Huntington University President G. Blair Dowden was recognized on Friday, Jan. 25, with one of Indiana's top honors, the Sagamore of the Wabash.
Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels selected Dowden for the award because of his contributions to education over his 22 years as president of Huntington. Dowden will retire at the end of the school year.
"Not only is Dr. Dowden's contribution to HU substantial, but his impact on the state of Indiana over the past two decades in leading a great institution has made higher education in Indiana among the best in the country," said Indiana Sen. Jim Banks, who nominated Dowden for the award.
Banks presented Dowden with the award during a luncheon with the university's board of trustees.
Dowden came to Huntington in 1991 as the university's 12th president. During his 22 years of service, the university has doubled its enrollment, tripled its endowment and expanded its academic programs, including plans for branch campuses in Fort Wayne and Peoria, AZ.
Under his leadership, the university moved from the second tier to the Top 15 among the Midwest's baccalaureate colleges ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Huntington was recognized five times on the magazine's list of best values in the region. Huntington also earned recognition from The Princeton Review as a "Best Midwestern College." Forbes includes Huntington on its elite list of "America's Top Colleges."
Dowden has served as chairman of the board of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) and currently serves on the boards of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) and the American Council on Education (ACE).
The Sagamore of the Wabash award was created during the term of Gov. Ralph Gates, who served from 1945 to 1949.
The award is the highest honor the governor of Indiana can bestow and is given to those who have rendered a distinguished service to the state or to the governor.
The term "sagamore" was used by the American Indian tribes of the northeastern United States to describe a lesser chief or a great man among the tribe to whom the true chief would look for wisdom and advice.