The University of Indianapolis held its annual Leadership Banquet in UIndy Hall A on April 23 to recognize outstanding student leadership across campus. Student organizations, the Admissions Office and the Professional Edge Center presented the Mindy Owens Outstanding Junior Awards and Ron Strain Outstanding Senior Awards at the end of the banquet, according to Dean of Students and Vice President for Student and Campus Affairs Kory Vitangeli.
“I think it is important for us to say that we recognize student leadership,” Vitangeli said. “In our minds, it’s just as important as getting your degree. Involvement in co-curricular opportunities is vital and important in a student’s career so it’s important to have a culminating event similar to what we do with commencement and other departmental banquets that recognize all the hard work that students put into the student organizations across campus and really just being leaders across campus.”
The Outstanding Junior Award, which UIndy began presenting last year, is named after former UIndy student Mindy Owens, who was very involved on campus with faculty and students, according to Vitangeli.
“For many years we only had an Outstanding Senior Award. And we decided last year, for the first time, that we had significant student leaders that were not only seniors, but juniors as well,” Vitangeli said. “At the same time that we were implementing the junior award, we had decided that we wanted to name the outstanding senior award after one of our trustees who had passed away. His name was Ron Strain, and he really was a phenomenal leader throughout his life.… Ron made a significant impact on the campus and really just in his career as a business person, so we decided to name the outstanding senior award after him. When we named the junior [award], we decided to name it after Mindy, who was a student here when she lost her battle with cancer…. We thought that it would be pretty powerful to name an award after a student who left such a legacy. She was extremely involved as a student leader on campus and as a music student in the music program.”
UIndy presents these awards to recognize those who play an important role in student organizations and student life, according to Vitangeli.
Music Department Chair Brenda Clark said that students who influence their peers and faculty to do better, as Mindy Owens did, need to be recognized.
“Mindy was known across campus in a variety of ways,” Clark said. “She was in the Honors Program, so she knew faculty over there. She also had been in some musicals and things like that, so she was familiar with the people in the Theatre Department. She was pretty active on campus. She was a very good student. She was a big impact on not just her fellow students, but faculty as well.… I think it [naming awards after influential people] adds to their memory. It’s a way to bring attention to their work ethic and their influence. I think we all need those role models in our lives to give us something to aspire to. If you talk to most of the faculty on campus, they probably would all tell you that there are one or two really impactful people in their lives that have caused them to go in the direction they have gone.”
While other departmental awards acknowledge academic success, these awards are solely for leadership qualities, according to Vitangeli.
“It’s about being a well-rounded leader, not only doing well academically but being involved in various facets of campus life and serving in leadership roles around campus,” Vitangeli said. “The banquet is open to all of the students involved in student leadership roles across campus. All the nominees for the awards get invited.”
Vitangeli said students were nominated by peers and faculty. The criteria for the awards are as follows:
Vitangeli said that the Mindy Owens Outstanding Junior Award is for junior students who have been exemplary students this past year with regard to academic engagement, campus involvement and/or superior representation of UIndy.
The Ron Strain Outstanding Senior Award is for individuals who have been exemplary students throughout their career at the university with regard to academic engagement, campus involvement and/or superior representation of what it means to be a Greyhound, according to Vitangeli.