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Best of the Best

The 2022 Distinguished Alumni Service Award recipients. Sketches by Bonnie Jo Sklarski.

IU established the Distinguished Alumni Service Award program in 1953 to honor alumni service, achievement in their fields, and commitment to improving their communities on the local, state, or national level. Roughly 350 alumni have received the award since its inception, making it one of the rarest and most prestigious accolades an IU alum can receive.

IU President Pamela Whitten presented four IU alumni with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award on Oct. 6, 2022.

In the following videos, you’ll hear Ken Beckley, BS’62, former CEO of the IU Alumni Association, narrate the inspiring stories of each 2022 DASA recipient.

Rev. Franklin E. Breckenridge Sr., BS’63, JD’68

Breckenridge, a retired Kokomo, Ind., attorney, has devoted his career to civil rights and justice for people of color, serving for 25 years as president of the Indiana chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. After graduating from IU with a bachelor’s degree, Breckenridge was a teacher in Kokomo and attended law classes in the evening. In 1973, he landed a job as a corporate attorney for Miles Laboratories—later acquired by Bayer Corp.—and practiced there until 1998. Throughout his career, he provided pro bono legal services to the NAACP and served as pastor at African Methodist Episcopal churches in La Porte, South Bend, and Elkhart. He played a major role in the desegregation of schools in Indianapolis and South Bend. “Franklin is a true champion for individuals’ civil liberties [and] a consummate fighter for equal justice for all of our citizens,” writes Lacy Johnson, JD’81, partner-in-charge of the Washington, D.C., office of the law firm Taft, in his nomination of Breckenridge.

Pamela L. Carter, JD’84, LLD’99

Carter, of Franklin, Tenn., has enjoyed a diverse career in the public and private sectors, as well as in higher education. Among her notable roles was as Indiana attorney general, a post to which she was elected in 1992, making history as the first Black woman in the country to be a state’s attorney general. Her time in politics also included a stint as deputy chief of staff to former Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh, BS’78, LLD’96. Carter also served as a social worker, corporate executive, litigator, and as director of a nonprofit organization. During her childhood, she met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an encounter that inspired her to serve others and guided her actions as attorney general, which included advocating for victims of sexual violence—including Desiree Washington, who was raped by boxer Mike Tyson—and fraud. She also founded Project PEACE, an effort to reduce violence and bullying in Indiana’s schools. “Pam made history [and] her story continues to inspire all of us,” writes Karen Bravo, dean of the IU McKinney School of Law.

James F. Collins, MA’65, LLD’99

Collins, of Bethesda, Md., earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard before enrolling at IU and then embarking on a career in diplomacy. He played a critical role as deputy chief of mission in Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union, and he has drawn praise for helping shape U.S. policy during that time of upheaval. His work paved the way for decades of peaceful relations between the two superpowers. In 1997, he was named ambassador to Russia, a post he occupied until 2001, when he entered the private sector as a senior adviser at a Washington, D.C., law firm. During his career at the U.S. Department of State, Collins also held diplomatic roles in Jordan and Turkey. Prior to that, he taught history, government, and economics at the U.S. Naval Academy. “We are at a pivotal point in U.S.-Russian relations and recognizing Ambassador Collins [puts] a spotlight not only on his service but how Indiana University prepares leaders who tackle the greatest challenges facing our world,” writes Rick Van Kooten, executive dean of the IU College of Arts and Sciences.

Jayma M. Meyer, BS’75

Meyer, an attorney in the New York City office of the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, is a pioneer in sports law and has devoted much of her career to gender equality, diversity, and inclusion in sports. While growing up in Bloomington, Ind., Meyer developed a passion for swimming, but there was no high school swim team for girls. Undeterred, she devoted herself to the sport and nearly qualified for the 1972 U.S. Olympic team. During her legal career, Meyer has been on the frontlines of issues such as financial compensation for college athletes and the treatment of transgender athletes. She has brought this experience into the classroom as a visiting professor at the IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, lauds Meyer’s “deep commitment to ensuring that future generations of girls and women are afforded the equal athletic opportunities that she was not [afforded] as a girl herself.”

Written By

Brian Hartz

Brian Hartz, MA’01, is a journalist and tennis coach based in St. Petersburg, Fla. In addition to writing for the Indiana University Alumni Magazine, he covers business news for the St. Pete Catalyst.

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