IU Alumni Association to honor volunteers for service

  • May 26, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- During its annual Alumni Leaders Conference June 9 to 11, the Indiana University Alumni Association will honor seven individuals for their service and volunteer leadership to the association.

Six alumni volunteers will receive the IUAA President’s Award, established in 1993 to pay tribute to volunteers' service to the organization. It is the highest award given by the IU Alumni Association to a volunteer leader.

The IUAA also will present the Gertrude Rich Award, honoring the memory of the wife of Claude Rich, director of the IUAA from 1948 to 1968. It is given to a spouse or partner of an alumni leader who has exemplified the spirit of Mrs. Rich in making outstanding contributions to the IUAA.

The 2016 recipients of the IUAA President’s Award are:

  • Bette G. Davenport, BGS’92
  • Sam Gaskins, BA’67
  • John Laskowski, BS’75
  • Lorelle Swader, BA’84, MLS’86
  • Martin Vargas, BS’94
  • Nikki White, BS’98

The 2016 recipient of the Gertrude Rich Award is Nancy Kalina.

Bette G. Davenport

Bette Davenport, of Richmond, Ind., retired as IU East alumni director in 2004 after 19 years at the helm and 27 years on campus in total, then took on a volunteer role with the IUAA. As director, she helped guide the organization of the IU East Alumni Association, which was chartered in 1989. She was also involved in alumni relations, development, ceremonies, special events and local alumni chapters.

Upon her retirement, Davenport was honored with a School of Continuing Studies Distinguished Alumni Award and an IU East scholarship in her name. She received the IU East Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006. In retirement, she served as a liaison between the IUAA and the Whitewater Valley and Henry County chapters.

Sam Gaskins

For 25 years, Sam Gaskins has served IU and the IUAA in central North Carolina in various capacities. He was president of the Central Carolina Chapter for eight years, served on the IUAA Executive Council, was treasurer of his chapter and provided veteran leadership in alumni programming. Gaskins and his wife, Lynda, of Sanford, N.C., funded a student scholarship in 2011.

He is a recipient of the Central Carolina Chapter’s Distinguished Service Award. In addition, he serves on the Sanford City Council and is mayor pro tem. One letter of support for Gaskins said he is “the prototype for an IU alumnus in a foreign land, i.e., home to Duke, UNC and NCSU. His history of commitment is legendary.”

John Laskowski

John Laskowski served the IUAA as vice president of marketing and membership for nine years, departing in 2004 to work for Marsh Affinity Group Service, now known as Mercer. He was IU’s “super sub” on coach Bob Knight’s early Hoosier teams and was a senior on the 1974-75 squad that was unbeaten in the regular season. Laskowski, of Bloomington, Ind., has been an ambassador of IU, speaking at chapter and university events across the country.

“He is a servant’s leader with a servant’s heart,” said one letter of recommendation. “John personifies all that is right with staying intentionally connected to an institution that helped to shape his life’s path.”

Lorelle Swader

When her alumni groups need volunteers, Lorelle Swader of Harvey, Ill., steps up. She has represented the School of Library and Information Science’s position on the IUAA Executive Council twice and has served on the school's alumni board since 2003. She is a Neal-Marshall Chapter member and has served on the IUAA Board of Managers since 2013.

Swader has volunteered for numerous committees and served on the IUAA Membership Experience Task Force as volunteer chair for the past year. She has faithfully attended meetings of all these groups, even while caring for ill family members. “Lorelle is passionate about her alma mater and is one volunteer who we can always turn to for enthusiastic support and thoughtful feedback,” according to one of her nominators.

Martin Vargas

Since earning his IU degree in business, Martin Vargas of Knoxville, Tenn., has been a driving force to raise the profile of Latino students. During his affiliation with the IU Latino Alumni Association since 2010, Vargas has led improvements in the group’s communication by launching an engaging web and social media presence.

Under his leadership, the Latino Alumni Association now enjoys a more heightened signature event -- the Distinguished Latino Alumni Award Ceremony and Reunion Weekend. Even beyond his leadership in the Latino Alumni Association, the group created six operating committees and has launched the 10x Campaign to assist future Latino students. His mantra is “Be the change you want to see.”

Nikki White

Fourth-generation IU graduate Nikki White, of Arlington, Va., represents and promotes her alma mater in the Washington, D.C., area by her ubiquitous presence and organizing skills out in the field. As a chapter board member from 2000 to 2011, she helped organize events to see IU sports events, social and networking evenings, and philanthropic and cultural events. She has organized college fairs and other recruiting events for new students from the D.C. metro area.

White has been president of her chapter and a member of the IUAA Executive Council since 2009. In addition, she has served as president of the alumni board for the School of Public and Environmental Affairs since 2008. “She is the best kind of ambassador, one who flies the flag, digs in, gets involved and leads by example,” one of her nominating letters said.

Nancy Kalina

The 2016 recipient of the Gertrude Rich Award is Nancy Kalina, of Bloomington, Ind. A member of the GLBT Alumni Association, Kalina was a stalwart supporter of the group’s membership initiatives, outreach events and scholarship fundraising when her partner, Kim Davis, was president. Membership in the GLBTAA increased significantly under Davis’ leadership and Kalina’s perseverance as well. She continued participation when Davis became an at-large member of the IUAA Executive Council.

The IU Alumni Association is dedicated to serving the university and its diverse alumni, students and friends. As one of the nation's largest alumni organizations, serving more than 660,000 graduates worldwide, the IUAA provides many programs and services to its members, nonmember alumni and the university. For more information, call 800-824-3044.

Bette G. Davenport

Bette G. Davenport

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John Laskowski

John Laskowski

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Lorelle Swader

Lorelle Swader

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Martin Vargas

Martin Vargas

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Media Contacts

Rebecca Keith