Ivy Tech Kokomo presents honorary degrees to three healthcare leaders

Last Updated on May 20, 2022 by Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Service Area

Honorary degree recipients Margie Johnson, Joe Hooper and Perry Gay are flanked by Ivy Tech Kokomo Trustee Vicki Byrd and Interim Chancellor Ethan Heicher.

KOKOMO, Ind. — Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Service Area presented three honorary degrees to outstanding contributors to the College and area communities at its 2022 commencement ceremony May 13. The presentation honored the leaders of three major hospitals in the service area and, by extension, their employees.

Those receiving honorary Associate of Science in College and Community Service were Perry Gay, president and chief executive officer of Logansport Memorial Hospital; Joe Hooper, recently retired president of Community Howard Regional Health; and Margie Johnson, president of Ascension St. Vincent North Region, including Ascension St. Vincent Kokomo.

“Under the leadership of these individuals, all three institutions have been vital, long-term partners in educating and training Ivy Tech students for a variety of healthcare positions,” said Ivy Tech Kokomo Interim Chancellor Ethan Heicher.

“All three have been generous donors to the College in support of our students. And,” Heicher continued, “in the last two years, these leaders, and their dedicated teams, have offered above-and-beyond contributions to their communities as we fought through the coronavirus pandemic.

“They have led the way in responding to waves of patients who filled their hospitals, promoting the latest guidance to help us avoid infection, and providing the tests and vaccines that minimize the virus’s spread. They have stepped up to meet unprecedented challenges – service we honor in the conferring of these degrees.”

The degrees were presented during the first of three commencement ceremonies on the Ivy Tech Kokomo Campus. The Class of 2022 included 784 students who are expected to have completed work on 1,227 degrees and certificates by the end of the Fall 2021 and Spring and Summer 2022 terms.

Perry Gay

Perry Gay
Perry Gay

Perry Gay has served as president and chief executive officer of Logansport Memorial Hospital since 2015. He is known as a visionary and strategic executive with a unique blend of fiscal, operational and administrative experience. He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from St. Leo University in St. Leo, Fla.

Under his leadership, Logansport Memorial has experienced significant growth and expansion throughout the region. Three new service lines – Wound Care, Cancer Care, and Sports Medicine – have been added to the hospital’s offerings for the north central Indiana communities it serves. Recently completed renovations and upgrades to the hospital’s Obstetrics unit and Mammography suite have produced state-of-the-art facility spaces that accommodate patients from across the region.

When Cass County became a COVID-19 hotspot in the early stages of the pandemic, Gay led the hospital’s Incident Command Team’s response throughout the facility with collaboration and clinical insight from the physicians and frontline staff. LMH also mobilized a community-wide response to COVID-19 by initiating a weekly Community Conference Call with state and local government representatives, other local organizations and fellow non-profit partners to share updates about how the rapidly evolving global pandemic was affecting Cass County.

Logansport Memorial Hospital partners with Ivy Tech in continuing education for its employees through the College’s Achieve Your Degree program, offers a variety of clinical experiences for Ivy Tech students, supports all Ivy Tech scholarship fundraisers in Logansport and provided a substantial donation to help fund the new Health Professions Center on the Kokomo Campus. Logansport Memorial Hospital staff participate in several committees on campus and Vicki Byrd, the hospital’s vice president of planning and development, serves on the Ivy Tech Kokomo regional board of trustees.

“Working closely with Ivy Tech faculty and staff to support the students pursuing careers in health professions is a priority for us,” Gay said. “Ivy Tech’s Logansport and Kokomo campuses are valuable resources in helping to grow our workforce, both by adding new graduates as employees and by offering continuing education or new educational opportunities to existing employees. We are grateful for their presence in our community.”

Joe Hooper

Joe Hooper
Joe Hooper

Joe Hooper joined Community Howard as president in December 2014 and retired in December 2021 after 37 years in healthcare management. He received a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Wright State University and a Master of Healthcare Administration from The Ohio State University.

His service to Ivy Tech Kokomo is extensive. Hooper served on #THETIMEISNOW campaign steering committee and supported the hospital’s generous gift that funded the Community Howard Regional Health Student Commons in the new Health Professions Center. Located between the building’s spacious atrium and the Hingst Hall community room, the commons is used for student group collaboration and activities as well as many other internal and external gatherings.

“Many of our staff come to us from the health professions programs at Ivy Tech,” Hooper said. “We felt it is important for Community Howard Regional Health to support this beautiful new facility and advance these programs.

Along with providing clinical training support for hundreds of Ivy Tech students through the years, Community Howard has established scholarships for Nursing and Healthcare students and hospital leadership regularly participate as sponsors of Ivy Tech’s annual “Doing the Dream” event honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as our “Celebration for Student Success” scholarship fundraisers.

During the pandemic, Community Howard Regional Health had to quickly pivot to create additional critical care beds and isolation rooms equipped with negative airflow. From the first COVID-19 positive patient admitted in 2020, it would be almost exactly two years until March 2022 when the hospital went a full 24 hours without at least one COVID-19 patient.

Hooper also has served as chairman of the board of the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance and been active in many community organizations. His achievements at Community Howard include overseeing numerous infrastructure and remodeling projects within the hospital, including the addition of a new imaging center; the introduction of upgraded technologies, including robotic-guided surgery systems; and the expansion of specialty and primary care services through the recruitment of dozens of new physicians and advanced practice providers.

Margie Johnson

Margie Johnson
Margie Johnson

Margie Johnson served in a variety of roles in her tenure with Ascension St. Vincent Hospital, including executive director of quality, risk and medical affairs and director of regulatory compliance, before being named regional president for the North Region of Ascension St. Vincent. In this role, Johnson has responsibility for Ascension St. Vincent hospitals and outpatient services in Kokomo, Anderson, Carmel and Fishers. Her many accomplishments with the healthcare ministry have included developing the first robotic surgery program, establishing hospitalist and telemedicine services, and in 2019, overseeing a $12 million capital expansion of oncology, women’s and imaging technologies and programming.

Johnson served as incident commander for St. Vincent Kokomo and the North Region during the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, St. Vincent Kokomo opened one of the first vaccine clinics, participated in COVID-19 clinical trials and established one of four infusion clinics in Ascension Indiana in the fight against the virus. Johnson proudly notes the courage, strength and dedication of the entire healthcare team who served so faithfully through those most difficult times.

Johnson’s many contributions to the Kokomo and Howard County community include service on the boards of the United Way and the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance. She was honored with the Howard County Business Person of the Year award in 2019.

At Ivy Tech Kokomo, Johnson served on #THETIMEISNOW campaign steering committee that raised $3 million in local support to complete the campus’s $43 million transformation. As part of that campaign, Ascension St. Vincent provided a generous donation to fund the Medical Assisting Classroom and Laboratory in the new Health Professions Center. The hospital also has established a scholarship for Nursing students and regularly supports Ivy Tech Kokomo’s “Doing the Dream” initiative and “Celebration for Student Success” scholarship event.

Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana Wesleyan University and an MBA from Western Governors University. She is proud to serve in a ministry committed to carrying on the legacy The Sisters of St. Joseph who opened the Kokomo hospital more than 150 years ago to “serve their dear neighbors.”

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns to the needs of the community. The College provides seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a Bachelor’s degree.

Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Service Area serves Cass, Fulton, Howard, Miami, Pulaski and Tipton counties, including the communities of Kokomo, Logansport, Peru, Rochester, Tipton and Winamac.