Indiana State University Newsroom

ISU Foundation honors philanthropists

April 20, 2009

An alumni couple who established scholarships and are helping fund a new sports facility, a retired faculty member who continues to give generously of his time and resources and the state's sixth largest school system were honored Saturday (April 18) by the Indiana State University Foundation.

During its third annual Philanthropy Awards Dinner at Hulman Memorial Student Union, the foundation recognized Mary and Mike Blackwell, Gregory Ulm and the Vigo County School Corp. for significant contributions to the university and its students.

The Blackwells, Vigo County natives who graduated in 1970 and 1971, respectively, have established scholarships for students in geology, elementary education, baseball student-athletes, and outstanding members of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.

Mary Blackwell holds a degree in elementary education and was active in the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority while at Indiana State. Mike Blackwell graduated with a degree in geology, played football and baseball for the Sycamores and was an Alpha Tau Omega member.

In addition to establishing scholarships named for the couples' parents, Mark Blackwell and S.E. "Bud" Brussell, the Blackwells have been a catalyst for major renovation and improvements to ISU baseball facilities, including the construction of a new stadium at Sycamore Field, a project announced recently in conjunction with "March On! The Campaign for Indiana State University," the foundation's comprehensive fund-raising campaign.

"Mary and Mark Blackwell embody the ISU Foundation's mission through their interest in our students and engagement in the life of Indiana State University," said foundation President Gene Crume.

Mike Blackwell is president and lead scientist for Mississippi Oil Co., which he and his business partners established in 1982. The Jackson, Miss.-based company is one of the most active oil and gas exploration firms in the southeastern U.S.

Ulm is an Indiana State alumnus and professor emeritus of education. He served as principal of the university's lab school prior to its closing in 1985 and as chair of the department of educational leadership, administration and foundations.

He remains active at the university by serving on dissertation committees, mentoring students and faculty, as an Educational Leadership Advisory member, and by working on various projects to promote ISU and the College of Education.

As the last principal of the lab school, Ulm has made a commitment to help preserve the legacy of the building and transforming today's education at the university. His work surrounds the structure's historical and future significance, including: archival research, chairing a work group of emeriti and current faculty, and worked to prepare information to support a historical timeline in the newly renovated University Hall. The building will re-open this fall as the new home of the College of Education.

"This commitment shows Dr. Ulm's love and dedication for the university. ISU provided him great memories through an education, career and home. His contributions have and still continue to truly enrich the entire community," Crume said.

The Vigo County School Corp. has a longstanding partnership with Indiana State University and hosts hundreds of pre-service teachers from ISU each year. The university has designated its teacher education program as a Program of National Distinction, a designation made possible in part through the dedicated role of partner K-12 school systems such as Vigo County, Crume noted.

In addition to hosting student-teachers, Vigo County Schools commit clinical faculty associates to the work of the ISU College of Education, allowing one-year sabbaticals for teacher leaders to enhance their professional development and strengthen pre-service teacher preparation. In addition, school administrators serve as adjunct professors and collaborate to invite aspiring school leaders into the profession of educational leadership.

"The steadfast commitment of Vigo County Schools has helped Indiana State University produce thousands of school leaders for our state and improve K-12 student learning year after year," Crume said. "The Vigo County School Corp. has been a strong supporter of community philanthropy standing with ISU to help make a difference in the lives of others."

Also Saturday, the foundation inducted alumnus Darrell Wible into its Book and Torch Society, which recognizes individuals who have made lifetime gifts of more than $100,000, and announced creation of the "John P. Newton Spirit of ISU Award." To be presented starting in 2010, the award will recognize those who embody the spirit and commitment to the university shown by Newton, a Terre Haute native and 1970 ISU graduate.

Newton is retiring this year after nearly four decades of service to the university and the foundation, most recently as vice president for alumni and constituent relations.

Recognizing philanthropy Indiana State University President Daniel J. Bradley (left) poses with ISU Foundation 2009 Philanthropy Award recipients (left to right) Gregory Ulm, Mary Blackwell, Mike Blackwell and foundation President Gene Crume. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Contact: Kim Bloch, communications coordinator, Indiana State University Foundation, 812-237-8875 or 

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or


Story Highlights

An alumni couple who established scholarships and are helping fund a new sports facility, a retired faculty member who continues to give generously of his time and resources and the states sixth largest school system have been honored with Philanthropy Awards by the Indiana State University Foundation.

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