Scholarships Inspire Former Student-Athlete Support
Blackwell creates opportunities for future Sycamores
Sycamore Athletic Fund
“Receiving a degree from Indiana State University has opened so many doors and opportunities for me that giving back is the right thing to do,” said Mike Blackwell, a 1971 ISU graduate and current volunteer board member of the Sycamore Athletic Foundation.
During his time as a student at Indiana State, Mike was a dual sport athlete in football and baseball. He was also involved in many campus activities and organizations, including the Blue Berets, the tandem race, and Alpha Tau Omega.
His campus involvement surrounded Mike with influential and positive role models. These personal relationships Mike developed greatly influenced him to not only get a degree in mathematics, but also pursue new opportunities.
“One of my mathematics professors, Tom Pitts, was a great mentor to me. He knew that I was particularly focused on athletics, but he influenced me to get a degree in math, which opened many doors in my lifetime,” said Mike.
ISU faculty also inspired Mike to apply his learning beyond the traditional classroom setting.
“Dr. John Cleveland was a geology professor at Indiana State who made science exciting. I couldn’t believe that I enjoyed going to school to learn something. He triggered something in me that made things happen. He made me look down the road and visualize what I wanted to do.”
Mike credits his student-athlete experience for his professional and personal successes. He is now the president of MOCO, Inc. (Mississippi Oil Company) in the Jackson, Mississippi area.
He was afforded all the benefits of athletic and co-curricular programs because of the scholarship support he received from the university. Through his athletic ability and his high school achievements, Mike was awarded a football scholarship from ISU.
“Fortunately, the scholarships enabled us to be free of debt after graduation,” stated Mike.
His wife, Mary, ’70, was awarded a scholarship from the Bayh College of Education.
“Giving back to the university allows other students to go to school with the same opportunities as Mary and I. We knew when we graduated that we wanted to pay back the university for what it had done for us.”
Mike and Mary established the Blackwell Scholars Endowment with the ISU Foundation in 2005. This endowment annually supports geology, the Bayh College of Education and Alpha Tau Omega students, as well as scholar-athletes in the ISU baseball program.
The endowment is a permanent way that Mike and Mary support ISU students. It ensures students are not only able to receive a quality education, but also pursue opportunities and activities that will greatly enhance their experience at Indiana State without incurring additional education loans. Endowments benefitting student-athletes are valuable to ISU Athletics. Funds, like the Blackwell Endowment, allow the athletic department to recruit top student-athletes by providing necessary scholarship dollars.
The Blackwells have generously supported ISU for the past 27 years by making gifts to more than 16 different university funds and initiatives. Their philanthropic support ranges from Sycamore Athletics to campus facility projects, including the renovation of Bob Warn Field at Sycamore Stadium and Federal Hall.
“My wife and I both agree that we were put on this earth to help other people. Giving back is nothing special; it [ISU] is just a part of our lives.”