Lilly CEO, ex-gov to speak at commencement


Eli Lilly & Co. CEO John Lechleiter and former Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan are the speakers for this year’s commencement exercises at the University of Indianapolis.

Kernan will speak at the Graduate Programs Commencement ceremony, which begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 4, in UIndy’s Nicoson Hall basketball arena.

Lechleiter will speak at the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony, which begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 5, in Nicoson Hall. That ceremony will be webcast live at


Kernan, who will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from UIndy, served as lieutenant governor and then governor of Indiana from 1997 to 2005, working on issues including job development, education, veterans’ affairs and health care. He also is one of Indiana’s most honored veterans, having flown 26 missions during the Vietnam War and receiving the Navy Commendation Medal, two Purple Hearts and the Distinguished Flying Cross. After leaving office, he co-chaired the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform. Until recently, he was president and co-owner of Minor League Baseball’s South Bend Silver Hawks.

Lechleiter is chairman, president and chief executive officer of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co., which he joined in 1979 as a senior organic chemist. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Xavier University and master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard University. Along with his global leadership of Lilly, he has been active in local civic life, most recently serving as co-chair of the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee. He is a member of the American Chemical Society and Business Roundtable. He also is chairman of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and serves on the boards of United Way Worldwide, Xavier University, Life Sciences Foundation, Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and Nike Inc.

Lechleiter will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree at the May 5 undergraduate ceremony. Former UIndy President Jerry Israel also will receive an honorary degree, Doctor of Social Science.

A projected 780 undergraduates and 441 graduate students are expected to earn diplomas this academic year at UIndy’s main campus. With the inclusion of international programs, the university expects to graduate 1,403 students this year, representing 24 states and 17 nations.