Gerald L. Bepko

Faces of IUPUI: Gerald L. Bepko

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Former IUPUI Chancellor Gerald "Jerry" Bepko chats with colleagues at the McKinney School of Law. Image courtesy of IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

During the 16 years that Gerald "Jerry" Bepko served as chancellor of IUPUI, the campus experienced unprecedented growth, both in the dramatic expansion of the university's physical campus and in terms of the breadth of academic programs and research opportunities. While IUPUI was expanding under Bepko's leadership — from 1986 to 2003 — major projects and improvements were transforming the city of Indianapolis.

According to Chancellor Bepko, "Along with the city, IUPUI changed its mission and its aspirations."

Chancellor Bepko's vision ultimately established IUPUI as a leading urban university, ranked among the highest in its peer group and an integral component of central Indiana's research corridor. Chancellor Bepko brought the various programs of IUPUI academically and geographically together on the downtown campus, and he oversaw the construction of almost two dozen buildings, including University Library, Inlow Hall, and the Engineering, Science and Technology Building. His emphasis on undergraduate education culminated in the creation of University College in 1998.

During Chancellor Bepko's tenure, enrollment grew by nearly 25 percent and external support for faculty activities skyrocketed from $38 million in 1986 to more than $200 million in 2002. Chancellor Bepko led the first six years of the seven-year Campaign for IUPUI, which generated more than one billion dollars before its conclusion in 2004, the first fundraising campaign in Indiana to do so.

Following Bepko's service as chancellor, he was selected unanimously by the IU Board of Trustees to serve as interim president of Indiana University from January 1, 2003, to August 31, 2003. Bepko served in this role after the resignation of Myles Brand, who became NCAA president and prior to the appointment of Adam Herbert as the 17th president of the university.

Former IUPUI Chancellor Gerald Bepko appearing on CBS Sports during the Pan American Games in 1987.
Former IUPUI Chancellor Gerald Bepko speaks to a crowd during the ceremonial transfer of books to the new University Library.
Former IUPUI Chancellor Gerald Bepko with former IU President Myles Brand and Billie Lou and Richard Wood at . the dedication of Wood Fountain.

From top: Chancellor Bepko appears on CBS Sports during the 1987 Pan American Games hosted by Indianapolis and IUPUI; Chancellor Bepko speaks to the crowd at the ceremonial transfer of books from Taylor Hall to University Library in 1993; (From left) Richard D. and Billie Lou Wood, former IU President Myles Brand, and Chancellor Bepko at the dedication of Wood Fountain in 1995. Images courtesy of IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

The campus community still feels Chancellor Bepko's positive impact. The IUPUI Bepko Scholars and Fellows Program provides a four-year scholarship for students who demonstrate integrity, leadership, and a commitment to service, and the Bepko Learning Center encourages students to play a key role in the academic development of their peers by applying collaborative learning techniques and facilitating a group experience.

Numerous university awards are named his honor, including the IUPUI Bepko Staff Council Spirit Award, the Jean C. and Gerald L. Bepko Lifelong Learner Award, the Gerald L. Bepko Outstanding Administrator Award, and the Gerald L. Bepko IUPUI Community Medallion Award.

Chancellor Bepko joined the faculty at the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1972 and became a full professor in 1975. In 1979, he was named Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and became dean of the Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1981.

Among his many accolades, Chancellor Bepko has received honorary degrees from Indiana University, Purdue University, and the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law. In 2015 he received the University Medal from IU President Michael A. McRobbie, the highest award bestowed by the university, for his extraordinary contributions and exceptional achievements.