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Tobias Center Vision

The enduring mission of the Tobias Center is inspiring leadership excellence on a national scale.  Special access to the Center’s work will be furnished to Indiana citizens for the distinct purpose of enhancing leadership within the state.

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About Us » History

The Randall L. Tobias Center on Leadership Excellence at Indiana University is a source, collaborator and convener on the subject of effective leadership.

The Center’s commitment to the practical application of scholarship serves to create a distinctive learning environment. Scholars conduct innovative research as well as offer curricula and teaching strategies, while the work of renowned practitioners combines with the theoretical and scholastic work to stimulate original thought and ensure utility for the Center’s activities. Producing and owning this nature of leadership knowledge defines the Tobias Center as a principal resource in the arena of leadership information.

A $5.25 million contribution made to Indiana University for the purpose of creating the Randall L. Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence was the largest single gift ever made by the Randall L. Tobias Foundation.   Paige Tobias Button, Director of the Foundation, considers founding a leadership center bearing her father’s name an appropriate legacy as it inspires excellence in leadership education, serves to memorialize Randall Tobias’s prominence as a state and national leader and honors Indiana University for the significant role it played in Randall Tobias’s ultimate success.

Founded by this generous donation and housed in the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and headquartered on the campus of Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis, the Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence is a university-wide entity. The work across sectors includes faculty not only in the Kelley School of Business but also the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), the IU School of Education, the IU School of Medicine, and the IU School of Liberal Arts.

The Tobias Center Faculty Fellows, a core group of faculty from the Kelley School of Business, the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, the School of Education, and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, conduct research on cross-sector leadership, teach classes, conduct workshops and convene the various groups unique to the Center are responsible for the development and implementation of the Center’s innovative programming.

Importing extraordinary leadership excellence will become traditional practice for the Center on a regular and an occasional basis. The Tobias Chair will be held by a visitor to the Center who will be a noteworthy practitioner, recognized leader and/or scholar and a skilled communicator. Tobias Chair holders will serve in residence for periods of time during which they will become involved in the research and teaching efforts of the Center.

To further inspire the development of leadership excellence, each year Tobias Graduate Fellows are named. Graduate students from the Kelley School of Business, the School of Education, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and Philanthropic Studies are selected to participate in the Center’s programs and activities. Fellowships are made available to current Indiana University students demonstrating outstanding potential in these schools.

Dr. Gerald L. Bepko, Chancellor Emeritus of IUPUI, served as the Inaugural Director of the Tobias Center, offering strategic and entrepreneurial management for the Center and its developing activities. Dr. Philip L. Cochran, holder of the Thomas W. Binford Chair in Corporate Citizenship at the Kelley School of Business, became the Director of the Center July 1, 2006.  Dr. Bepko remains on the Tobias Center Executive Committee and retains the title of Inaugural Director.

A university-wide implementation team including Dr. Charles R. Bantz, Vice President for Long Range Planning, Indiana University and Chancellor; Dr. Roger Schmenner, Associate Dean, Indianapolis Programs, Kelley School of Business; Dr. Eugene R. Tempel, Executive Director, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University; Dr. Astrid Merget, Dean, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University; Dr. Khaula H. Murtadha, Executive Associate Dean for Indianapolis, School of Education, and Dr. William M. Plater, Dean of Faculties and Executive Vice Chancellor, IUPUI supported Dr. Bepko in planning and establishing the Center.

A distinguished Board of Governors composed of local and national leaders with a particular interest in the study of leadership provides oversight and long-range planning.
Leadership Laboratories are a focal point for generating new understanding of leadership strengths by observing, studying, and sharing through a variety of best learning practices. This unique laboratory environment provides significant hands-on opportunities for students and teachers of leadership excellence as well as ideal situations for practitioners to observe the subject’s study. Numerous opportunities for the application and exchange of leadership practices are provided environments, workshops, lectures and publications.

Annually, the Tobias Leadership Conference focuses on the interaction of scholar-practitioner related to cutting-edge leadership issues of interest to the business, education, government, and nonprofit sectors. Additionally, other executive workshops are provided by the Center to serve leaders from business, education, government, and nonprofits.

Mid- to high-level leaders in various sectors from throughout the Midwest are selected annually to become Hoosier Fellows in the Tobias Center. Fellows gather monthly for special programming related to the work of the Center and designed to further enhance their leadership knowledge and skills. Cross-sector networking and problem solving are important outcomes for the fellowship program.

The Tobias Center will create publications of various types ranging in length and sophistication and are likely to include newsletters, brief “Perspectives on Leadership," more complete articles for wide circulation, and scholarly papers and manuscripts. These publications will highlight the unique interdisciplinary research that will be the hallmark of the Tobias Center.

The Tobias Center was officially inaugurated on May 10th of 2004. The first full year of programs began in January, 2006.  Inaugural programs included the Hoosier Fellows Program, the annual Tobias Leadership Conference, Hazelett Lecture, and Semler Lecture.