Four new members were inducted into the Indiana Academy at its 52nd annual gala on Tuesday, October 17, at the Carmichael Hotel in Carmel. The Academy was founded in 1970 and promotes the advancement of private higher education in Indiana through the support of Independent Colleges of Indiana and its member institutions. Members of the Indiana Academy are selected by its Board of Regents from nominations submitted by members of the Indiana Academy or presidents of ICI member institutions.  

“The commitment and dedication demonstrated by this year’s inductees truly embody the spirit of excellence that the Indiana Academy upholds,” said Elaine Bedel, Chair of the Indiana Academy Board of Regents and Secretary and CEO for Indiana Destination Development Corporation. “Their impact on our communities and educational landscape will continue to inspire generations to come.”

The distinguished 2023 inductees include: 

Justin P. Christian, CEO & Founder, BCforward
Introduced by: Dr. Lori White, President, DePauw University
Justin P. Christian is a prominent figure in Indiana known for his outstanding contributions to the state’s technology and business sectors. A 1995 graduate of DePauw University with a degree in computer science, Christian is a visionary entrepreneur who co-founded BCforward, an IT services and staffing firm headquartered in Indianapolis. Christian and his wife Darrianne provided a significant gift to establish the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at DePauw University which was dedicated and officially opened in November 2017. 

Clarence Crain, Board Member, Lilly Endowment Inc.
Introduced by: Jim Danko, President, Butler University
Pictured: Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge, Indiana Academy Regent

Clarence Crain boasts a distinguished career marked by significant contributions to both education and community service in Indiana. After serving at General Motors Corp. for 30 years, he transitioned to Lilly Endowment Inc., where he retired as a program director in the Education and Youth Programs Division in August 2020. Crain’s dedication to education is exemplified by his involvement with Butler University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1973. Crain served as a Butler Trustee from 2000 to 2006 and became a Trustee Emeritus in 2010. He was a charter member of the Minority Alumni Council, now the Black Alumni Association, and has also served as a member of the Alumni Board and LSB Dean’s Advisory Council. 

William K. McGowan, Jr., Retired President and CEO, Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association
Introduced by: Jim Morris, Vice Chairman, Pacers Sports & Entertainment
William K. “Bill” McGowan, Jr. is renowned for his pivotal role in shaping the city as a premier destination for conventions, tourism, and sports. Serving as the president and CEO of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association (now Visit Indy) from 1984 to 2002, he was instrumental in securing major events such as the 1982 National Sports Festival and the 1987 Pan American Games. McGowan holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Notre Dame University. He has served as a member of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees, the Advisory Council for the Snite Museum of Art, and the Alumni Association Board of Directors, where he was national president from 1973 to 1974. 

Dr. Nichole Wilson, Vice President of Community Health Operations, Indiana University Health
Introduced by: Dr. Sean Huddleston, President, Martin University 

Dr. Nichole Wilson is a trailblazing healthcare executive who has left a lasting mark on Indiana’s healthcare landscape. Currently serving as the vice president of Community Health Operations at IU Health, Wilson leads transformative efforts to enhance the state’s overall health. Wilson holds a bachelor’s degree in sport medicine from DePauw University, master’s and doctoral degrees in physical therapy from the University of Indianapolis, and a master’s of business administration from Purdue University. Her extensive academic background, coupled with her passion for health equity, reflects her unwavering commitment to Indiana’s well-being. 

The Indiana Academy honorees are recognized annually for lifetimes of achievement and contribution to the state of Indiana. Members of the Academy demonstrate exceptional leadership in philanthropy, business, public service, advancement of the sciences, the arts, literature, culture, and scholarship in connection with Indiana’s independent non-profit colleges and universities. Bios and introduction videos for all inductees can be found here online. 

“We were delighted to honor the 2023 class of inductees,” said Dottie L. King, President and CEO of Independent Colleges of Indiana. “This distinguished group of leaders has made a remarkable impact on our campus communities and the entire state of Indiana, for which we are profoundly grateful.”  

During the gala, King presented a video highlighting the success of Indiana’s 29 private colleges and universities. The video emphasized these institutions’ collective dedication to nurturing individual success and contributing to the prosperity of the entire state. Watch the video here. 

About the Indiana Academy
Modeled after the French Academy, the Indiana Academy was established in 1970 by the Independent Colleges of Indiana to recognize individual leadership, achievement, and philanthropy designed to promote the advancement of the state, as well as its independent sector of higher education. All Indiana Academy members are listed online. Watch this history video to learn about the Indiana Academy and its founder, Kurt F. Pantzer, Sr.