The Indiana University School of Education has given its Distinguished Alumni Award to four leaders. Honorees include the founder of a human resources firm in Malaysia, a university social work dean and a Navajo Nation official. October 14, 2013

News Release

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Indiana University School of Education honored four of its alumni who have touched education across the world, the nation and the state of Indiana during the Distinguished Alumni Award banquet Oct. 12. The 37th annual IU School of Education Distinguished Alumni Awards honored individuals who hold a degree from the school and have made a lasting impact through their work.

This year’s honorees are Abdul Farouk Ahmed, founder and managing director of ICC Consultants, an organization effectiveness and human resources management firm with operations in both Malaysia and Australia; Maurice C. Daniels, dean and professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Georgia; David A. Lepkojus, a longtime teacher and administrator for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at Many Farms, Navajo Nation, Ariz.; and Victor A. Smith, a lifelong Hoosier educator and one of Indiana’s most visible and active advocates for public education.

“The four we honor this year as Distinguished Alumni Award recipients represent the broad range of ways our alumni touch education across the world,” said Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the IU School of Education. “From changing higher education in Malaysia, to promoting social change in the American South, to ensuring quality education for students on Native American reservations, and advocating for Indiana’s public schools, this group is remarkable for such collective achievement. Each has been a fierce advocate for educational achievement, and we are proud to honor them all.”

More about the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award honorees:

-Abdul Farouk Ahmed, MS ’79 (instructional systems technology), joined Malaysia’s Ministry of Education after earning his IU degree. His work resulted in ground-breaking reforms that fostered the development of private higher education institutions and greater autonomy for public higher education institutions. Ahmed has become a national spokesman in Malaysian higher education, promoting decentralization of management, greater investment for national development, increased international engagement with instructors and students, and improved faculty incentives for research productivity. These contributions have reshaped Malaysia’s educational landscape, turning it into a regional hub of higher education innovation. Ahmed served as a distinguished international alumnus on the IU Foundation’s International Affairs Advisory Board and has been president of Malaysia’s IU Alumni Chapter. In recognition of Ahmed’s many contributions, he was awarded the Thomas Hart Benton Medal by IU President Myles Brand in 1997.

-Maurice C. Daniels, EdD ’82 (higher education, with a BA ’72 in psychology at IU Bloomington and an MS ’75 in social service from the School of Social Work at IUPUI) is founder and director of the Foot Soldier Project for Civil Rights Studies and Research. He is the author of “Saving the Soul of Georgia: Donald L. Hollowell and the Struggle for Civil Rights” and “Horace T. Ward: Desegregation of the University of Georgia, Civil Rights Advocacy, and Jurisprudence.” Daniels is senior researcher and executive producer of a number of civil rights documentary films. He is the author of various scholarly articles and conference papers focusing on civil rights and social justice. Honored by his colleagues repeatedly for his achievements and service, in 2001 he was selected for the African American History and Social Justice Award by the Athens-Clarke County NAACP. In 2004, the State of Indiana 113th General Assembly adopted House Resolution 74, which recognized Daniels’ “accomplishments in the areas of civil and human rights and social justice.”

-David A. Lepkojus, BS ’74 (earth sciences) began his teaching career through the School of Education’s Native American Student Teaching Project. He completed his student teaching at Many Farms Junior High School on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona. In October 1974, Lepkojus was hired as a biology and environmental science teacher at Many Farms High School, where he inspired and led students over the next 38 years. During his career, Lepkojus received many awards for his teaching and administrative leadership from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Navajo Nation, including a citation from President Ronald Reagan for outstanding instruction in environmental studies. Innovative programs developed by Lepkojus, such as the Freshman Academy, The Computer Assisted Learning Center, The Alternative High School, The Saturday Academy and The Agricultural Farming Project, reduced drop-out rates, improved academic achievement, increased graduation rates, and improved educational and career opportunities for Native American students. Many Farms High School, under the guidance of Lepkojus, was one of only two Native American high schools in the U.S. to consistently make Adequate Yearly Progress under “No Child Left Behind.”

-Victor A. Smith, MS ’72, EdD ’77 (both in social studies education) is a lifelong Hoosier and one of Indiana’s most visible and active advocates for public education. Smith began teaching in 1969 and retired in 2009, but he has since been a volunteer advocate and consistent voice for public education in the Indiana Statehouse. In 2011, he co-founded the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, an advocacy group supporting public schools and opposing the privatization of public education. Smith has written over 150 editions of “Vic’s Statehouse Notes,” a free email on education issues in the Statehouse. Smith has been widely honored for his professional accomplishments and great contributions to education in the state of Indiana. His awards include the Indiana Council for Economic Education’s Senesh Award for School Administrators; the Geography Educators Network of Indiana’s Indiana Geography Teacher of the Year Award; the Special Service Award recognizing 20 years of service to the Indianapolis Public Schools’ multicultural infusion conference; the Association for Teacher Educators-Indiana’s Lifetime Service Award; the Indiana Council for Social Studies’ Special Service Award; and the Indiana University School Administration Association’s Contribution to Education Award.

The IU School of Education is one of the world's premier programs for preparing tomorrow's teachers, counselors, school psychologists, educational leaders, curriculum designers and educational scholars. Its mission is to improve teaching, learning and human development in a global, diverse, rapidly changing and increasingly technological society. It has more than 68,000 alumni, including more than 20 Indiana Teachers of the Year. U.S. News & World Report ranks the School 19th overall and 10th among education schools in public universities. Seven programs within the school are in the top 25 for specialty programs.

Source: Indiana University

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