Anne Szopa Scholarship recognizes faculty member’s development of Women’s and Gender Studies program, influence on campus

Anne Szopa was instrumental in developing the Women’s and Gender Studies and Sociology programs at Indiana University East. In recognition of her contributions and to encourage others to expand opportunities for students to study in this field, Rob and Nancy Tolley have endowed $30,000 to establish the Anne Szopa Scholarship.

Szopa, who passed away in November 2013, was an associate professor of sociology at IU East. Szopa and Rob Tolley were both faculty members in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Now retired, Tolley was a senior lecturer of Sociology and Anthropology. He started working part-time at IU East in 1979 and became a full-time faculty member in 1991. He retired in 2014. Nancy Tolley was a school psychologist at Cincinnati Public Schools and retired in 2012. They now live in Wyoming.

Rob and Nancy Tolley

“Nancy and I, along with our children Kathryn and Robert, have endowed the Anne Szopa Scholarship in recognition of her many contributions to IU East,” Tolley said. “We hope this scholarship will expand opportunities for students to pursue work in the many areas encompassed by the subject of Women and Gender Studies.”

Szopa was part of the IU East faculty from 1981 to 2006. She was instrumental in the development of Sociology, Behavioral and Social Sciences, and the Women and Gender Studies Program at IU East. She served as chair of the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and co-coordinator of the Women and Gender Studies Program. Szopa also helped to develop the B.S. in Behavioral and Social Sciences degree.

A lifelong resident of nearby Muncie, Indiana, Szopa earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from Ball State University. Prior to joining IU East, she was a member of the faculty at Ball State, where she also helped to add women’s studies to the program.

Colleagues remember Szopa for her contributions to education and to the department. IU East faculty members Joan Lafuze, Laverne Nishihara and Edwina Helton share in the Tolley’s recognition of Szopa’s efforts to enhance academic programs on campus, saying she had a passion for social justice, and women’s and gender studies.

“She was the ultimate teacher-learner. She shared through thoughtful conversation, not dictating opinions,” Helton said. “Anne had a gift for expanding understanding of the social aspects of gender, sexualities, and poverty. Her contagious enthusiasm inspired students and faculty alike. Inside and outside class, with peer faculty and student learners, she had a way of intensely listening that was a hallmark of her teaching style. Her students and colleagues recall and celebrate her social conscience, integrity, and humor.”

After joining the faculty at IU East, Tolley learned early on that those he worked with – including Szopa –supported students through their contributions to scholarships and programs.

“I have always admired fellow faculty for their support of IU East. It was always hard to keep up with colleagues like Anne Szopa, Jane Vincent, George Blakey, Paul Kriese, and Eleanor Turk, particularly in the way of philanthropy,” Tolley said. “I always felt I had to work pretty hard to keep up with Eleanor Turk’s expectations! I recall Paul Kriese mentioning that Eleanor originally hired him to teach one course as an adjunct. Eleanor hired me as a one-course adjunct about the same time. She was great to work for, she was very attentive to even the part time faculty members. Hopefully Paul and I have lived up to her confidence in us. Nancy and I have always supported the Eleanor Turk International Studies Scholarship, which provides resources for IU East students to travel and study abroad. It’s been a pleasure to work with colleagues who support the institution with such significant philanthropy.”

As a result, the Tolleys have long supported IU East students and programs. In July 2016, the Tolleys gave to the School of Humanities and Social Sciences to help fund an Archaeology Lab at IU East that will allow students to have hands-on training in archaeological methodology. Tolley also chaired or was a member of the Campus Campaign for many years. The Campus Campaign is a time of gift giving for faculty and staff to provide scholarships, make international travel possible, create internship opportunities, grow campus through capital investment and launch new programs and projects.

“Scholarships are critical for student success. Not just for the financial benefit, which is important. Students need to feel they are supported in all phases of their pursuits. As faculty we are called upon to place demands and challenges to our students. Scholarships supported by the IU East faculty show our students that we are with them through the whole process. With a scholarship in hand, the students know we’re behind them!”

Director of Gift Development Paula Kay King said Rob and Nancy Tolley have continued to remain supportive of student success and connected to the campus.

“Rob and Nancy remain as exemplary leaders in giving and support of higher education through their contributions toward scholarships and academic programs,” King said. “We thank Rob and Nancy for their generous contributions to IU East.”

The Tolleys have seen first-hand the value that student scholarships can provide not just professionally, but also personally. Both of their children received scholarships in their academic pursuits.

“Nancy and I are thrilled that we are able to support IU East students by endowing a scholarship in Anne Szopa’s name,” Tolley said. “Our children Robert and Kathryn received significant scholarship and fellowship support in their academic careers. Our family has a significant ‘student debt’ to repay. It’s the debt we owe as a result of the scholarships our children received in pursuit of their degrees. We don’t have any student loans to repay, so why not help IU East students with scholarships! We have a responsibility to see that IU East students have support in the pursuit of their dreams and degrees.”

Tolley added that the Indiana University Bicentennial Match offered through the For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign provides an excellent opportunity for the gift to be magnified in its impact.

“Nancy and I have endowed the Anne Szopa Scholarship not just because we can, but because we should,” Tolley said.

This gift will count toward the $2.5 billion campaign, For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign. IU East’s campaign goal is $7 million, which will help fund a variety of campus initiatives, student scholarships and strategic projects. Find out more about IU East and ways to assist the campus at

For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign is taking place on all IU-administered campuses including IU Bloomington, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, IU East, IU Kokomo, IU Northwest, IU South Bend, and IU Southeast. The campaign will conclude in December 2019 to coincide with IU’s bicentennial year celebration in 2020. To learn more about the campaign, its impact, and how to participate, please visit

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 $1.9 billion. In fiscal year 2016, IU received $360.9 million in support from the private sector. IU is consistently ranked among the top four of Big Ten universities in annual voluntary support.