The University of Indianapolis Honors College has received a $1 million donation from alumni and board of trustee members Ron and Laura Strain.
To honor the Strains, the Honors College has been renamed the Ron and Laura Strain Honors College. The Strains met at UIndy, formerly called Indiana Central, when they were students.
The Strains feel that the university has continued to keep its close relationship with all of the students who attended, even after all of the years that have passed since they were in college.
“Even though the university has grown in size and certainly in infrastructure, it still has that feeling of very much one-on-one with your professors,” Laura said. “That was very important to us at the time we were here…. Fortunately, this school has been able to maintain that very personal relationship with your professors. That says something really.”
Executive Director of the Honors College and Associate Professor of French Amy Allen Sekhar said the endowment money will be distributed to the Honors College over time and will change the way the college operates and help the budget.
“The idea is that they wanted it to enhance the types of programs that we offer,” Sekhar said. “President Manuel mentioned in his email to the campus that it was to help build an affiliated faculty.”
With the affiliated faculty containing current staff, they will be equipped to teach courses offered through the Honors College. The Strains contacted President Robert Manuel to get an idea of where they should donate.
“We sat with Rob to explore with him, and he came up with the Honors College specifically [because] he felt it would be a greater impact,” Ron said.
The Strains felt that the Honors College would flourish from the donation because of all it has to offer to the students who are in it.
“I think we feel [that] the Honors College—with its interdisciplinary approach [and] the ability to be pursuing your career.… [It] prepares students for the world that you are going to be in,” Laura said.
Education was important to the Strains as they made their way through the university, and they feel that the Honors College portrays that as well.
“You need to be prepared with a broad spectrum of education and knowledge and experience in order to be able to make the transition to what may be the way the world is going,” Laura said.
Ron Strain had come to the university to study pre-med but changed his major to business. Ron’s father had worked in business, and because his father was paying for his tuition, Ron thought that business would be a good direction to go in. Both Ron and Laura agree that it was the right move.
Ron’s career in business spanned to North and South America. He received an offer from Radio Corporation of America [RCA] in Indianapolis and soon became the plant controller. He also expanded his career to Brazil. After working for RCA, Ron worked for Miller Brewing Company as vice president of finances and treasurer. Laura also received a job at the U.S. Bank as senior vice president for marketing and public relations. Both are retired now.
The Strains have worked on 15 different boards and have been together for 58 years. The couple now resides in Naples, Fla., and they have two children.
“We have always had common goals, we have always worked as a team and we have never been in competition with each other,” Laura said.
More information on the Strains is available through the UIndy Honors College website.