Dennis Bland, '92 and Gerald Bepko Honored During Alumni Event
Dennis E. Bland, '92, President of the Center for Leadership Development
Dennis E. Bland, ’92 was the 2004 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Service Award. Bland has served as president of the nonprofit Center for Leadership Development (CLD) since March 2000. Prior to his appointment as president of the organization devoted to empowering African-American youth to excel, Bland had served as a volunteer and program facilitator with CLD for 13 years. His volunteer work with the organization earned him the law school’s Community Service Award in 1992. Earlier this spring, he received the inaugural Henry J. Richardson, Jr., ’28 Award from the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA).
Bland says of his work, “I believe that youth, properly nurtured and developed, can be empowered to overcome life’s challenges and thrive in education and career.” He credits his faith as well as his legal education with preparing him to help others in his work. “As I look back over my life and think back over my different experiences at CLD, I can see how I was being groomed all along, “says Bland. “All along, I have been helped so that I could in turn help somebody else.” Of his time at the law school he says, “My legal education has helped me immensely. I am convinced that there really is something substantive and meaningful to being able to ‘think like a lawyer.’ The ability to formulate and analyze issues, conduct research, and thoroughly think though issues from varying sides has been extremely helpful to me. I often joke that we have to be one of the smallest non-profits in existence that has in-house counsel. My law degree continues to pay handsome returns.” During his speech to alumni he summed up his attitude toward his mission in life by citing a traditional gospel song, a song often quoted by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “If I can help somebody as I pass along If I can cheer somebody with a word or a song If I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong Then my living will not be in vain…”
Bland serves on the boards of the Indiana Black Expo Economic Development Corporation and the Indianapolis Arts Council. His many accomplishments include receiving a Mayor’s Community Volunteerism Award in 1998; recognition in 2003 by the Indianapolis Star as part of the “New Generation of Black Leadership;” and being chosen as one of the “Top Forty Under 40” by the Indianapolis Business Journal in February, 2004.
Gerald L. Bepko IUPUI Chancellor Emeritus, IU Trustee Professor and Professor of Law
The Alumni Association honored Gerald L. Bepko on April 17th by making him an “Honorary Alumnus” of the law school where he was dean from 1981-1986 and where he has taught since 1972. Bepko is also Chancellor Emeritus of IUPUI (having served as Chancellor from 1986 to 2002, during which time he was also as IU Vice President for Long-Range Planning). Before returning to the law school to teach commercial law full-time, he served as interim President of Indiana University for seven months.
Bepko joked that he was “flattered to be made an honorary alumnus, but that it does not seem unreasonable to be made a member of the alumni body since I have spent 32 years studying law in the school while the other alumni had spent only three or four years.” On a serious note, Bepko says the award is very meaningful to him not only because he has been a part of the law school for so many years, but also because he has worked to support it even while working in the university administration. The law school is important to both the university as a whole and to the State of Indiana. “Its location makes it a symbolic and actual gateway to the university and it enrolls many of our best who are from or have earned undergraduate degrees in Indiana, “ says Bepko. “It is the most prominent example of why we say, ‘The future is here.’”