Stephen L. Ferguson


Honorary Degree (2018)
Doctor of Humane Letters
IU Undergraduate Commencement
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Michael A. McRobbie
Presidents Circle Laurel Pin (2018)
Maurer School of Law Academy of Law Alumni Fellows (2011)
Indiana University Bloomington
J.D. 1966


Stephen L. Ferguson has been integrally involved with Indiana University and the city of Bloomington over the course of his career, and he is responsible for much of the growth of the university, community, and state over the last few decades. After earning his Doctor of Jurisprudence at the IU Maurer School of Law, Ferguson maintained a private practice in Bloomington until 1991, when he was asked to become executive vice president and chief operating officer for Cook Group Inc. He has concurrently been a member of the Indiana General Assembly, president of the Indiana University Board of Trustees, chair of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, on the Governor's Task Force on College Affordability, and a member of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

In twelve years on the Board of Trustees, Ferguson guided the university through a period of transition focused on raising the profile and quality of this institution. He helped implement the Commitment to Excellence program and spoke to faculty about program goals of increasing merit-based financial aid, hiring new faculty, and creating new programs in area studies and interdisciplinary sciences. Ferguson has put time and passion into improving IU for the generations of students and faculty to come, making Indiana a better place to go to school and establish a career. He was instrumental in obtaining state approval for the establishment of IU's School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and he worked with the late Myles Brand, IU president from 1994 to 2002, on establishing the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering.

Ferguson has also worked with Ivy Tech Community College, including helping to develop a joint IU - Ivy Tech admission program. Together with Bill Cook, founder of Cook, Incorporated, Ferguson supported the restoration of the West Baden Springs Hotel and the rebirth of the French Lick Resort, creating hospitality jobs in Orange County, Indiana. Ferguson has also played a major role in developing IU Health.

Because of his contributions to IU, Bloomington, and Indiana as a whole, Ferguson has received the Sagamore of the Wabash award, the highest award given by the state of Indiana, five times from five different governors.