Three liberal arts alumni recognized at the IUPUI Alumni Leaders Dinner

The IU School of Liberal Arts annual alumni awards were presented on campus last week during the 2023 IUPUI Alumni Leaders Dinner. Tory Schendel-Vyvoda, David Girton, and Etta Ward have distinguished themselves professionally and have exhibited exceptional service to the School, IUPUI, IU, and our local community. The Indiana University Alumni Association (IUAA) shared appreciation for the alumni and volunteer leaders for their gifts of time, talent, and treasure to the IUPUI campus and its alumni programs.

Career Achievement Award

Given for outstanding accomplishments in their professions and in service to the school, IUPUI, and the Indianapolis community, Tory Schendel-Vyvoda, was honored with the IU School of Liberal Arts Career Achievement Award.

Tory has built an impressive career as a cultural heritage professional who has distinguished herself as a curator, author, and lecturer. Tory completed her BA with distinction in German and an Individualized Major that combined Art History and Museum Studies, while minoring in Classical Studies and Global & International Studies in 2014. She went on and received her M.A. in Museum Studies from John Hopkins University and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at the Institute of Doctoral Studies in Visual Art. Tory Schendel-Vyvoda currently serves as the curator for the Evansville African American Museum where she has amplified the voices of the local Black community be reevaluating how the museum plans and executes exhibitions, working with descendant community to rebuild local Black pride, and she has cultivated a donor base to fund the mission of the museum.

Prior to the Evansville African American Museum, Tory had a four-year appointment as the Virginia G. Schroeder Curator of Art at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History, & Science where she created an international internship program, conducted original research, and facilitated the creation of the institution’s policies and procedures for the care of the museum’s collection based on best practices and accepted professional standards.

Last year, Tory realized a long-term dream of hers to teach at Harlaxton College in Grantham, England as an appointed visiting faculty member where she taught art history and museum studies, as well as assisted with the Harlaxton Field School, which was created in April 2022 and had its first archeological excavation on the grounds of its overseas study abroad center, which is housed in an exquisite, 19th-century Victorian manor located in the countryside of Lincolnshire, England near the town of Grantham.

Tory is also an adjunct instructor in health equity for the University of Evansville and is also an Art Collection Research at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, where she researches and documents the John M. Lawrence Medieval Manuscript Collection and the Michael and Patricia Aakuhs Cultural Heritage Collection. Tory was featured in two PBS documentaries for her research on Evansville’s Black History and is Smithsonian certified for completing the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Ethical Interpretation Workshop.

In addition to her research as a curator, Tory has independently published seven peer-reviewed articles on topics of community curation, photogrammetry, and art history. Her research has been presented nationally and internationally. This past summer, Tory studied in the United Kingdom through the Open Palace Programme Fellowship in Cultural Heritage to further her research endeavors.

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the School of Liberal Arts’ highest honor. Etta Ward is recognized this year as an alumnus who has displayed an enduring excellence in her field while continuing extraordinary service to Indiana University and IUPUI.

Etta has a remarkable skill set and a caring nature that nurtures the people she interacts with and encourages them to become the best person they can be. Etta was instrumental in rebuilding a strong and thriving Liberal Arts alumni board that has built a core relationship between the board and the school. For most of you that know Etta from her work on campus, you know that Etta has built an impressive body of work around effective mentorship – especially for underrepresented and minoritized populations. She promotes competency-based and culturally aware mentoring strategies that bolster inclusive mentoring cultures and views all of this work as her professional calling. She values opportunities to pay it forward by sharing her insights and passion with diverse audiences from all career stages, disciplines, and professions. She has developed a series of programs that help foster welcoming and inclusive environments. Etta serves as a DEI strategist and an expert in mentorship. She embodies hard work, perseverance, and excellence.

Etta received her Associate of Arts in Arts and Humanities in 1992, her Bachelor of Arts in English in 1995, and her Master of Arts in Philanthropic Studies in 20008.

The IU School of Liberal Arts honors and recognizes Etta Ward with the Liberal Arts Distinguished Alumni Award because of Etta’s lifelong dedication to service, her commitment, loyalty, and passion for the IU School of Liberal Arts in Indianapolis and IU’s alumni community.

When her term as board president ended, Etta was elected to the IU Alumni Association Executive Council, where she plays a pivotal role in diversity, equity, and inclusion and strategic approach to alumni engagement.

Alumni Leadership Award

The IU School of Liberal Arts gave a special Alumni Leadership Award this year to honor and recognize David Girton for his generosity of his time, talent, and treasure to the community, exampled by the creation of The Indiana Project, a program that prepares minority students in colleges and universities across Indiana for employment opportunities in the financial and securities industry.

David received his B.A. in Economics in 2007 from the IU School of Liberal Arts. David possesses over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, where he specializes in retail brokerage, municipal finance, and institutional trading. Throughout his career, David has diversified his skillsets and actively co-managed several municipal transactions including water, sewer, educational facilities, airports, and stadiums. In 2010, David founded the Liger Financial & Trustee Education conference that brings together trustees, plan sponsors, and money managers from all over the United States to share knowledge, network, and collaborate with one another.

David has served on several corporate and civic boards. He currently serves on the Washington Alliance Capital Board of Directors and the Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS) Review Committee. David previously served two consecutive terms on the Indianapolis Public School Board. David generously gives of his time, talent, and treasure to the community. He has a charismatic appeal, authenticity, and a drive to serve others.

David has been a well spring source of inspiration and invaluable business guidance to many in his industry. David astutely combines perseverance with resilience with his authentic drive to serve others. Those attributes combined with his passion to leave a powerful legacy are the ingredients and recipe that has powered the launch and rapid success of The Indiana Project. Through vast amount of grit, patience, and ingenuity, David marshalled the resources necessary to create The Indiana Project, which is a program that prepares minority students in many of the colleges and universities across Indiana for the vast economic opportunities in the securities industry. Through David’s tenacity and vision, countless numbers of Indiana youth will have the opportunity to forge a path in the investment management industry and impact the world of finance, as David continues to do. Through The Indiana Project, minority students are exposed to various roles and careers in securities and gain the skills and competencies necessary to be competitive in the financial industry. There’s no cost for the students or the colleges and universities that participate in The Indiana Project. The inaugural class will begin in November 2023 with 25 students. There were 20 IUPUI students who participated in The Indiana Project in February. David loves to share his knowledge of the industry to help others get involved and have the knowledge and skills to be successful. David wants to increase the number of minorities that are successful in the financial industry and created The Indiana Project to help realize his vision. His vision has become a reality and has gotten bigger than he could have imagined.

Tory Schendel-Vyvoda, Etta Ward, and David Girton are all shining examples of the power of a liberal arts education. The IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, the IU Alumni Association, and the entire IUPUI community congratulates them on their achievements and commitments to making the world a better place to live, work, and be in.