Laurie Burns McRobbie

Dottie Frapwell Portrait Unveiling and Dedication


Good afternoon. It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the unveiling and dedication of the official IU portrait of our friend and colleague, Dottie Frapwell. We normally have these dedications in the IU Women’s Portrait Gallery in the IMU’s East Lounge, but Dottie has so many friends that we are holding this ceremony here! I hope you will all visit the Gallery after this ceremony.

I want to begin by welcoming IU President Michael McRobbie who has joined us this afternoon. And I want to extend a special welcome to Dottie’s sister, Elizabeth Evans, who is with us today. Please join me in greeting Elizabeth.
I also want to recognize someone who had as much to do with today’s event as Dottie herself – the artist whose work we will see shortly. Please join me in welcoming Ellen Starr Lyon, and her family, husband Art and children Finn and Odessa.


In 2014, thanks to the vision and support of Provost Lauren Robel and campus art curator Sherry Rouse, our wonderful portrait gallery of women of Indiana University was created and dedicated. Many of you have seen the portraits now hanging in the East Lounge of the IMU, a space that used to showcase the portraits of IU presidents. The renovation of President’s Hall in Franklin Hall opened up an ideal space for those presidential portraits, and in turn, created an ideal space to bring some new images into the public eye. IU has long had many portraits of women – alumnae, Trustees, faculty, staff, and others – and while some were hanging in various spots around this campus and other IU campuses, many more were stashed away in storage. With the East Lounge available, we suddenly had a space that could be used not just for a static display, as the presidential portraits are (and appropriately so), but as a continuously revolving and expanding exhibit that fills out more of the story of Indiana University.

Portraits serve as a unique way to tell stories, of the women depicted, of the time and place they made their mark on Indiana University, and of the artists who captured their images and personalities. And they serve as a medium for social exchange, between subject and artist, and between the image and the viewer. As Wendy Wick Reaves, Curator Emerita at the National Portrait Gallery, says, “…portraits reflect codes of deportment, social and political environments, and the visual rhetoric of their day.” Each one is a window into the history of IU. And by assembling these portraits of IU women, we are also filling in some gaps in the university’s historical record.

The portraits in the East Lounge depict women whose names you almost certainly know, like Elinor Ostrom, long-time Political Science faculty member, co-founder of the Ostrom Workshop and the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics; and Frances Marshall, the first African-American woman to graduate from IU, from the School of Nursing. But other faces and stories are not as well known, and the most recent addition to the gallery, up until today, a portrait of Mrs. Cressie Thomas Havens, is perhaps an example. A native of Kokomo and an alumna of IU, Mrs. Havens taught at Kokomo High School for many years. She passed away in 1957, having made a number of gifts to IU during her lifetime. Her dream, however, was to provide a public auditorium for her home city and in her will she specified that a part of her estate go toward the establishment of such a center. With the decision to construct a new IU Kokomo campus in the early 1960s, the means and the opportunity were joined. Havens Auditorium now stands as a testament to Cressie Havens’ generosity.

Havens Auditorium is also somewhat unusual, in that it bears the name of a woman donor and alumna. Women have been part of Indiana University for over 150 years, ever since Sarah Parke Morrison walked into her first class at IU. But we have not always been attentive to honoring the contributions that women have made to the life and spirit of IU, and to its excellence as an institution of higher learning.

Due in part to historical traditions around things like building namings, the preferences of individual women, and a degree of benign neglect, we don’t see the names or images of very many women memorialized on the campuses of Indiana University, despite their current majority status in the alumni community and in the student body.

With the university’s bicentennial approaching (I believe the countdown clock stands at 63 days, right, Michael?), we now have a wonderful opportunity to close this visibility gap, and to bring more stories of Hoosier women into the light. Portraits are one way for us to do this, and through the way the women in these portraits look out at us, we are invited into their stories.

And today, we are invited into Dottie Frapwell’s story.


Dottie is of course very well-known and much beloved by all of you and so many more who couldn’t be here today, and I could detail her extensive and deeply impactful contributions to IU and Bloomington for the rest of the afternoon. I am, however, going to leave Lauren the challenge of talking about those, and just speak personally, as Dottie became an instant and enduring friend when I moved to Bloomington in 2005. We had actually met before that and even traveled together. Dottie — along with Heidi and Barry Gealt and Dave and Terry Baer — was with Michael and me on a highly consequential trip to Venice in the fall of 2004, where we got engaged.

Mutual interests in travel, food, clothes and Paris virtually assured that we would get along, but before we met, Michael had warned me that Dottie could be formidable, and that she had this habit of lowering her glasses and directing an intimidating stare at some poor, hapless colleague (apparently, at times, him!). I wasn’t too worried, knowing that Dottie and I also had a mutual interest in strong women! And of course, we bonded almost instantly.

Dottie was my shopping advisor when Michael and I took our honeymoon trip to Paris (much to the delight of my credit card company), my community engagement advisor when I was trying to figure out where to put my energies, my historical guide to the traditions and relationships that abound at IU, and my culinary advisor at many a wonderful meal, including two Thanksgiving dinners. And Dottie has been my hero for the last 14 years as she has gracefully dealt with an illness that threatened to cut short a beautiful, well-lived existence and for me, what has become a treasured friendship.


It is now my great pleasure to welcome to the podium, Lauren Robel, Executive Vice President of Indiana University and Provost of the Bloomington campus. Please join me in welcoming Provost Robel.


We now come to the central moment in today’s dedication ceremony, the unveiling of Dottie’s portrait. I’d like to invite our honoree to the podium to assist with the unveiling.


I’d now like to invite Dottie Frapwell to the podium to share her remarks.


And so we have come to the close of this wonderful occasion. I want to thank Sherry Rouse for her vision and energy in curating the Women’s Portrait Exhibit, which I hope you will all take time to visit before you leave the building this afternoon. Sherry and her team will be available for short tours and questions about the portraits. My thanks also go to the staff who organized today’s event. Please join us for a reception to celebrate the significance of Dottie’s career and the lasting legacy she has created at Indiana University.

Thank you again for being here today.