EVANSVILLE – David Rice, the first president of the University of Southern Indiana, has died at age 90.
The school in Evansville was a regional campus of Indiana State University for 20 years until it became a separate college in 1985. Rice was president until 1994.
“More than a half-century ago, an institution of public higher education in southwestern Indiana was only a dream,” said Ronald Rochon, the current president. “It took the perseverance of Dr. Rice and those around him to make this dream a reality.
“Never underestimate the power of an idea, how it can transform lives, and how it can propel a community,” Rochon said.
Rice died Wednesday at his home in York, Pennsylvania, the university said. A funeral will be held on campus at Carter Hall on Jan. 25.
Rice was inducted into the Evansville Regional Business Hall of Fame in 2013. The university library is named for him.
College names interim president
The interim president at Franklin College is a longtime administrator who has won more than 500 games as basketball coach.
Kerry Prather was appointed after the arrest and firing of Thomas Minar, who is charged in Door County, Wisconsin, with child enticement, use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and exposing a child to harmful material.
“I am working on student recruitment and facilities, and I'm working on advancement. There is no shortage of things to do,” Prather told the Daily Journal. “My No. 1 goal above and beyond all else is to take good care of the most important resources we have, which are the human ones.”
Franklin College has an enrollment of about 1,000 students and is located in Franklin, about 20 miles south of Indianapolis.
Minar had planned to leave the school's presidency in summer. Trustees have been looking for a successor.
Prather said he hasn't thought about pursuing the permanent job.
“I am, right now, a candidate for Friday,” he said. “And if Friday goes well, I am going to be a candidate for Saturday.”
Plan would end Senate primaries
A Republican state senator is pushing for the elimination of Indiana's primary elections for U.S. Senate and proposing that political parties select candidates at conventions.
Sen. James Buck of Kokomo presented his plan to the Senate Elections Committee last week. He said a bloated federal bureaucracy grew from the movement toward voters – not state lawmakers – electing U.S. senators before adoption of the 17th Amendment in 1913.
Buck believes the public would trust that delegates at a state party convention would select the best Senate candidates and that eliminating primary campaigns would make running for office less costly. Voters would still decide the senator in the November general election.
The Republican and Democratic state conventions currently pick nominees for statewide offices such as lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state. But the major offices of governor and U.S. senator have gone before primary voters for decades.
Republican Sen. Erin Houchin of Salem told Buck that she would prefer leaving the Senate candidate decision to voters rather than a much smaller pool of party convention delegates. Nearly 507,000 people voted in Indiana's 2018 Republican U.S. Senate primary.
The committee chairman said Thursday he didn't know whether he would hold a vote on the bill.
Work starts on delayed memorial
Work is underway in northwestern Indiana for a war memorial that was delayed for years by the Great Recession after the 2008 financial crisis.
Crews began clearing trees Wednesday in Crown Point for the memorial, which will feature three separate monuments: one for World War I veterans, another for World War II veterans and one for victims of the Holocaust.
The two war memorials will be placed at opposite ends of a long walkway lined with plaques with information giving visitors a clearer understanding of the events between the two wars, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.
Work on the memorial was supposed to begin after the completion of the Lake County Korean War Memorial in the nearby town of Leroy in 2003.
But the project was delayed by the impact of the Great Recession, said Mitch Barloga, president of the Friends of Veterans Memorial Parkway.
Planning for the memorial regained momentum in 2015 after the Lake County Council gave $100,000 toward design and development, he said.
“This was money to get the thing moving and getting the engineering or the design work and the preliminary engineering going and to get some donations moving forward,” Barloga said.
Barloga said the goal is to have the memorial finished by 2021 or no later than 2022.