Laura Strain donates $6 Million to Honors College

The University of Indianapolis Honors College received a $6 million commitment on Feb. 9 from Laura Strain, according to UIndy 360. In 2015, the Honors College was renamed after Strain and her husband, Ron, and has since been called the Ron and Laura Strain Honors College. Executive Director of the Honors College James Williams said the Honors College has a long history dating back to the late 1960s when it was just an honors program, but, when the program was endowed by Ron and Laura Strain in 2015, it became the Honors College. Williams said an honors college is essential to every student and university.

“We provide the students an excellent opportunity to really take their education to the next level, to be more competitive,” Williams said. “Whether that’s getting students placed into graduate programs or to get students high-paying jobs, the whole purpose is to give students a richer and deeper experience in their education that otherwise would have not been possible.”

Williams said the Honors College is important to UIndy because it gives students a chance to study topics of interest to them through their Honors Projects. These Honors Projects require in-depth research and knowledge obtained through the student’s undergraduate studies, according to UIndy’s Honors College website.

Junior chemistry and biology major AJ Garrett said the Honors College has made a big impact in her undergraduate career, allowing her to travel abroad to Istanbul, Turkey and Camino Santiago, Spain. Garrett said without the Honors College, she does not believe the things she has experienced would have been possible throughout her time at UIndy.

“It’s definitely helped me, I wouldn’t have been able to do this research project if it hadn’t been for them,” Garrett said. “So, I do a presidential scholars class and we had to interview a couple of professors around campus and see what they were interested in … They [the Honors College] have also taken me to international trips, and it’s sponsored. So like, for Spain, it was completely funded by donors, so that was all really nice. And the program has really just offered me a lot of experience that I don’t think I would [have] had if I was not in the Honors College.”

According to Williams, the Honors College does not yet know how they will be using the funds because they still have to finish their strategic plan. Throughout the planning, they will be going through the honors program and seeing what changes may need to be made in the future. The $6 million dollar donation will be dispersed in equal payments and to different areas of the Honors College, according to Dr. Williams.

“The way an endowment works is that whatever the endowment amount is, in this case $6 million, it never gets touched directly,” Williams said. “The idea is that that $6 million is allowed to continue to serve as an investment that grows and its growth indicates or dictates how much we can take out overtime to support the activities of the students in the Honors College.”

The donation was given to the Honors College right after the passing of Ron Strain, and Laura Strain said he would have wanted this for the university, according UIndy 360. Ron and Laura Strain spent their retirement traveling together across the globe, which inspired them to donate the $6 million, according to UIndy 360. 

“We are incredibly grateful to the Strains for how they have given to transform our students,” Williams said.

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