BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Women’s Philanthropy at Indiana University today announced the successful conclusion of a $500,000 matching campaign to create the Visibility Endowment Fund. The endowment will elevate the visibility of women’s leadership and the historical contributions of women and persons from underrepresented communities to IU. The Women’s Philanthropy Visibility Endowment is part of a larger project called “Bridging the Visibility Gap,” which was pioneered by the university’s Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council (WPLC) in conjunction with the ongoing For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign and the celebration of IU’s Bicentennial.
“The IU Bicentennial is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tell a richer and more varied history of the university than we know from what we see or read in the official record,” said IU first lady Laurie Burns McRobbie, founding co-chair of the WPLC. “The Visibility Endowment ensures that the work begun through the Bridging the Visibility Gap project will continue in perpetuity. We are immensely grateful to all of the contributors who have made this a priority in their giving to IU.”
Women and members of diverse populations have been significantly under-represented, through memorial and commemorative namings, for their many contributions as students, staff, faculty, and alumni to the excellence and character of Indiana University. Mechanisms such as named scholarships, chairs and professorships; statues; portraits; historical markers and other physical artifacts can help to highlight their important legacies. The Women’s Philanthropy Visibility Endowment will ensure that IU’s “hidden figures” will be celebrated appropriately as their stories emerge.
Among the first projects to receive funding are commemorative statues of Elinor Ostrom and George Taliaferro and portraits of Carrie Parker Taylor and Camilla Williams, which will be displayed prominently on campus.
- Elinor “Lin” Ostrom: Ostrom was the 2009 recipient of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, better known as the Nobel Prize in Economics, the first woman to be so honored. A long-time IU faculty member, Ostrom held the roles of senior research director of the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Distinguished Professor and Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences, and professor in the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. As a nod to her Nobel Prize-winning work and influence on generations of IU students, a space near Woodburn Hall on the Bloomington campus will feature a historical marker and statue of Ostrom.
- George Taliaferro: As an All-American running back on the Indiana football team in the 1940s, Taliaferro shattered racial barriers on campus, in the Bloomington community and within the sport, becoming the first African-American drafted by a National Football League team. In April 2019, IU President Michael A. McRobbie renamed Memorial Stadium’s north end zone plaza for Taliaferro, and a commemorative statue within the plaza will further recognize and honor his trailblazing legacy.
- Carrie Parker Taylor: Parker Taylor enrolled at IU in 1898 as the university’s first African-American female student. To honor this groundbreaking achievement, a portrait of Parker Taylor was commissioned and was unveiled in March 2017 and is on display in the east lounge of the Indiana Memorial Union as part of the “Women of Indiana University” art exhibit.
- Camilla Williams: Williams was the first African-American faculty member in the Voice Department within IU’s Jacobs School of Music, joining in 1977 as part of a distinguished career spent reframing history. In 1946, she broke the color barrier at the New York City Opera when she sang the title role in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, and in 1963, Williams sang the national anthem moments before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famed “I Have a Dream” speech. A portrait is being commissioned to celebrate Williams’ many accomplishments as a musician and social activist.
The Visibility Endowment effort was launched in 2018 with a 1:1 matching challenge grant from WPLC member and IU alumna Julie Christopher, BA ‘94. In June of 2019, alumna Susan Blankenbaker Noyes, JD ’83, made the culminating gift to reach the match. Ninety-eight donors comprised of WPLC members, alumni, current and emeriti faculty, and staff contributed to the goal.
“The Visibility initiative shines a light on a diverse population of Hoosiers,” said Christopher. “This endowment will ensure that when their time comes, present and future Hoosiers may also be acknowledged and celebrated for their accomplishments.”
If you are interested in supporting the university’s Bridging the Visibility Gap initiative, please contact Rebecca Moorman, Executive Director of Women’s Philanthropy at IU.
Under the leadership of IU’s First Lady, Laurie Burns McRobbie, a group of visionary individuals established Women’s Philanthropy at IU in 2010 as a powerful force for good. Women’s Philanthropy at Indiana University brings women leaders together—providing connections, learning experiences, and opportunities to give back to IU.
The IU Women's Philanthropy Leadership Council was convened by the Indiana University Foundation Board of Directors in 2010. The council's mission is to lead fundraising and engagement efforts that inspire women to give of their time, talent and resources to Indiana University and to develop women leaders in philanthropy.