Howard S. Wilcox


IU Foundation President's Medallion (2002)
President's Medal for Excellence (1988)
Trustees Summer Seminar General Session
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Thomas Ehrlich
Distinguished Alumni Service Award (1983)
B.A., 1942


From his first day in Bloomington in the fall of 1938, Howard S. Wilcox had money on his mind. As a college student, like countless others before and after him, he never had enough of it. Working at the IU News Bureau, the Reserve Officer Training Corps, and even as a waiter in his own fraternity house, Wilcox, BA'42, did whatever was needed to earn more money.

In 1949, when he took over as executive director of the Indiana University Foundation, his job revolved around money — raising it, spending it, and convincing impressionable students that the Foundation would be worthy of their money long after they graduated. To better achieve this last goal, he created a Student Foundation Committee, made up of 36 of the campus's finest students. From February to April 1950, the committee, a precursor to the IU Student Foundation, spread the Foundation message to every corner of campus. But once that task was completed, they were unsure what to do next.

One day in May, Wilcox found a bicycle race in progress between the Hall's west and east wings — the six-day, 500-mile Hickory Hall "500." The Hickory riders never completed their marathon race, but another race began to take shape in Wilcox's mind. The idle Student Foundation Committee, he thought, could put their energies into a once-a-year, one-of-a-kind bicycle event, in the short term raising money for working students and building loyal Foundation followers for the long term.

He easily sold the committee on the idea in the fall of 1950, and on Jan. 20, 1951, Wilcox formally announced the creation of the first Little 500, to be held May 12 at Memorial Stadium. Although the times have changed since the race's founding, the purpose of Little 500 remains the same -- to raise scholarship money for working students. While different scholarships have different criteria, all of the scholarships are awarded in the spirit of helping students who help themselves, like Howard Wilcox.