IUP to Honor Nell Jack with President’s Medal of Distinction

Posted on 3/25/2015 11:15:04 AM

Nell Jack Receives President's MedalNell G. Jack will receive the 2015 Indiana University of Pennsylvania President’s Medal of Distinction for dedication and support.

Michael Driscoll, IUP president, will present the award to Jack at the annual Leader’s Circle of Indiana County awards event on April 22 at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.

The President’s Medal of Distinction is the highest non-degree award the university presents. It was established in 1985 to honor citizens of the state and region whose professional achievement or public service is of national significance or special significance to the university. 

As a longtime Indiana resident, and even after her departure for the warmer temperatures of Arizona, Jack has been a loyal friend to IUP and the Indiana community, backing a wide range of interests that have benefited university tradition and raised institutional visibility and prestige, Driscoll said.

“Mrs. Jack has been actively engaged and has supported the university and the community her entire public life,” he said. “Her generosity has enhanced this university in many arenas. She has helped us to present cultural and educational offerings that have elevated the stature of the university, and her support for scholarships has benefited, and will continue to help, hundreds of students, including our student-athletes. She has my admiration and respect, and I feel fortunate to have gotten to know her during my time here at IUP.”

With her husband, the late Sam Jack, Nell Jack was responsible for the restoration of the Blue Room that came on the heels of a legendary alumni and community movement to save John Sutton Hall. Sutton is the campus’s original building and housed all of Indiana State Normal School.

The building had been slated for demolition, but public outcry and a subsequent capital campaign saved the structure, now on the National Register of Historic Landmarks.

The Jacks’ gift, made in 1978, amounted to nearly a third of the campaign goal. They said they made the gift not only to restore the Blue Room, but also to inspire others to invest in IUP’s historic architectural treasure.

In 1984, Jack and her husband established the Nell and Sam Jack Distinguished American Lecturer Series. The caliber of speakers attracted coverage in the Pittsburgh media, raising the stature of IUP regionally while also providing the university and surrounding community access to thought-provoking lectures by America’s most prestigious figures. They included Alexander Haig, Carl Sagan, Sandra Day O’Connor, William F. Buckley Jr., and Beverly Sills, among others.

For the last three decades, Jack has lent her name to a golf tournament to raise scholarship funds for women athletes at IUP. In addition, she and her daughter, Christine Toretti, established a scholarship that has benefited scores of athletes. In recognition of her contributions, Jack was inducted as an honorary member of the IUP Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.

In 2012, Jack established two new scholarships in honor of Indiana residents and IUP alumni Walt and Sue Lewis. One benefits students in the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology who are pursuing degrees in energy management, and the other benefits members of the men’s basketball team.

The Leader’s Circle awards dinner, now in its 16th year, recognizes the recipient of the IUP President’s Medal of Distinction and the nominees and recipients of the Indiana County Male and Female Civic Leader awards and the ATHENA Award. The Leader’s Circle of Indiana County includes representation from IUP, civic organizations, past award recipients, and award sponsors.