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Upcoming events

Richard M. Fairbanks Symposium on Civic Leadership

Building Vibrant Cities Through Greenspaces and Parks

Although it has garnered the most attention for its sports strategy, Indianapolis has a long tradition of green initiatives that go back to the 1970s. During the free one-day event, attendees will converse with community leaders about why parks and greenspaces are vital to attractive, innovative and vibrant cities. Event highlights include an INconversation with Just Garrett Moore of the NYC Public Design Commission and Neelay Bhatt of the National Recreation and Parks Association and a discussion of national trends shaping the future of urban greenspaces. The lunch session is sold out. Grab a spot on the waitlist or join us for the afternoon sessions!

Past events

Below you'll find summaries of our past events to give you an idea of the types of leaders we bring to campus and the topics they present.

Richard M. Fairbanks Symposium on Civic Leadership

Sports Strategies for the 21st Century: If you build it, they will come. 

On April 1, 2015, Mayor Greg Ballard of IndianapolisMayor Mick Cornett of Oklahoma CityInternational Sports Executive Mark Miles, and Indiana Sports Corp President Ryan Vaughn came together to discuss how current and emerging sports strategies help provide growth and civic engagement. The conversation was moderated by Dr. Edward Frantz, associate professor of history at UIndy and director of its Institute for Civic Leadership & Mayoral Archives.

Inaugural Richard M. Fairbank Symposium on Civic Leadership 

In October 2013, two of Indiana’s most respected voices in Washington, Richard Lugar and Lee Hamiltonjoined national, regional and local experts to discuss a wide range of experiences during the inaugural symposium, which focused on the politics of civility. The two-day event included a panel discussion on Syria; a roundtable discussion with three recently elected Indiana mayors, all younger than 35; an overview of the long legacy of incivility in politics; a conversation with four former deputy mayors of Indianapolis; and a keynote discussion between former Indianapolis mayor Richard Lugar and current South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg. 

On October 8 and 9, 2013, The Institute for Civic Leadership and Mayoral Archives hosted the inaugural Richard M. Fairbanks Symposium on Civic Leadership on the UIndy campus. The event was made possible by the generosity of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation. More than 440 participants attended the two-day conference, which was co-organized with Indiana Humanities. Faculty and students from UIndy, scholars from Washington, D.C. and Oklahoma, politicians, and community leaders were among those who participated in several discussions promoting the politics of civility, which was the topic for the symposium.

The Great Debate: Is Action in Syria America’s Least Bad Option?

The Symposium began with a foreign policy panel discussion in which Senator Richard Lugar joined policy experts Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute, Joshua Landis of the Syrian Studies Association, and Robert Zarate of the Foreign Policy Initiative for a spirited discussion of America’s role in the future of Syria. This event, moderated by veteran congressman, Lee Hamilton, examined whether the United States ought  to intervene in Syria’s domestic affairs, looking at the issue from humanitarian and economic perspectives. Senator Lugar stressed that the “the future might not be a single state in Syria.” The potential ramifications for U.S. relations in the rest of the Middle Eastern nations were also discussed. Although each panelists’ perspective varied accordingly, the event increased understanding and awareness about the background and current state of U.S. relations, both with Syria and the Middle East on the whole, by bringing together participants and experts in the realm of foreign policy.

'Young Guns' roundtable discussion

The Symposium reconvened the next day with a discussion among three Indiana mayors all under the age of 35. Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson moderated a talk with three recently elected mayors: South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, LaPorte mayor Blair Milo and Frankfort mayor Chris McBarnes. These mayors shared some of the challenges they have faced as young elected officials and emphasized the importance of civic leadership as a pathway to change.

Debunking the Civility Myth

Historians A. James Fuller (University of Indianapolis) and Ray Boomhower (Indiana Historical Society) provided historical background on the legacy of incivility in American politics. Fuller began the session by discussing Governor Oliver P. Morton’s uncivil dealings with rebels in Indiana. Boomhower followed with an overview of the 1888 presidential election, depicting how barbaric electoral politics are not merely a current development.

Behind the Scenes of City Government

Local Indianapolis community leaders came together in the third session, moderated by former Deputy Mayor Melina Kennedy, to talk about how city government actually works. This session featured deputy mayors from the four most recent Indianapolis mayoral administrations: Michael Huber, Mike O'Connor, Anne Shane and Dave Frick.

Keynote conversation: Richard Lugar & Pete Buttigieg

The Fairbanks Symposium culminated with the keynote conversation between Senator Lugar (also former Indianapolis mayor) and South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg. Although the two are separated by geography and party, Buttigieg and Lugar share a number of striking similarities: both were high school valedictorians and Rhodes scholars; Lugar served his country in the Navy and Buttigieg serves in the Navy; and, of course, both became mayors well before the age of 40. Lugar discussed some monumental historic events during his time as mayor of Indianapolis from 1967-1976. Among these was the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement in Indianapolis and the government consolidation, or Unigov, of Indianapolis and Marion County. In both instances, Lugar emphasized the importance of civility to deal with the challenges wrought by partisan politics. Lugar noted that after the state legislature passed the Unigov bill, the Republicans were “celebrating but still compromising.” Mayor Buttigieg also discussed his time as mayor and cited his studies in the Humanities as his greatest asset during his time in public office. Buttigieg stated that “reading got me everything good in life” and he emphasized its importance for anyone who makes both public and private decisions.

Building Heartland Cities

This past spring, the Institute hosted "Building Heartland Cities," a public discussion on revitalizing urban environments for the twenty-first century featuring former Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut and current mayors Karl Dean of Nashville, Tenn., and Michael Coleman of Columbus, Ohio.

On April 2, 2013, the Institute hosted a memorable conversation entitled “Building Heartland Cities,” in conjunction with Indiana Humanities and the National League of Cities. More than 350 people attended the evening discussion, with more than 50 attending an intimate reception prior to the conversation. Faculty and students from UIndy, former deputy mayors, University officials, politicians, and a number of other community leaders were among those who attended and participated in a discussion on building a viable twenty-first century city.

The event featured former Indianapolis mayor Bill Hudnut and two current mayors, Karl Dean of Nashville, Tenn., and Michael Coleman of Columbus, Ohio, who participated in a spirited discussion moderated by Carolyn Coleman, director of federal relations at the National League of Cities and former deputy mayor of Indianapolis. The three mayors spoke of their roles in building livable Midwestern cities that have the ability to compete with their eastern and western counterparts.

Both Indianapolis and Nashville have made strategic decisions over the past three decades that helped them grow while other Midwestern cities stagnated, a process that has required vision and innovation. Mayor Dean cited Nashville’s artistic musical scene as a contributing factor to the city’s success, while Hudnut looked to Indianapolis’ reputation as the amateur sports capital of the world, culminating with the city hosting the 2012 Super Bowl, as a vital tool to leverage economic development in the community. With Coleman, these two leaders discussed the importance of education, tourism, transportation, public and private investment and other factors in a city’s vitality. Overall, the three mayors looked to a successful mass transportation system as needing the most improvement in their cities so that these Midwestern regions may continue to prosper throughout the twenty-first century. Mayor Coleman concluded the event by summing up the universal goal of these three mayors, “to transform from a good city to a great city.”

Five Mayors: An Evening of Insight & Vision

The Institute's inaugural event, “Five Mayors: An Evening of Insight and Vision,” brought four former mayors of Indianapolis together with current Mayor Greg Ballard to analyze the city’s rich history and address the challenges that it faces in the future. See highlights from the Institute's inaugural "Five Mayors" event, or watch the full two-hour conversation.