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A Historic Night in Indianapolis

On October 28, Marian University celebrated a historic evening at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. During the annual Marian University gala, President Daniel J. Elsener not only shared the news of another banner year of monumental successes but also announced Journey to 2030: Always Forward.

Our community of approximately 2,000 local leaders, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the business community came together to raise a record $2.6 million for student scholarships to fulfill our Marian Promise and commitment to every student. And, our annual gala would not be complete without honoring and recognizing deserving honorees that have made, and continue to make our community better. Read more about our recipients, below.

  • Janet Holcomb, Franciscan Values Award recipient
  • Mario Rodriguez, John A. Purdie Innovator and Mentor of the Year Award recipient
  • John '63 and Phyllis Cardis, Dillon Family Distinguished Alumni Award

Always Forward

Marian's Journey to 2030: Always Forward is focused on three pillars:

  • Student Access and Success,
  • STEHM Illumined by the Liberal arts, and
  • Faith in Action.

This strategic plan will require $500 million in resources and the first milestone is $350 million by 2025 and then $500 million by 2030. For more information on how you can help students fulfill their dreams, and to make your gift or pledge, visit, email, or call (317) 698-3205.

Check out some of our 2022 Gala videos below, or visit the entire playlist of 2022 Marian University Gala videos on our YouTube channel, here.

2022 Marian Gala Promise Video

2022 Marian Gala Honoree Video

Watch the full 2022 Marian Gala


The story of John ’63 and Phyllis Cardis is a tale of two partnerships, one of family and the other professional. The family partnership was formed around their love and marriage for over sixty years, beginning with them dating in their senior year at Scecina Memorial High School, and John going off to Marian University in 1959.

During the next four years, they were married and had two lovely children. John devoted his time to being a student, working 17 different jobs to pay tuition and support his family; Phyllis was dedicated to raising the children and supporting the family. John graduated in 1963, and their young family immediately packed up the car and two children and left to start a career with Deloitte in Cleveland, Ohio, with $100 in their pockets. 

Ultimately, John and Phyllis became parents to six children and grandparents to eight. Family members live all over the country. As a consequence, the family gathers in the Hamptons in the summer and in Jackson Hole in the winter, with cherished memories of theme parties over many years.

Fundamental to Phyllis and John’s life and success is the deep religious and family values received through the solid Catholic education from the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana and Sisters of Providence. Being part of a large family also taught them to sacrifice, love and respect and care for others, be good team members, and most importantly, be positive and have fun. They believe you gain strength from others, and giving back to the community is a duty and blessing that keeps you grounded in societal needs. 

The second partnership is a 41-year career with Deloitte. In supporting John’s senior leadership role at Deloitte, Phyllis has always served double duty. She has been an active and important part of John’s career and community service, and her lifelong contribution is recognized and appreciated. 

Deloitte has been in existence for one hundred and seventy years. Today it’s one of the world’s largest private partnerships with 330,000 partners and employees. John has been in a leadership role since he was 32, leading practices in Long Island, Pittsburgh, and in its second largest practice, Los Angeles. In the summers of 1982 and 1983, the firm requested John to attend the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program. John also had three appointments to the National Headquarters Office in New York with portfolios national in scope.

He served on Deloitte’s Board of Directors for eight years and on its Executive Committee for 16 years. Most responsibilities involved regular international travel. Phyllis and John have lived in nine different cities, have had 22 primary residences, and driver’s licenses in eight states.

Upon retirement from Deloitte, John served on three Boards of Directors of New York Stock Exchange companies, for up to 13 years. 

Community engagement and support has been front and center in John and Phyllis’ lives from the beginning, touching 20 different organizations. They strived to achieve important roles to help each community give back to those in need. In Los Angeles for instance, John chaired the boards of the Boy Scouts of America and the United Way. He served on the Board of Chamber of Commerce and worked on several projects for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Phyllis was on the board of the Chamber of Commerce and was involved in these other Boards. These activities and firm leadership meant frequent nights out for the Cardis’ and we remember Phyllis’ double duty. 

In 2002, President Elsener invited John to join the Board of Trustees. In 2003, John was the commencement speaker. In the following year, Phyllis and John were named co-chairs of Marian’s first national capital campaign under President Elsener which publicly launched on October 25, 2007. The fundraising goal was to secure $68.2 million by October 2012, the campaign consultant recommended $22-$25 million. Marian ended raising $140 million by October 2012 for the “Make History” campaign.  John has always espoused that there is a fine line between courage and stupidity. One wants to stay on the courageous side of the line. Marian was courageous! 

Marian University has always held a special place in the hearts of Phyllis and John. They feel blessed with the opportunity to support the university and take great pride in Marian’s many accomplishments. 

First Lady Janet Holcomb is the wife of Indiana’s 51st Governor Eric Holcomb. She grew up on a horse farm near Muncie, Indiana, where horses and ponies were her first passion in life. She also developed a love of the arts, particularly drawing, early in life and went on to complete her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts at Ball State University.

As the daughter and granddaughter of small business owners, some of her most valuable lessons were learned at the family dinner table. Beginning in 2009, she served as vice president of her family’s manufacturing business, R&R Engineering, which has been producing and distributing bolts and fasteners across the U.S. and Canada for 50 years. For a decade prior to joining the business, Janet led many record-setting political fundraising efforts at the federal, state, and local levels. 

Janet's initiatives as First Lady are as broad as her interests. They include combating infant mortality, promoting the arts, supporting the state's economic development efforts, and promoting women in business. She enjoys encouraging youth organizations such as 4-H and scouting. Janet serves on the boards of Riley Children's Foundation, the Hoosier Salon, the alumni chapter of the Indianapolis FBI Citizens Academy, and The Nature Conservancy.

Janet particularly enjoys sharing her passion for shooting sports and personal protection with other women. Earning her pistol instructor certification in 2015, she has led training classes throughout the state, often partnering with the Indiana National Guard and members of law enforcement. 

Governor and First Lady Holcomb live in the Indiana Governor’s Residence with First Dog Henry and his kitty sister, Topper. In 2020, during the height of the Covid lockdowns, Janet and a group of friends designed and constructed a chicken coop for the residence, which is now home to the Hoosier Hens. Taking on this challenging project was in keeping with the advice First Lady Holcomb shares with others:

“I always encourage young people to develop an attitude of lifelong learning and a habit of trying new things--particularly things that challenge, and even might scare you. It is through these experiences that we may truly grow and overcome.  For me, this often leads to discovery afield in the natural world, rejuvenates me, and is often where I feel closest to our Creator.” 

Mario Rodriguez, the Chief Executive Officer of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, is an award-winning, nationally recognized leader. Mario was appointed by President Joe Biden and former Presidents Barrack Obama, and Donald J. Trump to serve on the U.S. Department of Transportation's Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee. He served on a Presidential transition team and continues to provide counsel on aviation industry matters. In 2021 Mario was awarded the highest honor given to an active airport chief executive officer, Airports Council International's Excellence in Visionary Leadership Award. He also is the recipient of one of Indiana's highest honors, The Sagamore of the Wabash, conferred by Governor Eric Holcomb in 2018. Additionally, he has been honored with a United States Congressional Recognition, granted by Congressman André Carson, in 2019.

During his tenure in California, he served as the president of the California Airports Council. He received a California Senate Resolution, conferred by Senator Ricardo Lara; a United States House of Representatives Recognition, conferred by Congressman Alan Lowenthal; a County of Los Angeles Commendation, conferred by Chairman Don Knabe; and a City of Long Beach Recognition, conferred by Mayor Dr. Robert Garcia.

He also received recognition, including a New Orleans City Council Proclamation, for his leadership in developing the flood protection system around the New Orleans International Airport before Hurricane Katrina and his leadership during the City's evacuation and recovery.

Under his leadership, the Authority had record-breaking growth, successfully navigated the pandemic, announced significant economic development projects, and was recognized as the Best Airport in North America by J.D. Power, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, TripAdvisor, and Airports Council International.

He is an active community leader and board member of numerous philanthropic and business organizations such as the Indianapolis and Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Ivy Tech Community College Board of Trustees, 2024 NBA All-Star Game, Visit Indy, The Indiana Sports Corporation, the Economic Club of Indiana, the Indy 500 Festival Committee, and the Indiana Destination Development Corporation Foundation. He is the former president of the Indiana Latino Institute (ILI) Board and a founder of the Hispanic Leadership Circle, whose mission is to advance Indiana's Latino communities. Under his leadership, the Institute expanded from serving one-hundred Latino students to over twenty-eight hundred in 2019 and increased the organization's net assets by over forty percent.

Rodriguez is an engineering graduate of the University of Miami (1987), attended the Harvard Kennedy School, and is an accomplished author and speaker on issues impacting the transportation industry. For over 30 years, he has held leadership positions from Hong Kong to Indianapolis.


Presenting Sponsor

Michael and Rebecca Kubacki

Reception Sponsor

Denny and Cathy Sponsel

Dessert Sponsor

Scott '98 and Jenn Young

Entertainment Sponsor


Video Sponsor

Parkview Physicians Group

Endowed and Annual Scholarship Sponsor ($50,000)

Parkview Physicians Group

Russell and Penny Fortune Foundation, Inc.

Multiple Sponsorships are still available.

  • Full back page ad in printed program
  • Recognition in printed event program and on digital signage at event
  • website recognition
  • One table of 10 with preferred placement

Printed Program Sponsor

 Morales Group Logo

Skywalk Sponsor

Hendricks Regional Logo


Giveaway Sponsor


Platinum Table Sponsor ($10,000)

  • Recognition in printed event program and on digital signage at event
  • One table of 10

Gold Table Sponsor ($5,000)

  • Recognition in printed event program and on digital signage at event
  • One table of 10

Of note:

  • Pledges for sponsorships can be fulfilled over three to five years.
  • All sponsorships at $50,000 or more are eligible to endow a scholarship in the donor/company’s name.
  • A portion of your purchase may be considered a charitable donation

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© 2021 Marian University
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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