It is hard to imagine Ilene Sheffer in retirement. Up until her last day at IU South Bend on December 30 she was a whirlwind of ideas, conversations, and meetings. In her 13 years as vice chancellor for University Advancement, she never slowed down. As a result, the campus is dotted with her legacy.
In her role as chief fundraiser, cheerleader, and ambassador, Dr. Sheffer played a part in the transformation of the campus from a commuter college to a traditional regional university. She helped with the building of the pedestrian bridge, the addition of student housing, the construction of the IU South Bend Elkhart Center, the establishment of the Civil Rights Heritage Center at the Natatorium, the remodeling of the Administration Building, the renovation of the Education and Arts Building, and the naming of the Judd Leighton School of Business and Economics and the Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences. In addition, there are countless endowments, scholarships, grants, equipment, and programs she helped create and support through private giving.
"She is a force to be reckoned with," said IU South Bend Chancellor Terry L. Allison. "I will forever appreciate the help she gave me as a new chancellor in meeting benefactors in the community and building the strong relationships that are in place today."
The scope of Ilene's success at IU South Bend is clear. When she arrived in 2003, the principal market value for IU South Bend fundraising accounts was $4.1 million. As she leaves this year, it is up to $13 million, and that doesn't include the millions of dollars in non-endowed funds.
However, Ilene did more than just raise money for the university. She was a mentor to many of her staff members over the years and provided career and personal advice. She also served on many community boards and was always willing to help others with their philanthropic endeavors.
"To me, it has always been about changing the world… albeit a small part of the world," said Sheffer. "IU South Bend gave me the opportunity to positively affect people and places. The campus in South Bend and the center in Elkhart look so different today compared to 2003. It is thrilling to have been part of this transformation."
Ilene will continue to help people and organizations raise money for good causes in her retirement but she will always be known for the impact she had at IU South Bend.