KOKOMO, Ind. — Two Indiana University Kokomo trailblazers recently were honored for their leadership, ingenuity and entrepreneurship as inductees to the Howard County Hall of Legends.
Herbert Miller prepared thousands of IU Kokomo students to live and work in a global society, during his more than 40 years on campus.
Kathleen Ligocki has climbed the CEO ladder, first in the automotive industry, then helping others succeed in business, after earning a liberal arts degree at IU Kokomo.
Both recently were recognized for their achievements, with induction into the Howard County Hall of Legends. They were among six former or current residents, all educators, entertainers, or entrepreneurs, selected as having had a lasting impact in the county and elsewhere.
The Class of 2016 also included optometry pioneer Dr. Irvin Borish, legendary Kokomo principal and superintendent C.V. Haworth, Grammy-nominated country music singer and producer Sylvia Hutton, and stage director, producer, and former president and executive director of the Billie Holiday Theater Marjorie Moon.
Ligocki, B.A. ‘78, said moving to Kokomo from Milwaukee at age 15 altered the trajectory of her life.
“It started for me an adventure,” she said. “I learned that I love new things. I’m the kind of person who likes to be parachuted into a new situation, and make things better.”
Joking that she studied “unemployable skills” at IU Kokomo – Chinese history and Renaissance art – she now uses her business acumen to help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into successful companies.
“I’m the kind of person who helps make their dreams a reality, and gets things done,” she said. “If you want dreamers, you might hire people from California. If you want patents, you might hire someone from M.I.T., but if you want to get something done, hire a Hoosier.”
Miller, 86, professor emeritus of international business, came to IU Kokomo in 1960, as the campus’ first full time African American faculty member, after traveling throughout Europe as an interpreter for U.S. Air Force intelligence service. He planned to stay in Kokomo a few years, before moving on, he said.
“I found out there is no place better than Kokomo, and Howard County, and Indiana University Kokomo,” he said. “Not just the geographic place, but the wonderful people who live here. After 50 years, I’m still here. ”
Ligocki is CEO of Agility Fuel Systems. She has served as vice president for automotive at United Technologies, vice president at Ford Motor Company, and CEO of Tower Automotive, Next Autoworks, and Harvest Power. She is also a director of Lear, a Fortune 200 automotive supplier, and a fiduciary board member of the IU Foundation. She is a member of the IU Kokomo Alumni Association Hall of Fame, and founded the Kathleen Ligocki International Travel Studies fund at IU Kokomo in 2008. She has received honorary degrees from IU Kokomo and Central Michigan University.
In addition to teaching multiple foreign languages at IU Kokomo, Miller served in several campus leadership positions, including chief executive officer and acting chancellor. He represented the U.S on international diplomatic missions, taught languages in Saudi Arabia, and later led international business classes. He was selected as a Sagamore of the Wabash in 2000, received the IU Kokomo Distinguished Service Award in 1993, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 2002 and the Chancelllor’s Medallion in 2016. He recently created the Dr. Herbert C. and Lillian M. Miller International Travel Scholarship.
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke was chair of the Legends selection committee, and said those chosen reflect a diverse community.
“We want to make sure Howard County is well represented when we choose Legends,” she said. “We want to choose Legends from all parts of our community.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.