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IU Northwest to bestow honorary degree at 51st Annual Commencement on May 11

Earline Rogers, former Indiana senator/educator, lauded for her service, commitment to education

Monday May 08, 2017

Indiana University Northwest will host its 51st Annual Commencement on Thursday, May 11 beginning at 4 p.m. at the Genesis Center in Gary.

At this year’s ceremony, for the first time in nearly a decade, Chancellor William J. Lowe will bestow an honorary doctorate, the highest academic recognition of Indiana University.

A former educator and state senator, Gary native Earline Rogers will accept the honor, awarded only to those who have demonstrated high standards of excellence in scholarship or creative activity; in professional achievement; in public service to the world, the nation, the state, or the community; or in wholehearted commitment to Indiana University. This is the fifth honorary degree granted by IU Northwest since 2000.

Rogers spent 38 years teaching in the Gary public school system. She was first elected to the Indiana Senate in 1990 and retired in 2016. Before serving in the Senate, she was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives for eight years.

Committed to helping Indiana thrive, Rogers spent her career advocating for better education and has authored and carried numerous pieces of related legislation. These include the Indiana Seal of Biliteracy program; the A-Plus education reform package; anti-bullying reforms; JoJo's Law for transportation safety; and Heather's Law, which requires the Department of Education to develop models for Indiana schools to educate students about dating violence.

She has been a leader in creating and sustaining the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and helped create a pathway allowing for casino gaming in Indiana. Her support for health-related legislation and efforts to bring an academic medical center hospital to Gary have been instrumental in the growth of the IU School of Medicine-Northwest-Gary.

“While as a student at Indiana University in Bloomington, I realized my passion was to serve. In fact, I tried to live my entire adult life by my favorite quote from Shirley Chisholm, ‘Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth’ Rogers said, “To receive an honorary degree from the institution that truly helped me to realize my calling is beyond an honor. I was surprised, overwhelmed and appreciative that I was singled out for this award by my alma mater.”

The last honorary degree granted by IU Northwest was to local philanthropist and businessman James Dye in 2009.

For those who wish to attend Commencement, the doors of the Genesis Center will open at 2 p.m. and guests are asked to find their seats by 3:45 p.m. Handicapped accessible seating, which is limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis, will close between 3:45 and 4 p.m. Tickets are not required to attend Commencement.

About the Class of 2017
IU Northwest will confer 643 degrees at this year’s ceremony. The Class of 2017 will collectively receive 64 associate’s degrees, 532 bachelor’s degrees and 47 master’s degrees. Sixty-nine percent of this year’s graduating class are female and nearly 25 percent are over the age of 30. The most numerous degree to be granted is the Bachelor of Arts in Psychology followed by the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The oldest and youngest graduating students are 64 and 20 years of age, respectively.

About Indiana University Northwest

As one of seven Indiana University campuses, IU Northwest leads the region as the premier, urban campus dedicated to serving the needs of nearly 6,000 students from the state’s most diverse and industrialized region. Committed to helping its local Northwest Indiana communities thrive, IU Northwest is best-known for providing a personal, quality and affordable education close to home.  IU Northwest positions its students to be leaders with more than 70 undergraduate, graduate and pre-professional degree options available from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Health and Human Services, the School of Business and Economics, and the School of Education. The campus is also host to IU School of Medicine-Northwest, which actively involves students in research and local healthcare needs through its four-year medical doctorate program. For more information, please visit

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