At the 2023 Marian University Gala, we welcomed 2,000 of our closest friends, alumni, and donors to celebrate our continued strategic effort — Journey to 2030: Always Forward. The Mary McNulty Young ’47 Opportunities for Excellence Scholarship Dinner, continues our long-standing, 31-year tradition of sharing our successes and recognizing our milestones. Marian University has a bold vision for investments providing much-needed scholarships, programs, and facilities improvements allowing us to attract and retain a diverse student population. Our graduates integrate faith in their profession and are taught the value of lifelong service to their communities.
Check out all the photos on our Marian University Flickr page!
The 2023 Marian University Gala also celebrates 10 Years of educating medical doctors in Indiana. Marian University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine became Indiana’s second medical school in 2013. Since that time, more than 1,000 students have graduated entering the healthcare field focusing on treating the “whole body” — mind, body, and spirit.
Since it transitioned from a highly successful education program in 2017, the re-imagined Fred S. Klipsch Educators College has distinguished itself from other programs as an innovative outlier. In 2023, Marian University’s Fred S. Klipsch Educators College became one of only 48 institutions in the United States to earn an A+ rating, the highest distinction, from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), and is the only school in Indiana to receive the honor.
The 2023 Marian University Gala is also celebrating the expansion of Marian’s STEHM offerings with the new E.S. Witchger School of Engineering, enabling Marian to provide students with top-ranked engineering education in a state-of-the-art facility. Students can earn degrees in six engineering disciplines: biomedical, chemical, civil, computer, mechanical, and engineering physics.
This year, we continued the tradition of honoring and recognizing deserving honorees that have made, and continue to make our community better. Read more and check out the honoree videos, below.
WRTV Anchor / Investigator, Rafael Sánchez returned an unprecedented fifth time for the 2023 Marian University Gala.
A multiple Emmy award winning anchor and investigative reporter at WRTV-ABC in Indianapolis, Mr. Sánchez co-anchors Good Morning Indiana and also leads on breaking news and political coverage. Rafael participates in about 40-50 fundraisers focused on raising thousands of dollars for charitable causes. As the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, he’s focused on charities that champion education, promote self-empowerment & compassion, and encourage leadership and civic responsibility.
The Impalas are entertaining, talented and energetic—a perfect fit for the annual Marian University Gala! Performing a style including soul, R & B, rock, and swing, they got our Gala crowd up and dancing the night away!
We celebrated the long-standing tradition as members from the Marian University Sacred Choir join the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg for the Benediction and Blessing of St. Clare.
Al Leighton '62 and Kathy Fox '75
2023 Dillon Family Distinguished Alumni Award
The Dillon Family Distinguished Alumni Award is given to alumni who have: attained significant achievements in their careers; exhibited a spirit of mentoring by providing guidance, support, encouragement and leadership to Marian University students, faculty, staff, or to individuals in the broader community and contribute through personal leadership, to the development and growth of the individuals mentored; demonstrated outstanding contributions to the growth, development, and visibility of Marian University through gifts of energy, time, and talents; demonstrated a commitment to achieving peace and social justice through significant contributions in a professional or volunteer role; contributed significantly to the welfare of others through volunteering in direct service endeavors; or made outstanding contributions to the improvement of the civic, national, global, or religious community through professional or volunteer leadership. See a special video message from Al Leighton '62: Divine Interventions.
The story of Al Leighton ’62 and Kathy Fox ’75 is unapologetically Marian. Separately, both were students and supporters of Marian University, but together, they make an unforgettable duo that brighten the campus every time they visit.
Leighton graduated from Marian College in 1962. During his time as a student, he was the manager of the baseball and basketball teams, secretary for the M-Club, and a member of the Phoenix business staff. After graduating, he worked for the CPA firm of Haskins and Sell (now Deloitte) in Dayton, Ohio. Shortly thereafter, he left to work for Marian Inc. and their 15 related companies. During his time there, he served in various leadership roles including secretary, treasurer, and CFO, to which he said, “I must be in a rut or I really like working there—you figure it out!”
Leighton was married to his wife, Sue, for 51 years before she passed away in 2020. Together, they had one son, Erik Leighton, married to Mindy, and they have two grandchildren, Rachel and Ryan, who, says Leighton, “definitely keep me young.” Shortly after Sue’s passing, Leighton was introduced to Kathy Fox at the Marian University’s St. Joseph Chapel ribbon cutting.
Fox graduated from Marian College in 1975 with a degree in accounting. After working for some time, she returned to Butler University for her teaching license and master’s in business education and business—she proceeded to teach accounting, keyboarding, typing, and web design, an incredible feat as she was teaching this during the infancy of widespread internet access. It wasn’t until her mother passed, having left some money for Marian University in her will, that Fox found herself back at Marian. After a long discussion with the Office of Institutional Advancement, Fox decided to use that money to dedicate a pew in the new St. Joseph Chapel to her mother.
After the ribbon-cutting, Fox, fellow alumni Joseph Kuzmitz ’75 and Al all went to lunch together. As Al and Kathy got to know eachother better, they discovered some common mutual connections, realized they lived in the same area, then promptly exchanged numbers agreeing to meet again. However, time went by, and Fox had not heard from Leighton, so she decided to give him a call. The two proceeded to get lunch, return to his deck, and talk for five hours. They are so in-tune with each other, according to Fox, and have similar senses of humor and goals. They kept meeting up, grabbing lunch, and talking, until they eventually married in July 2022, in the St. Joseph Chapel—the place they’d originally met. Truly, a Marian University love story.
In more ways than financial, Leighton has been generous to Marian University for the past 30+ years. He has supported numerous scholarships, including the: Eugene S. Witchger Memorial Scholarship, Athletic Endowed Scholarship Fund, Henry K. Engel Accounting and Finance Endowed Scholarship, Class of 1962 Anniversary Endowed Scholarship, and the Alan E. and Sue E. Leighton Endowed Nursing Scholarship. He financially supported the stained-glass windows effort for Marian University’s St. Joseph Chapel, and, in 2013, the School of Nursing was renamed the “Leighton School of Nursing,” in honor of his generosity. Additionally, he has served as the co-chairman of the annual alumni fund drive, has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2004, chairing the Facilities committee, and is on the Finance, Executive, and Investment committees.
On a national level, Leighton has also served on the Board of Directors for the profit-sharing 401k council of America (PSCA) and has chaired their Education/Communications Committee. He has also generously volunteered his time and treasure to his alma mater, Cathedral High School, Dayspring Center, Gleaners Food Bank, the Rotary Club of Indianapolis, the Rotary Foundation, and the United Way of Central Indiana. And, Kathy Fox accompanies Al through all this work, while also volunteering for Teachers’ Treasures.
Both Al Leighton ’62 and Kathy Fox ’75 have proven their dedication to philanthropy, service, and Marian University. Their presence on-campus is enough to light up a room. It is incredibly fitting that they be honored as the 2023 Dillon Family Distinguished Alumni Award recipients.
2023 Franciscan Values Award
Marian University traces its roots to 1851, when the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana founded a teacher training school to serve the needs of the Catholic community in southeastern Indiana. The Sisters established Marian College in Indianapolis in 1937; today Marian University offers students an excellent education that emphasizes a Franciscan understanding of the sponsorship values of dignity of the individual, peace and justice, reconciliation, and responsible stewardship. These values represent the legacy of our founders and the foundation of our personal approach to educating the whole person. In honor of this legacy, each year Marian University presents the Franciscan Values Award in recognition of contributions to our community.Read More about Ted Gary
2023 John A. Purdie Innovator and Mentor of the Year Award
The John A. Purdie Innovator and Mentor of the Year Award is named for Marian University Trustee John A. Purdie, a certified public accountant and graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the Herman C. Krannert School of Business at Purdue University. Purdie served as president of Regency Windsor Capital, Inc., a family-owned real estate investment holding company in Florida.Read More about Teresa Lubbers
Teresa Lubbers graduated from Warren High School in 1969, before attending Indiana University for English. Eventually, she would go on to hold a master’s in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Lubbers credits her passion for politics to her upbringing in eastern-Indianapolis. Growing up, she spent each of her summers working for Indianapolis’ Department of Transportation, which began her storied career in local and national politics. In reminiscing about her youth, she remarked, “I have often said that other than my faith and family, Richard Lugar [United States Senator, Indiana 1932-2019] has had more of an impact on my life than anything.”
Lubbers currently serves as president of the Sagamore Institute, an Indianapolis-based think tank that aims to build and implement public policy solutions that she refers to as a “place of hope.” As she continues to lead Sagamore, her long-term goals include minimizing income disparity and international security threats, while maximizing opportunity and talent in the heartland of the United States.
Lubbers has formerly served as the Indiana Commissioner of Higher Education, where she sought to align the needs of students and the state with Indiana’s postsecondary education system. She also spent 17 years in the Indiana State Senate, serving as the Chair of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee. Beyond these career milestones, Lubbers was also a high school English teacher, started her own public relations firm, and has worked in a variety of other political roles.
It is clear that Teresa Lubbers is dedicated to bolstering Indiana’s educational and political systems. At the forefront of everything she’s done…is change. She is a workhorse, a visionary, and someone who truly wants the best for this community.
In her spare time, she serves the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, the YMCA Foundation, Tabernacle Presbyterian Church, and is a co-founder of the Lugar Excellence in Public Service Series. She feels honored to be recognized as the 2023 John A. Purdie Innovator of the Year award recipient.
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Notice of Nondiscrimination
Marian University does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, age or disabilities in the selection of administrative personnel, faculty and staff, and students.
*Placement rates are gathered from data collected from graduates within six months of graduation.
Students may make a complaint to the Indiana Commission of Higher Education.
Marian University is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana.
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