Randall L. Tobias


Bicentennial Medal (2020)
Presidents Circle Laurel Pin (2013)
IUPUI Spirit of Philanthropy Award (2009)
Honorary Degree (1997)
Doctor of Laws
Location: Bloomington, Indiana
Presenter: Myles Neil Brand
Distinguished Alumni Service Award (1989)
B.S., 1964
Kelley School of Business Academy of Alumni Fellows (1984)
Indiana University Bloomington
Kelley School of Business
B.S., 1964


A 1964 graduate of Indiana University, Randall Tobias is known for extraordinary achievement in two different'but to him, closely related' fields of activity. He is a highly successful business executive who has helped to steer two major corporations through fundamental change. He is also a civic leader who combines strong idealism with a zest for practical solutions.

Tobias began his corporate career at AT&T. Rising to vice chairman of the board, he helped to guide AT&T's fortunes as it broke into assorted "Baby Bells" and expanded around the world in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1993, beset by dramatic shifts in the health care world, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company asked Tobias to become its chairman, president, and chief executive officer. Tobias quickly started the company on a bold program of changes, and Lilly's stock, which had been on an 18-month slide, turned upward again. By late 1996 its value had more than tripled.

If this success story caught the business community's attention, so, too, did the humanity with which Tobias led Lilly's transformation. When it became plain Lilly would need to shrink its workforce, Tobias opted for offering generous early retirement packages instead of mandating layoffs. Tobias also initiated flextime programs, a 220-child day care center at Lilly's Indianapolis headquarters, and a broad range of other "family friendly" initiatives throughout the company. Calling Lilly one of the top 10 companies for working mothers, WORKING MOTHER magazine named Tobias its 1996 CEO "Family Champion of the Year." After retiring from Eli Lilly and Company, Randy was nominated to serve first as the U.S. global AIDS coordinator, with the rank of ambassador, and later as the nation's first director of U.S. foreign assistance, serving concurrently as administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the principal government agency administering economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide.

Tobias has likewise played a strong and responsible part in the broader world around him. In addition to Lilly, he also serves on the boards of Phillips Petroleum, Kimberly-Clark, and Knight-Ridder, Inc. He is a member of the Business Council, the Business Roundtable, the Council on Foreign Relations, the U.S.-Japan Business Council, and the U.S.-China Business Council. He is a trustee of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, a director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, a trustee and board member for the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and a board member for the Economic Club of Indianapolis.

In its depth and variety, Tobias's service to education has been still more remarkable. While still with AT&T, Tobias helped arrange that company's $7 million contribution to equipping IU's Wendell W. Wright Education Building. Under Tobias, Lilly has contributed tens of millions of dollars to the IU Medical Center and to the medical school's Campaign for Medicine. Tobias has endowed a chair in leadership in IU's School of Business, supported the School of Music and the Well House Society, and established a scholarship in the Wells Scholars Program to honor his parents.In 2004, he established the Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence, housed at the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis. The Tobias Center is focused on cross-sector leadership in the corporate, public service, education, and nonprofit communities to inspire leadership excellence on a national scale. And Tobias' service to education extends beyond IU: he also serves as the chair of the Duke University board of trustees.

Tobias's international experience and business acumen have been invaluable to Indiana University. He has served on the Dean's Advisory Council at the School of Business since 1983, including a term as its chair. He served on the IU Foundation's Board of Directors from 1986 to 1995, and is now an honorary director there. IU has given Tobias its Distinguished Alumni Service Award, its School of Business Academy Alumni Fellow Award, and its School of Education Distinguished Achievement in the Advancement of Education Award. In 2020, Tobias was awarded Indiana University's Bicentennial Medal in honor of his distinguished contributions and years of dedicated service.