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IU awards University Medal to Gerald Bepko, President’s Medal to Fedwa Malti-Douglas, David Wilkes



INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie presented medals of highest honor to three distinguished Indiana University faculty members during the ninth annual Academic Excellence Dinner this month.

Gerald Bepko, IUPUI chancellor emeritus, IU Trustee Professor and professor of law, received the University Medal, the highest award bestowed by Indiana University.

The award, the only IU medal that requires approval from the IU Board of Trustees, honors individuals for singular or noteworthy contributions, including service to the university and achievement in arts, letters, science or law. The 18-karat gold medal bears the Indiana University seal.

President McRobbie presented the President’s Medal for Excellence to two faculty members:

  • Fedwa Malti-Douglas, College Professor and the Martha C. Kraft Emerita Professor of Humanities in the Indiana University Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences
  • Dr. David Wilkes, associate vice president for research and executive associate dean for research affairs at the Indiana University School of Medicine

The President’s Medal for Excellence is the highest award that an IU president can bestow and recognizes, among other criteria, distinction in public service; service to IU; and extraordinary merit and achievement in the arts, humanities, sciences, education or industry. The medal itself is a reproduction in silver of the symbolic jewel of office worn by IU’s president at ceremonial occasions.

The 2015 Academic Excellence Dinner took place Oct. 13 at the Indiana History Center in Indianapolis.

During his introduction of the medal presentations, President McRobbie said that the three medal winners have distinguished themselves in their respective fields, and their accomplishments have contributed in major ways to the university’s continued strength and excellence.

“Fedwa Malti-Douglas was recently honored by President Obama for the enormous contributions she has made in the humanities,” McRobbie said. “David Wilkes has made major contributions to health care and medical education and research in Indiana and beyond. And Gerald Bepko has given extraordinary service to Indiana University both as a faculty member and an administrator on the IUPUI campus and as interim president to the entire university during an important time of transition.”

About Gerald Bepko

Gerald Bepko joined the Indiana University faculty at the School of Law-Indianapolis, now known as the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law, in 1972. He became a full professor in 1975 and dean of the law school in 1981.

In 1986, he was appointed chancellor of IUPUI. During 17 years as chancellor, Bepko oversaw a period of enormous growth for the IUPUI campus:

  • The Purdue School of Science, the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology, and the Herron School of Art moved to the Michigan Street campus.
  • Enrollment on the IUPUI campus grew by nearly 25 percent.
  • External support for faculty activities grew from $38 million in 1986 to more than $200 million in 2002.
  • Twenty-four new graduate-level programs in fields such as biomedical engineering, bioinformatics and public health were created, with minimal new state funding.

Bepko served as interim Indiana University president from January to August 2003, as the university transitioned from the leadership of President Myles Brand to that of President Herbert Adams. He returned to the classroom in 2003 and teaches commercial law as well as leadership and law in the McKinney School of Law, on the IUPUI campus.

“Jerry has received many, many honors during his distinguished career, including two Sagamore of the Wabash awards from governors of Indiana,” McRobbie said. “The McKinney School of Law created the Gerald L. Bepko Professorship in Law to honor his remarkable achievements, and the IUPUI campus created the Bepko Scholars and Fellows Program, the most prestigious scholarship on the IUPUI campus. Tonight, I am delighted to add to Jerry’s long list of accolades.”

About Fedwa Malti-Douglas

Fedwa Malti-Douglas retired from the IU Bloomington faculty in December 2012, having taught gender studies and cultural legal studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maurer School of Law.

In her retirement, Malti-Douglas has focused increasingly on her creative writing. Her post-academe output so far includes a chapbook of visual poetry, the beginnings of a third novel and a nearly complete draft of her memoirs.

Her extensive body of work has contributed deeply to a greater understanding of central questions of gender equality, disability, cultural identity, religion and more. A native of Lebanon, Malti-Douglas is the author of nine major scholarly books, including “The Starr Report Disrobed,” for which she was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Malti-Douglas is also a fellow of the American Philosophical Society, the oldest learned society in the country, Elected to the society in 2004, she is one of only five living APS fellows associated with IU.

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama named Malti-Douglas one of 10 recipients of the National Humanities Medal for 2014 in recognition of her scholarly work, notably her contributions to the study of Arabic literature and the Middle East.

About David Wilkes

David Wilkes recently became dean of the University of Virginia School of Medicine after more than two decades as an accomplished physician-researcher and administrative leader at Indiana University.

Wilkes is a pulmonologist whose research focuses on the immunobiology of lung transplants. He is an expert on sarcoidosis — a chronic inflammatory disease that affects lungs — and interstitial lung diseases. Patients and colleagues from around the country seek him out for his diagnostic specialties.

He is the co-author of more than 100 research papers; holds six U.S. patents; and co-founded the Indianapolis startup company ImmuneWorks, which researches and develops treatments for immune-mediated lung diseases that include lung-transplant rejection and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Wilkes joined the IU School of Medicine faculty in 1992 to help expand the school’s growing organ-transplant program.

In 2009, he succeeded Ora Pescovitz as executive associate dean of research affairs in the School of Medicine and was appointed as the August M. Watanabe Professor of Medical Research.

As the executive associate dean for research affairs, Dr. Wilkes helped lead a number of major initiatives designed to better position the School of Medicine for advancing team-based science and to increase research funding.

In 2013, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation selected Wilkes as director of the foundation’s Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, a program that encourages diversity in medical and dental school faculties — and a program of which Wilkes is an alumnus.