IU Legends That Don't Throw Chairs

I’ve decided to switch gears a bit with this blog. Instead of looking at the present or future of IU, I’d like to take a few posts to highlight the past. IU is 92 years young and, accordingly, has seen both triumph and controversy surrounding specific decades, people, and global involvement. Its past is bursting with impressive undertakings, nationwide rebellion, and notable game changers.

Let’s start there: IU's Notable Game Changers.

These people are students turned inventors and visionaries. They have become IU idols and mentors for both current students and alumni. They too studied in Wells, took naps in the union, walked through the arboretum, “enjoyed” Indiana’s finicky weather, and developed the skills they needs to venture past the Sample Gates.

In my opinion, what sets these people apart from the rest of the world is more than talent, but involves the diverse education they received while at IU. For the most part, IU students combine one or more interest to create a unique curriculum designed to their likings. For me, I’ve knotted my studies in journalism with business.

Thus, for this and my next post, I’d like to focus on the two game-changing alums for which both have a department named after: first, Ernie Pyle (The Ernie Pyle School of Journalism) and, later, E. W. Kelley (Kelley School of Business).

The legend of Ernie Pyle goes something like this:

Pyle was a farm boy from Dana, Indiana. After serving three months in the Navy Reserves during World War I, Pyle attended IU where he edited the school newspaper (now, the Indiana Daily Student). After years of working a desk job, Pyle went on the road with his wife and created his own job titled “aviation columnist.”

His travels helped him to develop his famed gift—writing about unusual places and people instead of places and people considered “important.” There is a great many lessons to be learned through this tactic that delve deeper than a journalistic endeavor. Pyle had an eye for “special.” In his mind, there was no need for a fancy title or societal thumbs-up to make someone or someplace important.

This knack served him well come World War II.

He is famed for telling stories from the trenches. The stories that made the war personal to the folks back home. His interviewees reflected the population and his skills made him like one of the soldiers.

I won’t go into the awards and honors that Pyle received (however, a Noble Prize is extraordinary). I believe that Pyle’s memory is better served where it is—at Indiana University.

Scholarships, programs, and a building are dedicated to preserving his work, thoughts, and ambition. The only hope is that such is reflected in the students that sit in the media lab of the newspaper or study in the Hall’s library. They too will leave Indiana—maybe not for Europe, Africa or the Pacific like Pyle, but they will still be venturing into unknown territory with their IU education.

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