors College


Trustees Ron & Laura Strain support program for top students

caronchi_photography_150131_0098The University of Indianapolis Honors College is being renamed in honor of two UIndy alumni and trustees (photo, left) who are providing a million-dollar endowment to fund and enhance its operation. The newly named Ron and Laura Strain Honors College provides top students with rigorous coursework and opportunities for leadership, service, independent study, and faculty-guided research. “This program represents UIndy at its best: identifying young people with strong potential and helping them develop into engaged citizens who contribute to their communities,” President Robert Manuel said. “We’re extremely pleased that the Strains recognize the value of this work and are providing support that will transform the opportunities in this area.”

Ron Strain, who grew up in Indianapolis, is retired as vice president-finance and treasurer at Miller Brewing Co. His wife, Laura, originally from Odon, Ind., is retired as senior vice president for marketing and public relations with U.S. Bank East Group. Now living in Naples, Florida, they met as students at UIndy and joined the University’s Board of Trustees in 2013. “UIndy holds a special place in our hearts, since it is where we met and grew into adulthood,” the Strains said in a written statement. “We are thankful for the foundation UIndy provided, which defines who we are today as individuals and as a couple. “Our goal is for students participating in the Honors College to become immersed in an interdisciplinary learning environment—one that will provide the skills needed for lifelong personal and professional success.”

The Ron and Laura Strain Honors College is open to students in all majors and schools, including those enrolled in preprofessional programs. Freshmen entering the University under certain scholarships are invited to apply for admission, and other students may apply if they meet grade and credit requirements. For each member, the experience culminates with the organization and execution of an approved honors project, a record of which is bound and housed in the permanent collection of UIndy’s Krannert Memorial Library.

Academic possibilities

Honors_College_0016The new endowment will establish a substantive annual budget for the program’s academic operations, such as interdisciplinary study, conference attendance for selected students, and promotion of presentations, as well as underwriting faculty-undergraduate research projects. Possible initiatives include organizing more events for the broader campus community, launching a speaker series, and creating a larger grant pool to which member students can apply to fund community-based service and engagement projects. Dr. James Williams, assistant professor of History, has been named as the interim executive director of the Ron & Laura Strain Honors College. Williams holds degrees from Purdue University, Oxford University, and the College of William and Mary. He has taught classes in ancient Rome, medieval history, early modern Europe, and Latin America. His research focuses on the cultural history of the Carolingian age (c. 800 CE), with several publications on topics ranging from the seven deadly sins in medieval monasticism to Carolingian intellectual movements against heresy. He is currently working toward his first monograph on the cult of the Virgin Mary in the Carolingian period.