April 10, 2013

Ivy Tech Community College’s Bloomington campus, in celebration of the College’s statewide 50th Anniversary, will award several honorary associate degrees at its 2013 Commencement Ceremony on May 17.

“Ivy Tech Community College, system-wide, plans to award honorary associate degrees to 50 individuals around the state who have made significant contributions to community service,” said Chancellor John Whikehart. “The Bloomington campus has selected four benefactors and friends of Ivy Tech-Bloomington in honor of the College’s 50 years of changing lives.”

Select recipients of Ivy Tech-Bloomington’s honorary associate degrees include Former State Senator Vi Simpson, Former Indiana First Lady Judy O’Bannon, Indiana Legend George Taliaferro, and Judge Viola Taliaferro.

As one of Indiana’s most effective and respected leaders, former State Senator Vi Simpson, has spent a career fighting for causes that matter most to Hoosiers. First elected to the Senate in 1984, she was elected Democrat Leader by the Senate Democratic Caucus in 2008. In her time in the Senate, Simpson has worked to make health care more affordable and accessible for Indiana residents, led the fight to restructure the state’s economy to become globally competitive, and has been a tireless advocate for improving Indiana’s public schools and universities. Widely recognized as an expert on the state’s finances, Simpson served as the caucus representative on the State Budget Committee from 1998-2007. She was the first woman to serve and lead this committee.

Former Indiana First Lady (1997-2003), Judy O’Bannon, has spent much of her life as a proponent of strengthening communities in Indiana and around the world. She is host of the Emmy-winning, WFYI-TV produced, television series Communities Building Community. She travels abroad on humanitarian missions that she incorporates into her television series Judy O’Bannon’s Foreign Exchange, which looks at the commonality of community development efforts worldwide. She has served in a variety of leadership roles: on the Executive Board of Directors of Indiana Landmarks, the chairwoman for the Indiana Main Street Council, as trustee of the Indiana State Museum, a member of the Indiana Arts Commission, a founding member of the Advisory Board of Silvercrest Children’s Development Center, and chair of the Old Centrum Foundation.

George Taliaferro, as the leading rusher and All-American at Indiana University, led the football program to their only undefeated Big Ten Conference Championship. As three-time All-American, Taliaferro was inducted into the College Football Hall Of Fame in 1981. Taliaferro was the first African-American drafted into the National Football League, picked up by the Chicago Bears, but had already committed to play instead with the L.A. Dons of the All-American Football Conference in 1949. He moved to the NFL in 1950. In 1970, he returned to IU to work as a special assistant to President John Ryan, to develop a university-wide affirmative action plan. Taliaferro, a true Indiana legend, is active in numerous community organizations in his home of 35 years, Bloomington.

Judge Viola Taliaferro retired from a career as a circuit-court judge specializing in juvenile justice. She was the first African-American to serve as a judge in Monroe County. Taliaferro has lived in Bloomington the last 35 years. She is active in numerous community organizations. Judge Taliaferro has served on the board of directors of the Bloomington and Monroe County Community Foundation for the past five years and has also served as president of the board for one year. Taliaferro earned a national reputation because of her integrity and constant commitment to excellence, traits she continued to exhibit as juvenile justice consultant to Attorney General Janet Reno and a member of the National Research Council on Juvenile Justice.

For more information about Ivy Tech-Bloomington’s commitment to civic engagement, visit

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.