Rooney to receive honorary degree

April 27 2006

A civil rights champion and advocate of social causes, J. Patrick Rooney has made major contributions to business, education, and equality. Indiana State University will recognize Rooney with an honorary doctor of laws degree during spring commencement May 6.

Since 1976, Rooney has led the fight against discrimination in the field of insurance. That year he filed what became an eight-year lawsuit against the State of Illinois and Educational Testing Services charging intentional discrimination against minority applicants taking insurance agent testing. The case was settled with a precedent-setting agreement that requires a method of examinations designed to eliminate unnecessary racial disparities.

Rooney's concern for social justice received national attention in 1991 when he founded the Educational CHOICE Charitable Trust in Indianapolis. The trust provides tuition assistance to Indianapolis' center city lower income students whose families prefer their children attend a non-government school of their choice.

Rooney's establishment of the CHOICE Trust started a ripple affect across the country. His initiative has contributed to the development of over 60 such programs that provide over 53,000 students privately funded educational choices. Due in part to this innovative support of minority education, Rooney was selected as Citizen of the Year by the Hispanic Education Center in Indiana in 1996.

Chairman and chief executive officer of Golden Rule Insurance Company for more than two decades, Rooney built the company into one of the nation's leaders in the health insurance market and guaranteed its success as the largest insurer of individual health insurance policies in the country. After retiring from Golden Rule, Rooney acquired the Medical Savings Insurance Company, where he now serves as chairman and chief executive officer.

As leader of Medical Savings Insurance, Rooney again gained national attention in 1991-1992 with a proposal to solve the nation's health care crises. His proposal called for the creation of medical savings accounts that would control medical costs while providing Americans with affordable health care based on tax fairness.

Statistics show that since implementation of this program, more than 73 percent of those who now have individual medical savings plan are Americans who previously had no insurance. No other program has been as successful in reducing the number of uninsured in America. Today, health savings account programs based on Rooney's program are taking over the health insurance market in America.

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Story Highlights

J. Patrick Rooney, civil rights champion, advocate of social causes, and retired chairman and CEO of Golden Rule Insurance Co., will receive an honorary doctor of laws degrees during ISU's 135th commencement.

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