John Lechleiter, retired Eli Lilly and Co. CEO, awarded IU President's Medal for Excellence

  • Jan. 26, 2017


INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie has presented the President's Medal for Excellence to John Lechleiter, who retired at the end of 2016 as chairman, president and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company.

McRobbie presented the award Wednesday evening at the Lilly House, which was built in 1931 for Eli and Ruth Austin Lilly and was given to Indiana University as the Indianapolis residence of the president.

This medal, the highest honor an IU president can bestow, is given to recognize exceptional distinction in public service; service to Indiana University; achievement in a profession; or extraordinary merit and achievement in the arts, humanities, sciences, education or industry. The medal itself is a reproduction in silver of the symbolic jewel of office worn by Indiana University's president at ceremonial occasions.

"For more than a generation, John devoted his professional life to the growth and success of Lilly, one of the strongest anchors of Indiana's economic landscape and a company that embodies the importance of the life sciences in that economy," McRobbie said. "Throughout his distinguished career, John demonstrated visionary leadership and an unswerving commitment to improving health. He successfully increased the diversity of Lilly's scientific workforce, making diversity an underpinning of Lilly's success."

McRobbie also recognized Lechleiter and his wife, Sarah, for being inspiring philanthropists and great friends of Indiana University for many years.

"Their personal financial commitments to countless drives, pledges, funds, fellowships and programs -- as well as John's stewardship of Eli Lilly and Company's longstanding close partnership with Indiana University -- have been instrumental to the growth and continued success of the IU School of Medicine, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and the Herron School of Art and Design, just to name a few," McRobbie said.

Lechleiter joined Lilly in 1979 as a senior organic chemist and subsequently served with great distinction in a variety of management roles during his 37-year career there, including chief operating officer, president and CEO, and chairman of the board.  

Awards Lechleiter has received include an honorary IU doctorate in 2013; the August M. Watanabe Life Sciences Champion of the Year Award in 2014, for his work in supporting the development of the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute; and the 2015 International Citizen of the Year Award from the International Center of Indianapolis.

John and Sarah Lechleiter jointly received the 2016 Charles L. Whistler Award from the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee for helping to bring together the public and private sectors for civic improvement in Indianapolis.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie, left, awards the President's Medal for Excellence  to John Lechleiter

IU President Michael A. McRobbie, left, awards the President's Medal for Excellence to John Lechleiter

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Media Contacts

Richard Schneider