Last week, my colleagues Angela White, Dan Schipp and I attended a dinner in Indianapolis to recognize a true leader in the field of philanthropy. Dr. Eugene Tempel will retire early in 2015 as Founding Dean of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The evening was a very special one with many attendees and several speakers. The announcement of an endowed Deanship for the School in Gene’s name was both surprising and highly appropriate.
It was interesting to me that among the best of the speakers was Gene and Mary’s son Jonathan – who provided a more intimate, personal perspective on Gene as a father and family man. This in turn provided wonderful insights into the characteristics that have made him so invaluable to our field. Jonathan’s comments also provided some the best laughter of the evening and likely a bit of mild embarrassment for Gene!
Gene’s work in philanthropy over several decades has been well described by others. What struck me as being very interesting was the degree to which the way Gene has been a husband and father has been reflected in his work in philanthropy. Lots of good realistic common sense combined with a respect for and appreciation of the value of hard work were key tenets of Gene’s upbringing and the way he has been as a father. And we know those do wonders when employed in our work in the field of philanthropy. Determination and persistence were also noted as being important to Gene. And we know that those have also been hallmarks of Gene’s work at first the Center on Philanthropy and now the Lilly School.
It was a terrific evening and an honor much deserved for a long serving and much respected colleague.