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Bennion presented with Roland Kelly Award during MLK Jr. event

Community Engagement News Release Jan 16, 2024

A member of the Indiana University South Bend faculty was honored with the Roland Kelly Award during the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Recognition Breakfast.

Dr. Elizabeth Bennion is a chancellor’s professor of political science and director of community engagement for the campus.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation of St. Joseph County established the Roland Kelly Award in 2009 to honor one of its founders and long-term board members. It recognizes a South Bend citizen who exemplifies the ideals and actions that guided Kelly’s life.

Bennion was recognized by the selection committee for her dedication to community ideals through the promotion of “diversity, love and respect for all humanity.” Members noted her active engagement with citizens participating in the election process.

“Dr. Bennion has demonstrated a strong and dedicated commitment to ensure that all of the public, regardless of political party, are educated on the issues presented by candidates,” said Gladys Muhammad, president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation. “She is very inclusive and respectful of all diverse opinions when putting together her programs.”

Bennion was nominated by five different community leaders for the 2024 award.

“She exhibits many of the qualities and actions that Roland Kelly lived his life by and his dedication to the mission of the MLK Foundation,” Muhammad said.

As head of the office of community engagement for IU South Bend, Bennion is responsible for supporting, promoting, tracking and celebrating community-engaged teaching, research, service and partnerships in the region.

“Elizabeth works tirelessly to foster relationships between our campus and the community. Those efforts not only enhance the learning experience for our students, but have a positive impact on the entire region,” said IU South Bend Chancellor Susan Elrod.

Bennion is also founding director of IU South Bend’s American Democracy Project, director of voter services and education for the League of Women Voters of the South Bend Area and host of WNIT-TV’s Politically Speaking program. She is an active member of the Indiana Debate Commission which hosts Indiana’s televised governor and U.S. Senate debates.

“It is a pleasure and a privilege to do work that promotes an informed and engaged electorate. It is humbling to receive this award given the many committed and courageous leaders in our community. The recipient is recognized for their dedication to the community through ‘the promotion of diversity, love, and respect for all humanity.’ I see this as an opportunity to recommit myself to these goals and rededicate myself to this work,” Bennion said.

The state of Indiana outlined on a blue field IU 2030: Service to Our State and Beyond

IU South Bend will improve the lives of the people and economic vitality of Indiana and beyond through timely education, research, innovation, economic development, community service and engagement.

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