Indiana University East Chancellor Nasser Paydar announced today (Aug. 27) the naming of IU East’s Middlefork Hall on the Richmond, Ind., campus in honor of former Richmond businessman Tom Raper.
The building will be renamed Tom Raper Hall in recognition of Raper’s commitment of $2.17 million to support the campus. The gift is the largest in IU East’s history, according to an IU release.
“This unprecedented commitment to Indiana University East builds on Tom Raper’s longstanding dedication to advancing the mission of this campus,” Paydar said. “His exceptional generosity will enable IU East to provide even higher levels of knowledge, economic development, and culture to the residents in this part of the state.”
Paydar said that IU East will use the funds in a variety of ways to strengthen its leadership role as the region’s bachelor’s and master’s institution.
“We are experiencing record enrollment and planning for more growth,” Paydar said. “With this comes the need for capital improvements, expansion of academic programs, and enhanced student life opportunities. Tom Raper is impacting all of these areas, and as a result, is advancing the overall excellence of IU East. Individual students and communities across our region will benefit for generations to come.”
The announcement follows IU East’s Celebration of Campus and Community event earlier this summer, which replaced a traditional chancellor installation ceremony. Paydar decided to forgo an installation to use the funds for campus enhancements instead.
Raper said there is no better investment than one’s education.
“Suzanne and I believe in the power of people investing in themselves and their future through education,” Raper said. “This gift to IU East is special for us because it is an opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to the Richmond community. With IU East’s new mission and overall growth, we are confident that graduates will provide strong leadership to the Richmond area.”
In 1991, he established the Tom Raper Scholarship to benefit hardworking, deserving students who are committed to building their success in east central Indiana. More than 90 scholarships have been awarded from the endowment in the past 15 years.
Raper brought national recognition to Richmond by building the nation’s largest recreational vehicle dealership, Tom Raper RVs. From humble beginnings with a used car lot of fewer than 10 cars in 1964, Raper grew the business into a 60-acre complex in Richmond with 275 employees and a worldwide customer base. In 2002, he sold the business, which still bears his name.