Indiana Daily Student

The face behind 'The Hall'

<p>Cindy Simon Skjodt is the namesake of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall after donating $40 million toward renovations in 2013. She graduated from IU in 1980.</p>

Cindy Simon Skjodt is the namesake of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall after donating $40 million toward renovations in 2013. She graduated from IU in 1980.

Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall:

The famous college basketball stadium that's highlighted by the five men’s basketball banners that hang on its north side. It is the same hall that saw thousands storm the court in 2011 after Christian Watford knocked in a game-winning three against Kentucky. And now it's the arena that holds the IU women’s basketball 2018 WNIT banner. 

Assembly Hall was built in 1971 and has created memories for millions of IU fans, including philanthropist and IU alumna Cindy Simon Skjodt. 

“It just made me feel more a part of a good thing,” Cindy Skjodt said.

IU Athletics had discussions for years in regards to improving the stadium, with the idea of tearing it down and building a new one being an option.

IU Athletics Director Fred Glass talks about the newly rennovated Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The entire rennovation was paid for with donations from various donors such as Cindy Simon Skjodt, Mark Cuban and Ken Nunn Rebecca Mehling and Rebecca Mehling

When Cindy Skjodt heard of this, she talked to her husband Paul Skjodt about trying to help. That is when they decided to donate $40 million toward stadium renovations. 

“Very proud that we could help in transforming an iconic stadium,” Cindy Skjodt said. “I’m just proud of how they accomplished it.”

Her father, Melvin Simon, was one of the founders of Simon Property Group. He also helped contribute to the Simon family’s purchase of the Indiana Pacers in 1983. 

Simon and Cindy Skjodt frequently attended IU sporting events together, helping develop her passion for sports.

In 1968, the family took a trip to California for the only appearance IU football has ever had in the Rose Bowl. The family did not have enough tickets to bring Cindy Skjodt into the game, so she went to Disneyland instead and was not happy about missing the game. 

“Sports has always been an important part of my life,” Cindy Skjodt said. “Although I’m not an athlete, I am a great spectator.”

Cindy Skjodt graduated from Carmel High School in 1976, and faced tragedy soon after. While she was a freshman at IU, her mother Bess Meshulam died of cancer.

As Cindy Skjodt was grieving, IU and her sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi were key to keeping her in high hopes.

“It was good to have people around me that cared,” Cindy Skjodt said. “Because of the school and my sorority, it helped.”

Melvin Simon also died to cancer in Sept. 2009. Cindy Skjodt said both her parents influenced her to to be generous, and that led to her making the donation to IU less than five years later.

“Being able to do that is one of my dreams," Cindy Skjodt said. "My father has done so much around the world that it inspired me to be the person I am today.”

Cindy Skjodt is now a part of numerous boards and foundations at IU, including the Women’s Philanthropy at Indiana University. 

In 2013, Cindy Skjodt was named a Woman of Influence by the Indianapolis Business Journal. She said she hopes to make an influence on the women at IU – especially right now.

“Today, women have to stand together and send a message,” Cindy Skjodt said. “It’s the 21st century, let’s act like it is.”

Cindy Skjodt is also an animal rights activist and owns three dogs – Jackson, Maddie and Oscar.

She enjoys reading and traveling. Cindy Skjodt has recently traveled to Italy, Croatia and Montenegro, and purchased a house in California.

Her youngest son Erik graduated from IU in 2016 and currently lives in Los Angeles. Her daughter Samantha Bess Skjodt and son Ian Skjodt live in Chicago. 

Despite all the traveling, Cindy Skjodt’s favorite place remains home. 

“I just try to stay as much to myself as I can because people judge you no matter what,” Cindy Skjodt said. “I just feel like being home is the safest and warmest place to be.”

She also has a niece, Carly Skjodt, who plays volleyball at University of Michigan.

“She is a great player, and she’s one of the nicest people you can meet,” Cindy Skjodt said. “It’s hard to go to Michigan and IU games, but I cheer for her.”

Carly Skjodt is an outlier in the Skjodt family. Cindy Skjodt has had a total of 17 family members – whether they be from the Skjodt side or the Simon side – attend or graduate from IU.

This just made it all the more obvious for her to have the name be Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, rather than Cindy Simon Skjodt.

“I would never name it after just myself,” she said. “There’s Simons involved, and there’s Skjodts involved.”

Moving forward, Cindy Skjodt hopes to continue giving back to IU, including thoughts of setting up a scholarship in her children’s honor.  

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