IU Trustee MaryEllen Bishop began her IU journey as an undergraduate in 1975. It isn't over yet.
Bishop was elected for the fourth time to the IU Board of Trustees on June 28. Bishop ran against Brian Davidson, a 2004 Kelley School of Business graduate, and won with 59% of votes, according to an IU press release. Of the nine members of the Board of Trustees, three are elected by alumni while the rest are appointed by the governor.
As a trustee, Bishop has made decisions on leadership, changes to college enrollment, controlling the cost of college and more.
"It is like drinking from a fire hose when you first go on that board," Bishop said.
Bishop said she never imagined going to college anywhere but IU. After completing her bachelor's degree at the Kelley School of Business in 1979, Bishop went on to IU-Purdue University Indianapolis McKinney School of Law. Bishop took night classes while working during the day to afford her schooling.
Her daughter's decision to attend IU influenced her desire to become an active alumni, Bishop said. After serving as a national chair for the IU Alumni Association, she decided to run for a trustee position. She lost her first race in 2009 to Philip Eskew.
Bishop said close friends encouraged her to figure out the process and try again. After her win, she is now beginning her 10th year as a trustee.
"She is someone who is entrusted with helping make some of the big decisions that influence IU moving forward," IU spokesperson Chuck Carney said.
IU Alumni Association chief executive officer and former trustee JT. Forbes said the Board of Trustees' role is to guide and steer, not direct, the university.
"They are not a committee that is set up to tell the university how to run," Forbes said. "They have to think about how the university will run in 20-30 years."
Forbes said Bishop has a distinctive ability to empathize and understand the experiences of people involved with IU because she is concerned with their well-being and welfare.
"She is a strong advocate for the mission, priorities and agenda the president has put forward," Forbes said.
Forbes said Bishop's commitment to trustee work can be seen in the academic reform and evolution that have taken place during her tenure, including the expansion of facilities like Luddy Hall and the addition of new schools like the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies,.
Bishop said the nearing IU bicentennial heightened her desire to be reelected. According to Bishop's campaign website, her reelection platform focused on her record as a trustee and knowledge of important university issues to aid in the search for IU President Michael McRobbie's replacement once his contract ends in 2021.
"As we search for IU’s next president, it is vitally important to have Trustees with strong institutional knowledge who are aware of the forces shaping higher education," Bishop wrote on her campaign website.
Bishop and the other trustees are trusted to delve deep into the issues to come to a resolution, Carney said.
"She is gonna be involved in shaping this decade and more to come," Carney said.
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