Three to receive Indiana University's highest alumni award

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On Nov. 15, three Indiana University graduates will receive IU's Distinguished Alumni Service Award, the university's highest award given only to an alumna or alumnus.

The recipients are Chief Justice Shirley Schlanger Abrahamson, Wisconsin Supreme Court; legendary soul musician Booker T. Jones; and former U.S. Secretary of Education Roderick R. Paige.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie will present the awards to the three honorees. Patrick O'Connor, national chair of the IU Alumni Association, will preside at the presentation ceremony in Alumni Hall at the Indiana Memorial Union.

The Distinguished Alumni Service Award recipients were chosen for service and achievement in their fields of endeavor and significant contributions to community, state or nation. With the addition of these recipients, IU has honored 317 alumni since the award's inception in 1953.

Following are brief individual bios for each award recipient:

Shirley Schlanger Abrahamson 

Shirley Schlanger Abrahamson of Madison, Wis., has been chief justice of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin since 1996 and has served on the court since 1976. She is the longest-serving justice and the first female justice in the 162-year history of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

She graduated first in her IU School of Law class in 1956 and was given an honorary degree by IU in 1986. She has been awarded approximately 15 honorary degrees; inducted into the Academy of Law Alumni Fellows, IU Maurer School of Law; and elected a fellow for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a recipient of the John Marshall Award from the American Bar Association.

A tireless advocate for new federalism, stressing the importance of state constitutional law as the basis for protecting individual rights against state government, she also is a promoter of judicial independence.

Booker T. Jones 

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Grammy Award-winner Booker T. Jones of Los Angeles has been a major force in the music industry for decades. When he came to IU in the early 1960s, Jones was already well known for Booker T. and the MGs' recording of "Green Onions." His name has become synonymous with the Hammond Organ.

He was honored with Grammy Awards in 1994, 2009 and 2013, in addition to receiving a lifetime achievement award at the 2007 Grammys. Jones was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. He has performed at the White House for President Obama.

Jones earned a bachelor's degree in music education in 1967 and was presented an honorary doctorate in 2012.

Roderick R. Paige 

Roderick R. Paige of Houston, Texas, ascended from a college dean and school superintendent to become the seventh U.S. secretary of education, serving from 2001 to 2005. He earned his master's degree in physical education from IU in 1962 and his doctorate in physical education in 1970.

As a trustee and officer of the Houston Independent School District's board of education, Paige co-authored a statement of purpose and goals for the troubled district that called for fundamental reform. He strengthened the school system both organizationally and academically by addressing school overcrowding, staffing, pay, performance-based instruction and support services and programs.

In 1994, he became superintendent of the Houston schools, and his reforms laid the groundwork for his appointment by President George W. Bush as U.S. secretary of education. He was the first African-American to serve in that position.

The IU Alumni Association is dedicated to serving the university and its diverse alumni, students and friends. As one of the nation's largest alumni organizations, serving more than 580,000 graduates worldwide, the IUAA provides many programs and services to its members, nonmember alumni, and the university.