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Philanthropist Edward Hutton dies

POSTED AT 12:29 AM ON Mar. 5, 2009  (UPDATED AT 10:52 AM ON Mar. 5, 2009)

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Though sophomore Kevin O’Brien met Edward Hutton only once, he knew how much Hutton cared about students, especially those who received one of his Edward L. Hutton International Experiences Program grants.

“I heard he literally reads every single letter from every single student who went overseas because he really cares that much,” O’Brien said.

Hutton, who died Tuesday at age 89, was known on campus as a philanthropist because of his donations to the Edward L. Hutton Honors College.

“Anyone who spent time with him recognized that Ed Hutton had a profound love for students,” Matthew Auer, dean of the Honors College, said in an e-mail.

Hutton was one of the University’s prominent donors, and gave, among other gifts, $9 million to create the International Experiences Program grant in 2003, which assisted students studying abroad. IU later named the college after him in 2005.

IU Provost and Executive Vice President Karen Hanson said Hutton’s involvement in the construction of the new Edward L. Hutton Honors College building exemplified the type of person he was.

“He was really involved in the whole process, from having the idea to donating the funds to looking at finishings,” Hanson said. “He visited the building during the construction this summer and got to know the workmen, and they did begin to feel that they had a connection to him and his ideals. He had that kind of effect on everybody.”

Hutton also believed in the power of taking a chance on something, Hanson said.

“He took the civil service exam on the recommendation of a business professor,” Hanson said. “He said, ‘But I’m not interested in civil service.’ And the professor said, ‘Now, you don’t know that.’ And he ended up getting a letter from the White House to go to Germany to help with reconstruction because of it. He would impress upon students the importance of these turns and contingent events.”

IU President Michael McRobbie said in a statement that Hutton believed in the importance of international experiences for students, and his “extraordinarily generous” gifts to the University were “far-sighted and visionary.”

“I knew him well personally, and he genuinely exemplified the best of Hoosier values – modest and unassuming, but hard-working and possessed of a penetrating intelligence, with a broad and tolerant understanding of the world,” McRobbie said. “He was one of IU’s greatest internationalists.”

Hutton was also a “great storyteller” who spoke in a “humorous, endearing way,” University Chancellor Ken Gros Louis said.

“He was a warm human being who enjoyed conversing and having conversations,” Gros Louis said. “It’s a loss.”

Hutton’s international perspective came from the time he spent in Germany, Gros Louis said.

He said Hutton called that experience “life-changing,” and, as a result, Hutton donated the money to create the International Experiences grants.

“I hope 30, 50, 80 years from now students will associate his name with going abroad,” Gros Louis said. “Because of that, he will be remembered forever.”

In his later life, Hutton served as CEO of Cincinnati-based Chemed Corporation from 1970 to 2001, and until 2008 he was the chairman of the board of directors of the health care company Omnicare.

Whether he was “turning around companies” or “helping Germany get back on its feet after World War II,” Auer said Hutton was known as confident and focused.

“Ed Hutton had an incredible can-do approach to life and learning,” Auer said. “If we can channel just a fraction of his energy, wisdom and commitment to academic excellence and public service in the lessons we teach at the Hutton Honors College, we will be successful.”

But his lasting impression will be his care for students, O’Brien said.

“Even people a generation from now will know there was a great person at IU who cared about students named Edward Hutton,” O’Brien said.

 

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