Ellen Rome Ehrlich


Bicentennial Medal (2019)
University Medal (2013)
Presenter: Michael McRobbie
Honorary Degree (1994)
Doctor of Humane Letters
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Thomas Ehrlich
Gertrude Rich Award (1994)
Indiana University Bloomington
IU East Chancellor's Medallion (1994)
IU East Chancellor's Medallion
Location: Richmond
Presenter: Charlie Nelms


Ellen Ehrlich arrived in Bloomington with her husband, Tom, when he became the fifteenth president of Indiana University in 1987. From the first months of her stay in Indiana, she made it clear that she was going to use her boundless energy for more than the expected "first-lady" social activities. She became a member of Dialogue Today, an Indianapolis organization of fifty African American women and fifty Jewish women. She became a board member of the IU Hillel Foundation, a board member of Monroe County Junior Achievement, and a member of the IU Women's Advisory Council. In 1989, she was appointed by Governor Evan Bayh to the Indiana Adult Literacy Coalition. She also served for several years as a trustee of Radcliffe College, her alma mater.

In Bloomington, Mrs. Ehrlich's inspiring volunteer service to United Way of Monroe County has earned great praise. She chaired the United Way of Monroe County 1989 campaign and co-chaired the 1990 campaign. She founded the United Way Vanguard leadership giving program and has been a Vanguard division chair since 1990. In 1992, Mrs. Ehrlich was elected to the fifteen-member national board, United Way of America; she is one of the three representatives to United Way of America from the ten-state mid-America region. For her service to United Way, she received the Mary Alice Gray Memorial Award in 1994. In praising her on that occasion, United Way leader Jean Cook said, "I can't think of anybody in the history of our United Way who, first of all, has had such an enormous and sustained leadership role, and who, just as important, makes everybody feel so very special." Mrs. Cook describes Ellen Ehrlich's method of inspiring other United Way volunteers as "Ellen-gear," the charismatic manner of a person who is "positive and imaginative and who sets high goals."

A woman dedicated to education at all levels, Ellen Ehrlich began her professional career in 1957 as a fifth-grade teacher in Lincoln, Massachusetts. During the next eleven years she was a teacher for homebound students in Bronxville Public Schools, New York; a tutor for students in Shorewood Public Schools, Wisconsin; a teacher for homebound students in Montgomery County Public Schools, Maryland; and a tutor for the Palo Alto Unified School District in California. Before coming to Indiana, Mrs. Ehrlich served as a development officer for the Georgetown University Law School Institute for International and Foreign Trade Law; as an assistant to the dean at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies; as director of development for Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania; and as development consultant for the National Adoption Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Born in Chicago, Mrs. Ehrlich received the B.A., magna cum laude, from Radcliffe College. She and Tom have three grown children, David Rome Ehrlich, Elizabeth Ehrlich Dumanian, and Paul Rome Ehrlich.

Mrs. Ehrlich received the IU Bicentennial Medal in September 2019 in recognition of her distinguished service to Indiana University.