Indiana State University Newsroom

Planned gift adds $3.8M to student activity fund

April 7, 2017

Creative. Competitive. Generous.

Those words are how Indiana State University President Dan Bradley remembers his friend Michael Simmons.

A true Sycamore, Simmons, '64, used those qualities to forever change the experience of Indiana State students. He co-founded the Sycamore Tricycle Derby in October 1963 with his good friends, Tom, '64, and Debbie Bareford, '64, GR '67, as a way to keep students on campus during the weekend.

The "Trike" race was nurtured by a cadre of students and staff in the '70s and '80s before growing into the Homecoming tradition it is today. It also spurred the idea for a tandem bicycle race each spring -- both of which are now headquartered in the Michael Simmons Activity Center.

Simmons died Feb. 7 in Florida at the age of 77, but a $3.8 million planned gift to the Michael Simmons Student Activity Endowment will continue to inspire Simmons' love of teamwork -- and the lifelong skills it instills -- and will touch countless Sycamores for generations to come.

"Impacting our students was at the heart of everything Michael did for Indiana State, including his service as a volunteer leader for numerous years," Bradley said. "Although he humbly accepted the honors that came his way, his actions were never about drawing attention to himself. They were always about the effect they would have on shaping or transforming our students."

"Michael's generosity has provided a special legacy for our university," said Ron Carpenter, vice president for development and CEO of the ISU Foundation. "This gift will allow our students numerous opportunities to get involved on campus and develop important skills that extend beyond their time at Indiana State."

Simmons' contributions will be honored at this year's Tandem Race with a moment of silence and memorial parade lap at 10:45 a.m. Saturday, April 8. The race will start at 11 a.m.

"Michael Simmons was a True Blue Sycamore. He was ‘More to Blue' long before the university started using the tag line," said Rex Kendall, executive director of the Indiana State University Alumni Association. "Michael was passionate about providing opportunities for students to participate in out-of-classroom experiences. His generous donation to build the Michael Simmons Student Activities Center -- home of the Tricycle Derby and the Tandem Race -- will ensure students, now and long into the future, continue to gain valuable team-building and leadership opportunities. His support, dedication and love for his alma mater was evident by his actions, generous support and unselfish service. He will be sorely missed by his friends, TKE fraternity brothers and fellow Sycamores."

The Michael Simmons Student Activity Endowment was established in 2013 to increase student participation in extracurricular, team-based programs that foster the development of leadership and teamwork skills. The funds are distributed through an application process.

"Michael Simmons' life exemplified the power of an engaged ISU education. He firmly believed that the experiences he gained as a student leader prepared him for the success he achieved throughout his life, and he was dedicated to making sure future students have the same opportunities," said Nancy Rogers, vice president for University Engagement. "Mr. Simmons' generosity will benefit generations of Sycamores by engaged them in quality team-oriented experiences outside of the classroom. His legacy will be substantial. I am pleased to have known him and tremendously grateful for his lifelong support of his beloved alma mater."

During his time as a student, Simmons immersed himself in campus life while majoring in life sciences. Simmons was a proud member of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. He was also instrumental in the formation of Team Sycamore Racing, a student-based drag racing team.

"He was a personal friend who I admired greatly and aspire to be more like," Bradley said. "We will miss Michael greatly but his spirit will continue to resound through our campus."


Photos: -- Michael Simmons rides around the Recreation East track in the pace lap of Trike in 2012. -- Michael Simmons is a 1964 graduate of Indiana State University. -- Indiana State alumni Tom Bareford, Debbie Bareford, Michael Simmons and President Dan Bradley pose in Victory Lane prior to the 2012 Trike race during Homecoming.

Media contact: Libby Roerig, director of communications and media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or