The gift establishes the Kathleen Ligocki Scholars Program, which creates a cohort of Indiana University Kokomo students who not only receive financial assistance, but also can access academic and social support from one another and from program staff and faculty.
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke announced the gift on Friday (March 30). Ligocki, CEO of Agility Fuel Systems, established the scholarship fund that will benefit qualifying incoming freshmen, and will be renewable for up to four years to those who remain in good academic standing and maintain full-time enrollment.
Sciame-Giesecke thanked Ligocki, B. A. ’78, for the gift, noting that it will impact students for years into the future.
“For someone who has achieved such great success to look back and bring her local community forward is very special,” said Sciame-Giesecke. “Kathleen has never forgotten her roots, and has always prized the education she received on our campus. With her gift, she will be able to give back to hundreds of students, who will walk the same hallways. We are thankful for her generosity.”
Ligocki said her gift to IU Kokomo was inspired by her own emotional connection to the campus, and her belief in how it can impact lives.
“When you look at a regional campus, a lot of students are first-generation college students, or they are working full time and going to school full time,” she said. “For a lot of students, it’s a generational change in terms of opportunities. Suddenly, a generation has a set of choices in front of them that are made broader through college education.
“Making that possible for people is one of the greatest strengths of IU, with the regional campus network it has. Supporting those campuses is an important part of Hoosier education,” she said.
As she’s advanced in her career, Ligocki has supported IU Kokomo generously, founding the Kathleen Ligocki International Travel Studies program and the Social Entrepreneurship Exploration (S.E.E.) program.
“This is yet another example of Kathleen Ligocki’s remarkable and enduring service to Indiana University and, specifically, to our Kokomo campus,” said Daniel C. Smith, president and CEO of the IU Foundation. “As a distinguished alumna, Kathleen inspires our students through her career successes, her volunteerism, and her philanthropy. Her generous support continues to demonstrate her confidence that future generations of IU Kokomo students will go out and make a positive difference in their communities.”
Beginning her career as a line foreman at a GM plant in Kokomo, Ligocki has been a trailblazer in multiple industries. She moved up the ranks first at General Motors, then at Ford Motor Company, where she was a vice president. She’s been CEO for Tower Automotive, GS Motors, and Next Autoworks as well, and later was a leader in the green energy industry, as CEO of Harvest Power, which recycled organic waste into clean energy and products.
In addition to her Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies from IU Kokomo, she earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, and received honorary doctorates from IU Kokomo and Central Michigan University.
She has been recognized as a member of the IU Kokomo Alumni Association Hall of Fame, was named one of Automotive News’ 100 Leading Women in the Auto Industry in 2005, and is a fiduciary board member of the IU Foundation.
The gift counts toward the $3 billion campaign, For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign, and will receive a campaign match, effectively doubling its impact.
For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign is taking place on all IU-administered campuses including IU Bloomington, IUPUI, IU East, IU Kokomo, IU Northwest, IU South Bend and IU Southeast. The campaign will conclude in June 2020 to coincide with IU’s bicentennial year celebration. To learn more about the campaign, its impact and how to participate, visit forall.iu.edu.
Founded in 1936, the Indiana University Foundation maximizes private support for Indiana University by fostering lifelong relationships with key stakeholders and providing advancement leadership and fundraising services for campuses and units across the university. Today, the IU Foundation oversees one of the largest public university endowments in the country, with a market value in excess of $2 billion. IU is consistently ranked among the top four of Big Ten universities in annual voluntary support.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.