Nearly 300 University of Indianapolis alumni have worked for Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Company, a global healthcare leader and Fortune 500 company. The University held a special gathering this month to recognize their impact and the connections they’ve made worldwide. Several UIndy faculty and staff members reconnected with their former students at an alumni breakfast.
A group of teenagers dressed in blue T-shirts were gathered around workbenches in front of the University’s Physical Plant on a recent warm summer’s day, learning the finer points of wood-cutting with power tools.
But these aren’t your average teens working a summer job. Hailing from high schools throughout the Indianapolis metro area, the students are participating in TeenWorks, a summer employment and college readiness program that provides opportunities for hundreds of teenagers. Indiana philanthropist Gene B. Glick started the initiative in 1981 with the goal of providing teens with a summer job to teach them the principles of self-discipline, a hard day’s work and giving back to the community.
A partnership at the University of Indianapolis is strengthening ties with the local Burmese-American community. The Burmese American Community Institute (BACI) held the Upward College Program on campus this summer to allow UIndy students to collaborate with and learn from members of this growing immigrant community.
Nearly 650 years of experience and service were recognized last week when the University of Indianapolis hosted the 2017 Celebration Dinner, honoring faculty, staff and administrators who have reached career milestones or are retiring this year.
The honorees and their guests and admirers enjoyed a meal, conversation and award presentations Friday in UIndy Hall. Read more
Jim Ream, associate professor of theatre at the University of Indianapolis, never imagined he’d work at one place for 45 years, or that he would have become a theatre professor in the first place.
Before joining the University, Ream earned his master’s degree in religion and was considering the ministry or working for a church headquarters in their media department. He even thought about creating a traveling religious drama troupe. Teaching at a college seemed like an interesting idea to him, but he figured that it was “just a pipe dream.”
That changed in 1972 when he was asked by Dick Williams–the University’s sole theatre faculty member at the time– to stage-manage a show at what was then Indiana Central College (University of Indianapolis). When Williams went on sabbatical, Ream was asked to step in, launching the next four and a half decades of his career.
As a nod to the many positive ways Ream has influenced the people and campus, the University honored his service and commitment at this year’s Commencement ceremony by awarding him an honorary degree, allowing the entire campus community to celebrate his contributions.
“I am still stunned at receiving the honor of the degree,” he said of the surprise robing ceremony. “I have so many great colleagues, and I feel very self-conscious and honored to be recognized in this way. This is one of the few times in my life that I couldn’t have dreamed would ever happen. I am very thankful.”
It was a proud moment in the spotlight for a faculty member whose focus has been largely behind the scenes. A theatre generalist who specializes in scenic design, Ream has been active in other areas, including acting, directing and sound. He has taught scenic design classes as well as radio and television, public speaking, audio technology and introduction to theatre.
“From the beginning, I have designed scenery for our productions and attempted to teach our students how to do the same while balancing safety, functionality and artistry,” he said. Ream has quietly served the University in many ways during his tenure, and his influence is felt by many who have had the good fortune to work with him.
Jeffrey Barnes, director of University Events, has worked with Ream since 1994, first as a student and then as a colleague. “I use lessons and skills that I learned from him every day both in my professional and personal life. I have never met a more genuine person,” he said.
Christie Beckmann, also a former theatre student and colleague for more than 20 years, added: “Jim taught me to always see the good in people, and that you never lose anything by giving,” she said. “He was one of the people who inspired me in my current vocation of becoming a pastor.”
In addition to working with University of Indianapolis theatre, Ream has worked with numerous Indianapolis theatres to design sets including the City Center Children’s Theatre, Beckmann Theatre, Civic Theatre (Indianapolis), Edyvean Repertory Theatre and the Phoenix Theatre. His set designs earned three Corbin Patrick Award nominations and the Best Set Design award for the Phoenix Theatre’s production of Fences. Ream has also designed sets around the country, including One Voice at Ten Ten Theatre in New York, Noises Off in Brainerd, Minn., and Young Black Beauty at Stage One in Louisville.
“While I have enjoyed my many roles on stage, the applause during a curtain call and the accolades from friends and family afterward, I truly appreciate the behind-the-scenes work as a designer,” said Ream. “In fact, on the two rare occasions when my scenic designs received applause as the curtain and lights came up, I was torn between feelings a pride and embarrassment. A good design should support the production and not call attention to itself. This represents the person that I strive to be.”
Ream also lives his commitment to education for service in his personal life serving as a leader for the past 25 years at the summer camp hosted by his church Southport Christian Church. He volunteers with the United Way and even creates the design of the commencement stage at the University each year.
As Ream looks forward to retirement, he knows he will miss UIndy students and his colleagues.
“We had an incredible group of freshmen this year, which made it a really enjoyable year. I view my work at UIndy as a service and always have. I attempt to serve our students with good teaching,” Ream said.
Ream’s first play he performed in: King Lear in 1968 at Culver Stockton College. Four decades later, Ream performed as King Lear at UIndy’s production in 2015.
First show he designed: You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
Hardest show to design: Hello, Dolly! “The expectation of spectacle is high.”
One play everyone should see: Les Liasions Dangereuses. “It’s one of those plays that hooked me. I love plays that get you laughing and then slap you in the face.”
Favorite UIndy memory: Doing Godspell with the students and taking it on a tour across the country in the mid 1970s. “We went all over the state, and we also went to the west coast for a spring term trip and performed in many churches.”
Favorite theatre: The Stratford theatres in Canada and England and also the theatre at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.
Retirement plans: Visit New Zealand. “I’m also looking forward to spending time being a grandparent.”
Random UIndy story: In the early days of WICR (the campus radio station), the station’s antenna was on the roof of Ransburg Auditorium. A winter storm hit and coated the antenna with ice, not allowing the 10-watt signal to be broadcast. Ream climbed up to the roof of Ransburg, then climbed up the 50-foot tower, carrying a hammer and wearing a hard hat and goggles in order to knock the ice off.
As downtown Indianapolis welcomes thousands of race fans leading up to the Indianapolis 500, the talent of Katherine Fries, art faculty at the University of Indianapolis, will be showcased on the Indianapolis ArtsGarden.
Fries, assistant professor of art and design at the University, is one of five local artists commissioned to create signs welcoming fans to Indianapolis at locations across the city. The project connects Indianapolis’ thriving arts culture with the historic Indianapolis 500 and celebrates the history, culture and excitement of the month of May.
Nearly 1,500 graduates received degrees from the University of Indianapolis during the May 2017 Commencement ceremony, which also served to showcase the impact of the institution’s students, alumni and faculty across the state and world.
University President Robert Manuel highlighted how the local and global community benefits from the University’s service-learning initiatives and praised graduates for their commitment to those programs.
We couldn’t fit all of our fabulous May 2017 graduates in this slide show, but here’s a look at some of this spring’s graduating class.
Longtime faculty and staff will see a familiar face among this year’s honorary degree recipients at the University of Indianapolis.
Dr. Kenneth “Doc” Borden will receive an honorary degree, along with Dr. Katherine Welch ’93 and Marc Adams ’81. Borden joined the faculty in 1968 and was instrumental in the growth and expansion of the University over the next 30 years.