John W. Ryan

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John Ryan
14th President of Indiana University
In office
Preceded by Joseph Sutton
Succeeded by Thomas Ehrlich
Personal details
Born August 12, 1929
Chicago, Illinois
Died August 6, 2011(2011-08-06) (aged 81)
Bloomington, Indiana
Alma mater University of Utah (B.A.)
Indiana University (M.A)
Indiana University (Ph.D.)
Profession Academic Administrator

John William Ryan (August 12, 1929 – August 6, 2011)[1] was an American academic administrator who most notably served as the President of Indiana University for sixteen years.

Early life and career[edit]

Ryan was born in Chicago, Illinois and earned a B.A. from the University of Utah in 1951, where he was a 1950 initiate of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He earned master's and Ph.D. degrees from Indiana University in 1958 and 1959, respectively.[2] While in graduate school, Ryan served in two professional roles: First, as a research analyst in the Kentucky Department of Revenue, then in establishing the graduate public administration program at Thammasat University. After graduating, he taught political science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In 1962, he became executive assistant to the president of the University of Massachusetts Amherst before moving to Arizona State University at Tempe to assume the vice presidency for academic affairs. He returned East to serve as the first chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston in 1965.

Indiana University[edit]

In July 1968, Ryan returned to Indiana University to become vice president for regional campuses and became its fourteenth president on January 26, 1971. His 16 years of service to the university saw the establishment of two new IU campuses in New Albany (Indiana University Southeast) and in Richmond (Indiana University East), the formation of various cultural centers on the Bloomington campus, and the creation of the School of Journalism, the School of Continuing Studies, the School of Optometry, and the School of Public and Environmental Affairs.[3] Ryan retired in 1987 and was immediately appointed President Emeritus of Indiana University. He remained an active figure within the university, both as a professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and as a member of several boards and committees.[4]

On September 4, 2009, John Ryan was awarded the University Medal, IU's highest nonacademic award. According to an IU press release, "The University Medal honors individuals for singular or noteworthy contributions, including service to the university and achievement in arts, letters, science and law. It is the only medal that requires approval by the IU Board of Trustees. The presentation was a particularly special occasion, because it was Ryan who, as president, created the University Medal in 1982, bestowing it first on Thomas T. Solley, director of the IU Art Museum. Ryan is only the 10th person to receive the medal."[5]

In the 1979 movie classic Breaking Away he played the part as himself where the students are being lectured on their behavior at the dining hall where they fought the Cutters (a reference to stonecutters who worked in the limestone quarries in southern Indiana).

The State University of New York[edit]

After retiring from Indiana University, Ryan took on temporary administrative roles, acting as interim president at the University of Maryland at Baltimore and at Florida Atlantic University, and advising the Papua New Guinea Commission for Higher Education.

In 1996, Ryan stepped in to fill the Chancellorship of the State University of New York after his predecessor abruptly resigned.[6] He was asked to assume the full Chancellorship in 1997 [7] and stepped down at the end of 1999.[8]


  1. ^ "Former IU President John Ryan dies". WISHTV8. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  2. ^ "John W. Ryan Educator Irish 1998 Recipient". Ellis Island Medals of Honor. NECO. Retrieved 2008-05-04.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ "Remembering John Ryan". Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana). Archived from the original on 2011-08-15. Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  4. ^ "2008-09 IU Factbook" (PDF). Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-10. Retrieved 2009-05-31. 
  5. ^ "IU News Room". Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana). Retrieved 2011-08-07. 
  6. ^ Arenson, Karen W. (1996-07-02). "SUNY Board Chooses an Interim Chancellor". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-04 
  7. ^ Arenson, Karen W. (1997-04-10). "SUNY Seems Likely to Pick Interim Chief As Chancellor". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-04 
  8. ^ Arenson, Karen W. (1999-01-14). "SUNY's Chancellor Plans to Step Down". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-04 
Academic offices
Preceded by
Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Joseph Sutton
President of Indiana University
January 26, 1971 – August 31, 1987
Succeeded by
Thomas Ehrlich
Preceded by
Interim President of Florida Atlantic University
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Interim President of the University of Maryland at Baltimore
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Thomas A. Bartlett
Chancellor of the State University of New York
July 1, 1996 – April 20, 1997 (Interim)
April 21, 1997 – December 31, 1999
Succeeded by
Robert L. King