Retrospective: Richard Lugar’s lasting UIndy legacy

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Nearly 46 years ago, The Reflector published a front-page article detailing an interview with U.S. Senator for Indiana Richard G. Lugar (1932-2019) two months into his inaugural year in Congress, according to the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Born and raised in Indianapolis, Lugar was on the Indiana Central College, which later became the University of Indianapolis, Board of Trustees for 32 years before retiring in 2002, according to a 2012 press release from UIndy. Lugar served as a Distinguished UIndy Board Trustee and a Distinguished Professor in UIndy’s Department of History & Political Science, according to a 2021 press release from UIndy. 

Lugar began the Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders at UIndy in 1977; it is a day-long, nonpartisan event for high school juniors to gain global literacy and perspective, according to the 2012 press release. UIndy’s website states that, “The Richard G. Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders at the University of Indianapolis is hosted each year to celebrate the legacy of the late Senator Lugar.” The 2021 press release stated that more than 20,000 Indiana
students have attended the symposium. The latest Lugar Symposium was on Dec. 3 of last year. 

In 2008, the Richard G. Lugar Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders was created, according to a 2007 issue of The Reflector. The founding of the Center permanently established the Lugar Symposium.

In 2012, the senator and UIndy announced a partnership to create the Richard G. Lugar Academy—a nonpartisan program that promoted opportunities for leadership development and policy education through a semester-long internship in Washington D.C., according to the Fall 2013 edition of the Inside UIndy magazine. The program abruptly ended in 2015, partially due to Lugar’s declining health, according to UIndy Political Science alumnus Tyler Knierim. 

The UIndy Office of Admissions also offers the Richard G. Lugar Academic Recognition Award to incoming freshmen who have “strong college preparatory curriculum,” according to UIndy’s website. The annual merit scholarship amount for 2022-2023 incoming freshmen is $17,000. 

Before his career in federal politics, Lugar served as mayor of Indianapolis from 1968 to 1976, according
to Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. After serving as mayor, Lugar taught political science at UIndy in 1976 while running for the U.S. Senate. He served from 1977 to 2013 in the U.S. Senate—the longest congressional term in Indiana’s history, per the Lugar Center. Lugar focused on issues such as bipartisanship, eradicating weapons of mass destruction and cooperative international relations, according to the Lugar Center and the Indiana University
Bloomington, respectively. NPR reported that Lugar passed away in April 2019 at age 87 from complications with a neurological disorder.

 In the words of Lugar himself: “I am convinced that the majority of American people do understand that we have a moral responsibility to foster the concepts of opportunity, free enterprise, the rule of law and democracy. They understand that these values are the hope of the world.”

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