Prestigious Indiana University alumni award bestowed to lifelong Northwest Indiana educator

Prestigious Indiana University alumni award bestowed to lifelong Northwest Indiana educator
By: Indiana University Northwest Last Updated: June 26, 2019

The Indiana University Alumni Association (IUAA) awarded five individuals with the prestigious President’s Award at a ceremony in Bloomington in June.

Among those honored was IU Northwest Alumna Bernadette Brier Slawinksi, of Ogden Dunes, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary and special education from IU Northwest and IU South Bend, respectively, in 1976 and 1981.

The President’s Award honors individuals who help provide opportunities for their fellow alumni and friends to stay connected with Indiana University. Given annually, the award remains the IUAA’s premier alumni honor.

A native of Gary and alumna of Gary’s public schools, Slawinski served the IU Northwest Alumni Association (IUNAA) for nearly 15 years as a representative for the School of Education. Two years ago, she transitioned to the role of treasurer.

Throughout her tenure on IUNAA, she has served as chair for several committees, most recently for IU Day events on the IU Northwest campus and the recently established Legacy Luncheon on Homecoming Day. She also played an important role with the annual Blood Donor Challenge, as well as donated and volunteered in blood drives hosted by IU Northwest’s Student Alumni Association.

Helping Northwest Indiana thrive

Slawinski has prepared hundreds of special education teachers throughout Northwest Indiana. She taught special education at IU Northwest and IU South Bend for more than 30 years, while also mentoring students and helping provide them with enriching experiences in various school systems. She supervised IU South Bend summer programs in Gary, Crown Point, and Valparaiso that enabled hundreds of teachers to fulfill their special education requirements while benefitting children with disabilities.

IU Northwest Director of Alumni Relations Paulette LaFata-Johnson accompanied Slawinski to the ceremony.

“Bernadette has been an invaluable voice and beacon of light on the IU Northwest alumni board,” LaFata-Johnson said. “In addition to leadership skills, she brought a fair and broad perspective grounded in her vast community service experience as a member of the IUNAA board, as well as the boards of many other worthwhile organizations throughout Northwest Indiana.”

Slawinski said she felt incredibly humbled to have received IU’s highest alumni honor. She intends to continue working to engage her fellow alumni with IU Northwest, by planning more social and philanthropic events. One of her proudest achievements serving the IUNAA was her role in establishing an endowed scholarship fund for IU Northwest students.

“Giving back to IU Northwest feels natural for me because of all the opportunities the university has given me,” she said. “Because of IU Northwest, I’ve had the opportunity to touch the lives of so many students and educators throughout Northwest Indiana.”

About Indiana University Northwest

One of eight campuses of Indiana University, IU Northwest is located in metropolitan Northwest Indiana, approximately 30 miles southeast of Chicago and 10 miles from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The campus has a diverse student population of approximately 4,000 degree-seeking students and 1,500 dual-credit students. The campus offers Associate, Baccalaureate and Master’s degrees in a variety of undergraduate, graduate and pre-professional degree options available from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Health and Human Services, the School of Business and Economics, the School of the Arts and the School of Education. The campus is also host to IU School of Medicine-Northwest-Gary, which actively involves students in research and local healthcare needs through its four-year medical doctorate program. IU Northwest emphasizes high-quality teaching, faculty and student research and engagement on campus and in the community. As a student-centered campus, IU Northwest is committed to academic excellence characterized by a love of ideas and achievement in learning, discovery, creativity, and engagement. Indiana University Northwest is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer committed to achieving excellence through diversity. The University actively encourages applications from women, minorities, veterans, persons with disabilities, and members of other underrepresented groups.