Grassroots Patrons of IU East

Grassroots Patrons of IU East

On October 16, 1974, the Pioneer Press (v. 2, no. 3) noted that work was “nearly 99% done on the new IU East campus. All that is left is to install the bookshelves in the library and bookstore and sort out some carpeting issues.” (The first building would not be called Whitewater Hall until 1992). Within 3 months, students would be using the new classrooms, faculty and staff would be set up in their new offices, and everyone would be walking past the wall opposite the administrative offices displaying glossy white tiles with little black marks across the middle of them and a plaque at the top that reads “Grassroots Patrons.”

From afar these more than 800 tiles all look the same. However, upon closer inspection, the little black marks are names and each one is different. These are the names of individuals, businesses, and groups who helped make the IU East campus a reality, some even “by giving a dollar a week for three years to the IU East building fund.”

Each donor’s signature was written on a 3×5 card and then transferred to a tile exactly as it was written. This is why some names appear at an angle and others are not very legible. Some contributors wished that their donations be anonymous, and one even wished to use a fictitious name. One done simply wrote “Eric” on their card. The sincere wishes of these donors were granted. Depicted here are just a few of the more than 800 individuals who helped make IU East a reality.

Byron Klute was Richmond’s youngest mayor in history. Within just a few months of being elected mayor, Klute saw the rebuilding of downtown Richmond after the gas explosion of 1968. His time as mayor also coincided with the development of the IU East campus at the current location of 2325 Chester Blvd. Elsie Klute, Byron’s wife, had poems published in the 2011-2012 IU East Tributaries.  

Paul Lacey, an English professor at Earlham, was acting president of Earlham during the 1973-74 school year and was previously its provost for three years.

Erik and Margaret Ann “Peggy” Grohsmeyer are the children of the late Frederick Grohsmeyer. Fred Grohsmeyer was the director of the Eastern Indiana Center of Earlham College from 1969 to 1975 and was director when the IU Board of Trustees established IU East as one of seven regional campuses on July 1, 1971.

In business from 1890 to July 1973, Richmond’s own Miller Brothers Hardware Company was one of the largest wholesale hardware firms in the country. After three building expansions, the Miller Brothers Hardware Company building took up almost an entire city block.  

Have you heard someone refer to Richmond as the “Rose City?” In 1893, the newly incorporated business E. G. Hill Company was leading the way as one of the nation’s premier rose growers accounting for millions of roses sold throughout the world. The founder, E. G. Hill was a rose hybridizer who introduced the world to countless roses and was a member of the committee in charge of the Flower Show at the World’s Fair in St. Louis, Mo.

The Richmond Rotary Club was started on Feb. 27, 1917, just a little over a month before the United States would enter WWI. Former presidents of the Richmond Rotary Club include IU East first director Fred Grohsmeyer and IU East Professor Emeritus Paul Kriese.

“A dollar a week for three years” helped put the building blocks in place to make IU East what it is now. In 50 years, IU East has grown from one building holding offices, classrooms, library, and bookstore to five buildings to meet the needs of more than 4,000 students. The next time you are in Whitewater Hall, take a moment to look at the names of many who helped the IU East campus become a reality.

Looking for more history about IU East? The IU East Campus History Course “is designed to provide an overview of IU East’s campus history and the opportunity to learn about the different aspects of a developing campus.” Listen to oral histories by current and former students, faculty, and staff as they talk about their time spent at IU East. Interested in sharing your stories about experiences at IU East? Contact IU Archivist Beth South or Assistant Archivist Jesse Whitton at

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