IPFW issued this news release tonight:
FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) honored long-time community and campus leaders Linda Ruffolo (posthumously) and Irene Walters as IPFW Champions in a private ceremony at the Steel Dynamics Keith E. Busse IPFW Alumni Center in late May.
"It was a very special pleasure to honor the incredible passion and service of these two dedicated women," said Chancellor Vicky Carwein.
Irene accepted her award in front of a group of friends and former co-workers.
Three of Linda's former co-workers, Colleen Dixon, Tracey Peterson, and Paula Rice, accepted the award for her. Linda passed away in March.
A team for IPFW and the community
Irene and Linda began working at IPFW just 75 days apart in 1995, but they had already invested 20 years of volunteering in Fort Wayne before joining IPFW.
Their shared commitment to the community showed in their work on campus. They inspired co-workers to reach out and become involved through volunteering and serving on local non-profit boards.
They also created opportunities for the community to come to campus, breaking down the walls between "town and gown."
As IPFW's director of development, Linda was involved in many iconic projects on campus, including the Steel Dynamics Keith E. Busse IPFW Alumni Center, the John and Ruth Rhinehart Music Center, and the Ron Venderly Family Bridge. She also created new ways to thank and recognize our donors such as the Applause events and the Obelisk of Honored Philanthropists.
It was also Linda's vision to create the "50 for 50" fundraiser that brought in more than $2.5 million in endowments, including $2.3 million in scholarship funds.
Although she had many successes at IPFW, Linda is remembered most for the relationships she built with people and for the impact of her commitment to the community. Over the years, she volunteered with Arts United, the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Study Connection, Forte Festival, Fort Wayne Ballet, and Fort Wayne Youtheatre. She was also president of the Lincoln Museum.
In her position as executive director of university relations, one of Irene's main goals was building connections between IPFW and the community.
Under her leadership, the university launched two public art projects —Mastodons on Parade and Sculpture with Purpose ¢ — partnered with Science Central to create the Lunch with an IPFW Scientist program, and hosted cultural events such as the Omnibus Lecture Series, the Remnant Trust, and Tapestry.
In the community, Irene helped create the Kids Crossing playground, was a co-founder of Francine’s Friends, and the president of Women United. She has volunteered her time for countless community organizations including Leadership Fort Wayne, Indiana Humanities Council, Fort Wayne Rotary, The Learning Center, Fort Wayne/Allen County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Fort Wayne Redevelopment Authority, Friends of the River, and Tower Bank.
About the Champion Award
An IPFW Champion is someone who is recognized for his or her outstanding contributions and service as an ambassador in connecting our university with our community.
Previous honorees were Donald McArdle, Elias Samaan, and Alfred Zacher in 2011, Karl LaPan (2012), Maclyn Parker (2012), David Molfenter (2013), and R. Prasad Mantravadi, M.D. (2014).